TOJ Let’s Get Weird, Week 7 – Jets vs. Patriots

Dan Essien previewing the Jets week 7 matchup with the New England Patriots in this week’s Let’s Get Weird.

The New York Jets finally got their first win of the season and it put them in very good spirits. This week they host the New England Patriots for their second matchup of the season. Can they do the improbable once again? Let’s preview the Monday night showdown with storylines, stats, and predictions with another edition of Let’s Get Weird.

Game notes

Stop the run. Start the party.

New England has been incredible this season but most of that has actually hinged on their defense. The Jets have an opportunity against their offense and it will be augmented by being at home. For New York, it starts with stopping the run. They actually did so in their first matchup against the Patriots this season. They held New England to just 68 yards rushing in the loss. They did so without Quinnen Williams, Jordan Jenkins, and, most notably, without C.J Mosley. All three will be in action tonight. If the Jets can stop the run, then they can unleash the pressure package.

Gregg Williams is starting to get into a groove with the Jets pressure looks. They got plenty of hits on Dak Prescott last week and the majority of it was from designed pressure by coach Williams. You always run a risk blitzing on elite quarterbacks but this is just how the Jets must play. They have to be a risk taking defense. That’s exactly how they won last week. Also, Brady is much more dangerous in a clean pocket then a collapsing one. They need to hit him early and put doubt in the mind of the nucleus of that offense. When the Bills stifled Tom Brady and the Patriots offense in week 2, this was the exact blueprint: stop the run, keep them behind the chains, get to third down. The Patriots were 5-18 on 3rd down against Bills.

The Boyer Brigade

Special teams is an often forgotten unit until it really matters. The Jets have had really good results from Brant Boyer the last two seasons. Despite what we saw with the kickers to start the year, the Jets special teams unit has actually been great once again. After finishing in 1st last season by a wide margin, Boyer has the Jets top 10 in special teams DVOA once again according to Football Outsiders. While they’ve been underwhelming on kick and punt returns, their coverage teams have been good. They have two takeaways and a touchdown this season.

As the Jets continue to get more players back from injury and replenish position groups, I think this will only improve Boyer’s special teams unit. For the Jets to win against the Patriots, they need to play well in all three phases of the game. I think special teams will play a factor. Chances are high that’s a positive for the Jets.

What if?…Heroes and Zeroes.

If the Jets win…

Hero: Sam Darnold

Zero: Patriots offensive line

The Patriots defense has been unbelievably dominant through 6 games this season. However, after week 1 against the Steelers, they haven’t really faced a solid NFL starting quarterback since (to be honest, you could argue they didn’t face one in week 1 either). Darnold will be a bit of a change of pace for the Patriots defense. On top of that, the Jets offense is going to be completely different than what they saw in week 2. If the Jets win, it means Sam Darnold was able to crack Bill Belichick’s defense and lead the offense to at least 3 touchdowns.

A Jets win, I believe, would also mean that they beat up the Patriots up front. The Jets have a top 5 defensive line against the run and they’re getting back C.J Mosley in the middle. In addition, despite the team’s success, the Patriots offensive line has been fairly average this season. The Jets have an opportunity to win consistently in the trenches defensively and that could determine the outcome of the game.

If the Jets win…

Hero: Tom Brady (in the redzone)

Zero: Jets cornerbacks

As we’ve seen, even in the Jets victory last week, their corners have struggled. The best performer from that position group has been Brian Poole as the nickel but the outside corners have been a consistent weak spot. Despite being without Josh Gordon for this game, the Patriots will definitely find ways to test the Jets on the outside. If the Patriots win, it means, Tom Brady was able to pick the secondary apart and render the Jets blitz useless. If the Jets are unable to cover for enough time to get pressure on Brady, their chances of staying close drop dramatically.

Prediction

The Silent Assassin

I think this could be one of the more enjoyable performances we have seen from the Jets in a long time and there’s one reason why: C.J Mosley. We’ve only seen a glimpse of what the Jets defense is with Mosley in week 1. But now, with his defensive teammates hardened and improved by life without him, we could see a special display on Monday night. I think the Jets defense will have an out of body experience, forcing two turnovers, and holding the Patriots under 250 yards of total offense. Mosley’s return will free up Jamal Adams to help the Jets’ corners out with Julian Edelman, who he knows fairly well. Adams and Poole against Edelman over the middle, particularly on third down, proves to be an advantage for the Jets. I believe the Jets linebackers and safeties will also dominate their matchups with the Patriots’ running backs and tight ends in the passing game which will be the key to making their offense more predictable. Once that happens, they can let loose. I think last week’s matchup, against a typically efficient Cowboys offense, was the perfect warm up for the Jets defense. This week, with their best player back…it’s gonna get rowdy. Jets win a close one this week.