2. The NY Jets defense must pressure and confuse Mac Jones
Easier said than done, but the Jets defense must find a way to pressure and confuse rookie quarterback Mac Jones into making mistakes.
Getting off to a good start and having the home crowd on your side could help do the trick, but the Patriots' new franchise quarterback doesn't look easily rattled.
A week ago, in a 17-16 loss at home to Miami, Jones had his team going in for the go-ahead score deep in Miami Dolphins territory late in the fourth quarter when Damien Harris fumbled the football. Miami held on to win, but Jones was very impressive in the narrow defeat.
The former Alabama standout was 29-of-39, throwing for 289 yards, one touchdown, and zero interceptions. The Dolphins didn't sack Jones the entire game.
It helped that Jones was playing at home, but it's also a testament to New England's offensive line and the play calling of Josh McDaniels.
For whatever reason, Jones has had his fair share of detractors since declaring for the NFL Draft. But he's been silencing the doubters all summer long.
Jones has been very calm and poised in the pocket in his early days throwing passes for New England. The Jets defense led by Jeff Ulbrich needs to find a way to get the rookie out of his comfort zone.
It all starts with the Jets defensive line.
This week, some outlets are touting New York's defensive line and its pass-rush efficiency rating from Week 1. But keep in mind that these same outlets gave Christian McCaffrey a 69.9 grade, one of the lower marks on his team, after he generated 187 yards, nine receptions, and multiple first-downs.
A week ago, the Jets pass rush generated one sack, and save for a botched handoff in the red zone, forced no turnovers. Sam Darnold completed a high percentage of his passes and didn't turn the ball over.
Quinnen Williams, Shaq Lawson, Sheldon Rankins, and company need to play better this week than they did against Carolina. They need to apply pressure on Jones and make life difficult for him in the pocket by forcing him into bad throws.
There's no question that New England has a better offensive line than Carolina does. It's one of the reasons that oddsmakers have the Patriots as nearly a touchdown favorite on the road.
But for the Jets to win on Sunday, their best players like Quinnen Williams have to rise to the occasion and make big plays.
The Patriots want to make Zach Wilson's Sunday miserable. The Jets defense needs to accomplish the same thing to Mac Jones.