The New York Jets will face the New England Patriots back home at MetLife Stadium on Sunday afternoon. For the Jets, they are coming off a 30-10 loss in Dallas while the Patriots are winless and searching for their first win of 2023.
Today let’s take a look at the Jets’ keys to victory, x-factors, and biggest matchups to watch.
6 Notes Heading into Jets vs Patriots
Jets Offensive Key: Establish The Run Early On
After the Jets run game was able to rush for over 170 yards in week one, the production in week two saw a significant drop-off. Last week in the 30-10 loss in Dallas, Breece Hall, Dalvin Cook, and Michael Carter were only able to muster up 24 yards on 10 carries and one fumble. This was a huge problem and a big reason why these struggles occurred was coaching and that needs to change this week.
One of the biggest problems last week came from offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett who only gave Breece Hall four rushing attempts. Despite Hall being limited in the first few weeks coming off a torn ACL, he needs a lot more than four touches. In week one on only 10 carries he had 127 yards and 83 of those came on one huge play. Breece Hall needs to be more involved especially early on setting the tone and putting Zach Wilson in the best position possible to just be a game manager.
With the quarterback situation being a concern the run game must produce as it did on Monday Night against the Bills. Especially early on New England through two games has found themselves behind early in games. The Patriots are coming off a week where they allowed over 140 rushing yards against the Miami Dolphins at home. The Jets need to do the same if they want to snap their 14-game losing streak against New England on Sunday.
Jets Defensive Key: Start Fast
Last week was a rare poor performance from the Jets’ defense that has been so good and it all started with a slow start on the road. The Jets allowed a touchdown on Dallas’ first drive and weren’t the same for the rest of the afternoon. They also struggled on third down where at one point Dallas had a 70% 3rd down conversion rate.
On paper, this is a game where the Jets defensively should have no problem starting fast at home. In two games New England has found themselves in big holes at home. First against the Eagles in week one the Patriots fell down 16-0 early and their first three drives on offense were not pretty. Those three drives were a pick-six, a fumble, and a punt. It was the same story on Sunday Night Football against Miami, fell down 10-0 early and the first three drives were ugly. Those drives resulted in two punts and a fumble. Mac Jones is also 0-12 in his career when he has been down by a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
After those ugly starts the Patriots have been able to find their rhythm but it has been too little too late in those games. The Jets must start fast on defense and set up their offense in a good situation to play from ahead rather than behind.
Jets Offensive X-Factor: Offensive Line
For the third week in a row, the Jets offensive line is a crucial and concerning part of this team entering this matchup. In week one the Jets struggled in pass protection but did well in run blocking, last week they struggled in both and it caused a long day for the Jets’ offense. The entire offensive line needs to be better if the Jets want any chance in this game.
The Jets had no answers for Micah Parsons last week as he had two sacks and four quarterback hits on Zach Wilson. Blocking Micah Parsons for the most part was Duane Brown and to say he had a bad day was an understatement. Brown finished Sunday with a pass-block win rate of 54% which ranked last among qualified tackles. Connor McGovern also struggled with a pass-block win rate of 79% which ranked last among qualified centers.
This week will be no easy task either as Matthew Judon comes to town. Judon is coming off a 15.5 sack season which ranked top-five in the NFL and already has two sacks in as many games this season. Keeping Zach Wilson upright who struggles under pressure is huge, especially after their performance last week.
Jets Defensive X-Factor: Quinnen Williams
The Jets have a great chance to bounce back on defense this week against a significantly less lethal offense in the Patriots. Quinnen Williams through two games has yet to have a sack although he has been present in the run game and still providing pressure on the quarterback. This week, Quinnen Williams can slow down a key piece and expose a major weakness in the Patriots offense.
One of the biggest issues with New England is their pass protection this week is a perfect opportunity for Quinnen Williams to take over and get to Mac Jones. Another big key is stopping the run which the Jets struggled with last week, allowing over 130 rushing yards to Dallas. Quinnen Williams being the Jets’ best defensive lineman matches up well against Rhamondre Stevenson.
Through two games this season Stevenson is only averaging 2.8 yards per carry and the Jets need that to continue. Despite the slow start, Stevenson is coming off a 1,000+ rushing yard season and is a quality pass catcher out of the backfield as well. If Williams and this front can do what the Eagles and Dolphins have done they will put themselves in a great spot to come away with a victory.
Jets Offensive Matchup To Watch: Zach Wilson vs Bill Belichick
Zach Wilson has had a very bumpy start to the beginning of his career and some of the biggest bumps have come against New England. Like many QBs in the NFL especially past Jets quarterbacks, Wilson has not been able to crack the difficult Bill Belichick defense. Last time Wilson played the Patriots it led to his benching for Mike White.
In Wilson’s four career games against New England, he is 0-4 with two touchdowns and seven interceptions while only completing 50.9% of his passes. He needs to find a way to step up on Sunday and play within the offense finding his playmakers like wide receiver, Garrett Wilson. Another big test for Wilson will be limiting turnovers which has plagued him early in his career.
Jets Defensive Matchup To Watch: Jets Defensive Line vs Patriots Pass Protection
One of the biggest strengths of the Jets is their defensive line and going into this game they match up well against the Patriots’ poor pass protection. Coming off a week where the Jets struggled defensively this is a matchup they must take advantage of. Mac Jones last week was sacked four times against Miami at home.
The Patriots statistically enter this game as a bottom-five pass-blocking team in many different statistical categories versus a Jets defensive line that is one of the best in football. As long as the secondary holds up on the back end allowing the Jets front to get to the quarterback, it should make Mac Jones’ day miserable.
Jets win 17-13.
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