The Jets are currently in a position that is surprising many analysts and fans. Although we expected the defensive success, the 4-1 record, ranking first for rushing and as high as fifth in some power rankings is probably beyond what we sensibly predicted preseason. That’s not to say things are perfect and against a more challenging opponent in the Patriots, one particular weakness from week 6 will needs to be addressed: playing well from start to finish.
Cast your mind back to the 2010-11 AFC Championship game and you find a clear example of how important it is to play well for the whole 60 minutes of a game. The box score from that night in Pittsburgh speaks for itself.
The principle is the same: football is a 60 minute game and against the Redskins, as against Pittsburgh, the Jets only played well for 30 of them, especially on offense. The only loss so far of 2015 also showed a poor first half offensive performance, followed by a better second which was by that point not good enough against the Eagles:
Although this could have been down in part to shaking off the post-bye cobwebs, against the New England Patriots this approach will simply not cut it. The Jets offense need to play consistently and at a high level straight out of the gate for the whole 60 to ensure the game doesn’t once again slip out of their clutches by halftime.
In order to avoid another first half flop, the costly mistakes we saw against Washington will need to be avoided. All of the Redskin’s 13 points in the first half came from turnovers; two fumble recoveries and an interception. Before the first half against Washington the Jets also had 18-0 third down conversion streak, another area they’ll need to get back to best to keep Brady off the field.
Defensively the Patriots rank 17th overall and 22nd against the run which at first glance are positives for the Jets offense. However, they also rank 3rd overall for sacks with 19 from five games (10 game in the first halves). Part of the Jets’ success has been that Fitzpatrick has so far only been sacked twice, meaning more time on the field. It’ll be vital that the o-line ensure they don’t allow more this week leading to shortened drives. The Patriots unsurprisingly rank 2nd overall for offensive yards, tying second too for points scored with the Atlanta Falcons, who’ve played one more game. Their offensive stats are also broadly similar in both halves of games. Despite our defensive prowess, if Brady is allowed to get a significant margin in the first half, it’ll be hard to recover in the second even if the offense play as well as they did in the second half against Washington.
Overall the Jets have outscored opponents 34-0 in the third quarter so whatever Todd Bowles says in the locker room at half time obviously makes an impact and this was clearly seen against Washington. Even the Fox sideline report described his clear anger and frustration on the way in to address the team. “Energy, Energy, Energy,” was the message and it clearly sank in. However, it’s now vital that this same message and intensity gets instilled from the get-go.Whether we like to admit it or not, the Patriots are one of the toughest opponents the Jets will face all year with an added divisional dimension. There are many things which need to go right to ensure we leave New England with 5-1 record, first and foremost keeping the offensive drives alive and Brady off the field, but to maximise this possibility, the Jets need to come out all guns blazing from the first second to the last.