3 key matchups to watch in the NY Jets' Week 4 game against the Steelers

NY Jets, Elijah Moore
NY Jets, Elijah Moore / Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
facebooktwitterreddit
Prev
2 of 3
Next

2. Steelers edge rushers vs. the NY Jets replacement tackles

The Jets are getting a reprieve not having to face T.J. Watt. The reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year, who amassed 21 sacks a year ago, would have feasted on this week's matchup with the Jets' options C and D offensive tackles.

Gone are veterans George Fant and Duane Brown, both on injured reserve. If you count Mekhi Becton's setback in the summer, New York is down to their fourth and fifth options at offensive tackle.

Stepping up to the plate this week to flank the opposite side of rookie Max Mitchell is Conor McDermott. There's also Cedric Ogbuehi and Mike Remmers, two veterans who weren't on New York's roster a week ago.

The good news for the Jets is that the Steelers are 0-6 when T.J. Watt is not in their lineup. However, second-year edge rusher Alex Highsmith has done a commendable job without Watt occupying multiple blockers and terrorizing passers on the opposite side.

Highsmith leads the league in sacks with 4.5. He notched a sack and a half last week against Cleveland. He also has 15 stops on the year, a combination of sacks and solo tackles. Only two defenders in the NFL have more.

Mitchell has been tested every week by opposing defenses, and he's held up reasonably well, all things considered. But McDermott is being tasked with helping create a safe working environment for Zach Wilson, who is coming off a knee injury that wiped out his entire summer and the first three weeks of his season.

The Jets are trotting out their franchise quarterback in less-than-ideal circumstances. Communication can be an issue for the Jets' new teammates on the offensive line, as well as the challenges of dealing with noise on the road.

The Steelers' defense, run by Teryl Austin and Brian Flores, has to be licking their chops facing a Jets line that has already had their share of struggles even before Fant went down.

A week ago, the Jets allowed four sacks and nine quarterback hits at home in the friendly confines of MetLife Stadium. New York had a way less mobile quarterback in the pocket with Joe Flacco, but Zach Wilson might have trouble escaping defenders if more than a few come loose into his space on every pass play.

facebooktwitterreddit