Under Saturday’s prime-time lights the New York Jets defeated those Dallas Cowboys in an important win to go 9-5 and continue their wildcard run on the road to the playoffs. The only problem is a very familiar hurdle stands in their way…
Back in week 7 Todd Bowles said that the “obsession’ the Jets had with the Patriots was merely an “obstacle” under his control. Now nine games later, this quote could not have more significance. The Patriots are in the way of the Jets potentially reaching a long awaited post-season trip. A winning season would now be a mere consolation prize given their recent run.
Certain mistakes have been recurrent throughout this Jets season and have dogged the team at the worst times. It’s mistakes like these the Jets cannot afford when facing Brady and his merry men. Firstly, the penalties. They seemed to slowly trickle back to haunt the green and white in the tough game against Dallas. The Patriots game is likely to be a close one, so giving Brady a leg up is not an option. Next, missed tackles. The defence has by no means faltered however one missed tackle by Revis against the Cowboys does come to mind. Bryant is a top, top wide receiver but Revis isn’t your throw away corner, tackles like that need to be made and this Sunday at the Metlife nobody can let their concentration slip else it could cost dearly.
Lastly, playing hard the full sixty minutes. This is potentially the most important as its has been a frequent problem. Fortunately, due to some fortuitous ‘comeback quarters’ first half lulls haven’t cost the Jets many games, however defeats against Philadelphia and over in Oakland were in part due to this lack of full game performance. This cannot happen against the a Patriots as a quiet first half will provide ample time for Belichick and Brady to move forward and be the ones to put the last nail in the Jets 2015 season coffin.
The Patriots themselves are not unbeaten so too have chinks in their armour, the Jets need to exploit these. The obvious one is their injury woes. Missing key players like Edelman and Blount have certainly made problems for Brady’s usual effortless offensive production, but some lesser players have stepped up to fill the void and should not be underestimated. James White is a someone who has stepped up in the vacant RB position and like the Jets’ Bilal Powell, he too has a talent for receiving down field. The Jets need to be wary of these unexpected match-ups. If they manage to slow down Rob Gronkowski, they’ll achieve what many haven’t this year and set up a good chance for victory. Previously seen as a bust and now second year stud, Calvin Pryor is perhaps key to making this possible. Pryor has been no stranger to big match-ups and has often come out on top. His confidence is through the roof and he’ll need to sustain this when up against someone who can only be described as a monster.With Chris Ivory back running hard and the decision to keep Bilal Powell looking wise, the Jets ‘run’ of form may have come at an ideal time. Lastly, it’s getting to Tom Brady. Again, easier said than done. The combination of a strong offensive line and a quarterback that can release the ball quickly is a tall order for any defensive line looking to produce, but this simply needs to happen. The Jets defensive line is not short of big names and this game more than any is where they need to show they are worth their potential salaries and pro bowl nominations. Brady progressing up the field through the pass needs to be slowed down and if not, at the very least the Jets need to do what so many can’t and intercept. If Philadelphia’s defence can manage it twice, a Jets team playing on top of their game surely can muster up something.
When Sunday comes it would be great to think these potential Patriot weaknesses can be exploited to bring home the win, however the Patriots haven’t built their league dominance from nothing and are a tough opponent on any day. The Jets need to play their best football of the year and truly put the current superbowl champions up against it. The Patriots will certainly know what’s at stake for the Jets and seek to end the party early.
Photo Credit: NewYorkJets.com