Discover more from The Jets Way
New England Preview
Welcome to Friday’s edition, which can only mean one thing. It’s time for a game preview. The 5-2 Jets return home to face the 3-4 New England Patriots. NFL Network sources have confirmed that Mac Jones will start on Sunday, but will he finish the game? There is somewhat of a QB controversy brewing in Foxborough and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Bailey Zappe at some point.
As always I appreciate all your support with this project, we’ve seen some really good growth over October and I’ll share the numbers at the end of the month. Thank you.
James Robinson met with the media on Wednesday to talk about the trade. He said he was surprised and hinted that the reason given for him not playing last week was a little bit of an excuse. Robinson was in the game for a handful of snaps but didn’t get a target or carry with Jacksonville saying it was due to knee soreness. He confirmed he felt good and it also felt good going from a 2-5 team to a 5-2 team.
The Media were allowed into practice on Wednesday and it seems as though Elijah Moore was welcomed back with open arms as you would expect. There was a friendly exchange between Moore and LaFleur which is great to see considering it was Moore’s outburst at the offensive coordinator that got him sent home although MLF said that it was more a conversation and talk of a bust-up was inaccurate. The Jets are a better team with Moore than without, so I’m all for this bridge-mending.
"Whoever's got the hot hand, you gotta roll with." was Mike LaFleur’s answer when asked about the RB rotation going forward. With Robinson arriving to join Carter and Johnson, and with Zonovan Knight being activated from the PS this week, the Jets have plenty of options.
The New York Giants and New York Jets have combined for 11 wins so far in 2022, which is the most combined wins for the NY teams through Week 7 since 1986. Things are looking up for New York football.
I both love and hate Patriots week in equal measure. There’s nothing like beating Bill and New England, but the prospect of losing to them turns my stomach. Although the bookmakers have us as a 1.5-point underdog, this is the first time in a while that I’ve felt we have the superior team, whether that translates to a win remains to be seen, but I’m quietly confident.
The Green Bay Packers preview received some positive feedback, so I’m going to keep that format going forward. Here are the goals on either side of the ball that I believe will equal a Jets victory.
New England Offense
Goal #1 - Create Turnovers
Mac Jones has thrown 6 interceptions to 2 touchdowns this season, but strangely we don’t really hear about his struggles as much as we do some other quarterbacks. In short, Mac Jones has not been good this year. His yards per attempt are up on last season and that in part is the issue, Jones showed himself to be a decent game manager last year, but when asked to push the ball downfield he can be prone to error. All 6 of his interceptions have come on passes of 10+ yards and 2 of his 10 attempts of 20+ yards have been picked off. The Jets have one of the better secondaries in the league and all four starters (Whitehead, Joyner, Sauce, and Reed) have interceptions to their name, if the Jets can create pressure up front then turnovers could dictate the momentum and direction of the game.
Goal #2 - Generate Pressure
This goes hand in hand with the first point. If you’ve read TJW this year you’ll hear me talk about complementary defense. The pressure gives the secondary a chance to maintain coverage and the coverage gives the pass rush a chance to get home, this is how Coach Saleh and Coach Ulbrich envisioned the Jet’s defense when they took charge. Mac Jones has a tendency to get happy feet when under pressure and 4 of his 6 interceptions have come when under duress. Jones completes 72.3% of his passes when kept clean but just 35% when under pressure, he’s also yet to throw a touchdown when pressured. The Jets are likely going to get Jermaine Johnson back this week and with Bryce Huff continuing his good play and Quinnen Williams dominating inside, pressure is the name of the game. The Patriots have only allowed 12 sacks through 7 games which is the 7th best mark in the NFL.
Goal #3 - Force the ball into the air
The Patriots have a very good one-two punch on the ground in Rhamondre Stevenson and Damien Harris, those two have combined for 752 yards and 7 touchdowns in the rushing game, with 555 of those yards coming after contact with 27 missed tackles forced. Forcing the patriots into third and long and obvious passing downs is the key to success, New England converts third downs at a reasonable click (41.77%), but if you can take the ball out of the hands of Stevenson and put it into Mac Jones against Reed and Sauce, I like the Jets chances.
