TOJ Stock Watch: Patriots Week

It’s Patriots week! Sure, the New York Jets are coming off a terrible performance just a week ago at home against Pittsburgh to drop them to 3-3, but all Jets fans should be excited for Patriots week. Sure, all the stats and trends point towards the Pats blowing the Jets out, as they always seem to do in the second matchup of the season (last year involved the infamous “buttfumble” on Thanksgiving), but there is reason for hope this week, as the extremely banged up Patriots roll into the Meadowlands. A Jets win would bring them to within one game of the division lead, and the playoffs would start to look like a legit possibility. Let’s get to buying and selling all things Jets as we look forward to Sunday…

BUY: Rex Ryan – One of the biggest reason I think the Jets have a great chance to pull off the upset this week is because of Rex Ryan. This game means an awfully lot to him, and could possibly be the last crack he gets at Bill Belichick as “HC of the NYJ”. Now, I’m of the opinion that Rex has done an excellent job with this Jets team and should get a contract extension, but the fact remains that the 2013 season could be his last, and I’m sure that’s in the back of his mind. A statement win like this against the Patriots would go a long way towards strengthening the “Keep Rex” campaign, and you better believe that Rex is going to have his team ready to play.

You can tell by the comments from Rex and his players this week that the game means more than your average week 7 matchup. Rex mentioned in passing how he thought the defense should have gotten more credit for the week 2 performance in Foxboro rather than the media just harping on Brady’s receivers being terrible. You think Rex has mentioned this a time or two to his defense this week to get them ready? I would say yes. Even newcomer Josh Cribbs came in and talked about how he could see it in Rex’s eyes how much this game meant to him. Rex will have this team ready to rumble this weekend, no ifs ands or buts about it. Speaking of Cribbs…

BUY: Josh Cribbs – The Cribbs signing is a huge boost to the Jets special teams. The fact is that the Jets return games have been putrid since Joe McKnight was released in the preseason, and Cribbs could provide a spark on both kickoffs and punt returns. Clyde Gates returning kicks was laughable, and it was a major success if he managed to cross the 20-yard-line. As for the punt returns, Kerley has been better this year than last, but he still left a lot to be desired. Cribbs is a home run threat every time he gets his hands on the ball, and he frees up Kerley to focus strictly on being a receiver, which will hopefully help out. Speaking of the receivers…

SELL: The Wide Receivers – Ever since Santonio Holmes went down with his hamstring injury, it’s had a ripple effect throughout the receiving corps. With the #1 WR down, the rest of the group like Stephen Hill and Jeremy Kerley have had to step up and take on bigger roles, which quite frankly they aren’t totally suited for. Kerley is at his best when he’s the #3 receiver who moves around and mainly operates out of the slot. Hill has improved and is growing into the #2 receiver role, but he’s far from a #1 which is what he’s basically been forced to be in Holmes’s absence. Clyde Gates was placed on IR this week which eliminates a huge hole in the #3 receiver spot, but it remains to be seen if David Nelson will be able to step up and contribute. As a whole, the Jets receiving corps is poor, and until Holmes gets himself healthy, it won’t change too much. Which is why….

BUY: Chris Ivory – Yes, after a slow start to the season in which he has had a few nagging injuries, it’s time to unleash Chris Ivory. With the receiving corps being what it is and the Pats battling a bunch of injuries of their own on their defensive front, there is no reason Marty Mornhinweg shouldn’t pound the ball repeatedly and feature Chris Ivory. If you recall, Ivory started to get rolling back in week 2 against these very Patriots (who still had Vince Wilfork and Jerrod Mayo at the time) but inexplicably went away from it. He can’t afford to make the same mistake here in week 7, and I don’t think he will. Bilal Powell will start and play a big role, but I think this could be the game that Ivory finally gets 15+ carries and makes his presence felt in a big way. The Jets are going to need him big time now that Mike Goodson is out for the season with a torn ACL, which was a major blow to the offense.

BUY: Defensive Line – The Jets defensive line is going to be a “buy” every week, so I hope you’re just used to it by now. This week they’re going to have to step up and dominate even more than usual. Obviously the key to beating Tom Brady is hitting him (and hitting him again.. and again.. and again), and this defensive front with Mo Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, Quinton Coples, and even Leger Douzable is more than capable of getting the job done.

What makes them even more important in this game, however, is their ability to stuff the run up front without needing extra linebacker support or blitzes to get the job done. Damon Harrison has been amazing this season stuffing the run and tying up blockers and I expect him and his pals up front to do the same this week. Stuffing Ridley and the Pats run game with just the guys up front while not needing to bring extra men into the box will allow the Jets to drop extra men into coverage and that will be huge. Extra help in the secondary will be enormous, because…

SELL: The Pass Defense – What a difference a season makes. This year, the Jets pass defense has been pretty terrible as they’ve been getting dinked and dunked all the way down the field on a routine basis. Teams realize what a force the Jets defensive line is and they’ve resorted to lots of quick passes 5-12 yards down the field, and the Jets have just been unable to defend it. Antonio Cromartie has been banged up all season and looks like a shell of the 2012 version of himself. Dee Milliner has been hurt all season and hasn’t gotten much playing time, and Darrin Walls has been solid, if unspectacular. In addition, pass defense is not exactly the specialty of our safeties, although they haven’t been too bad.

Kyle Wilson has been pretty solid in the nickel corner role this year, but unfortunately he’s going to miss this week’s game, which will hurt Rex’s schemes, particularly against Edelman over the middle. I’d expect to see more of Isaiah Trufant this week, who has played well against the Patriots in the past. The other problem is that the Jets linebackers as a group are not great in coverage, and that’s why tight ends have been a problem for the defense… as usual. Thankfully, Rob Gronkowski looks like he’ll sit out another week, so tight end shouldn’t be a problem this week, but who knows.

HOLD: Quinton Coples – This season has obviously not gotten off to a great start for Quinton Coples, but his time is coming. He was really starting to show some flashes in the preseason as he adapted to his new OLB position, but just as he appeared to be getting things together, he suffered a broken ankle that put him on the shelf. He may have rushed himself back a little too soon, and he doesn’t look like the same player we saw in the preseason, as he lacks his explosion and quickness. It won’t be long, however, until Q starts to feel more comfortable out on the field, and the big plays will come. Just be patient.

BUY: Jets Win – I’m actually a lot more confident in this game than I was for the Steelers game last week. Pittsburgh was coming off a bye and was a desperate team, so you knew Geno was going to struggle. This week, the Pats are battling a ton of injuries and Geno Smith has the benefit of already getting a look at them this season. I expect Marty to bite the bullet and accept that he has to run the ball more and Geno should be able to find some success of play-action. The defense will stuff the run as they always do and Rex will cook up a good enough scheme to slow down Tom Brady en route to a New York Jets 20-17 victory.

Author: Mike Donnelly

Mike Donnelly is a Staff Writer and life-long Jets fan, who was previously a featured columnist at multiple other New York Jets and fantasy football websites. He lives and works in finance in the NYC area and will help lead our Jets and NFL coverage in 2013.