Goal #4 - Cover the middle of the field
Bill Belichick is as smart as they come, if not very likable. Denver for some unknown reason chose to push the ball to the sideline and challenge Sauce and DJ, that’s rarely a recipe for success. I’d expect New England to try and exploit the middle of the field. New England has two good TEs in Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry who have a combined 38 targets through 7 games, although they only have 291 yards and 1 touchdown between them. I’d project that the TEs will be targeted a lot in this game and the Patriots will try and stress the Jet’s linebackers and safeties. Jordan Whitehead is allowing 73.3% of passes to be completed into his coverage and Joyner 61.5%, if the Jets can cover the middle well, they walk away with a win.
Goal #5 - Penalties
We spoke about this in our statistical breakdown of the Denver game earlier this week. The Jets are one of the most penalized teams in the league and no team has given up more free yardage than Gang Green. The Patriots rank 17th in points per game, 21st in passing yards per game, and 17th in total yards per game, don’t give them any help. If we can limit the free yardage and force them to gain every single inch then it’ll go a lot way to ensuring we walk away with a victory. The Jets have been called for 5 roughing the passer penalties, 2 more than any other team in the league…they may be absolute BS calls, but don’t give them the opportunity to throw the flag.
New England Defense
Goal #1 - Establish the ground game
Life after Breece starts on Sunday. If Hall is playing in this contest I think the Jets end up steamrolling the Patriots, New England is giving up 136.7 rushing yards per game on the ground on average which is 25th in the league, and 4.88 yards per rushing attempt which is 26th. Alas, Breece is out and we really don’t know what to expect from our ground game considering we have a brand new player in James Robinson and we also lost out best run-blocking offensive lineman in Alijah Vera-Tucker. Coach Saleh wouldn’t commit to Robinson playing on Sunday, so we may get a heavy dose of Carter and Johnson and they need to ensure we establish that ground game early to open up passing lanes.
Goal #2 - Get Help
The Patriot’s pass rush is dominated by two players on the edge, Matthew Judon who predominantly rushes from the left side, and Deatrich Wise Jr. who tends to rush from the right side. On the season they have combined for 14 sacks and 54 pressures with Judon leading the race with 9 sacks and 32 pressures. The Jets will be starting Duane Brown at left tackle and Cedric Ogbuehi at right tackle following the injury to AVT and George Fant not being ready to return. I don’t know about you, but I really don’t like that matchup, so I want to see them given plenty of help by tight ends and running backs either staying in to double, or at least chipping before leaking out for a quick screen. The Jets have to find a way to slow Judon down, otherwise, it’s going to be a long day for Zach.
Goal #3 - Stay away from the Jones
The Patriots took Jack Jones out of Arizona State in the 4th round of the 2022 NFL draft and he has been exceptional. Through the first 7 games, he is allowing just 48.0% of passes to be completed into his coverage with 0 touchdowns allowed and 2 interceptions, and this is based on 25 targets, so a good sample size. Like with Sauce, I don’t know why teams are throwing his way. Veteran Jonathan Jones is also doing a fine job allowing 52.6% of passes to be completed in his coverage. The Patriot’s secondary isn’t perfect, Jalen Mills has allowed 269 yards and a completion against of 62.5%, and Devin McCourty is allowing 83.3% with 2 touchdowns against. There are areas to target in the passing game, but I’d be avoiding Jack Jones.
Goal #4 - Convert on third down
You don’t want to live on the money down, but if the Jets do find their way into third-down situations they have to convert at a better click. The Jets currently convert just 4.5 third downs per game on average, which is good for 25th in the league, but the Patriots are one of the worst third-down defenses in football. On Monday night the Bears were able to convert 11-18 (61%) while picking up an average of 13.5 yards per conversion, that number is incredibly bad. Overall this year the Patriots rank 28th in the league in third-down stops. If the Jets want to reach and perform in the playoffs, they need to improve their third-down offense and this week represents the perfect opportunity to get it fixed.
Goal #5 - Utilise the screen game more
I see this as a win-win situation. Screens create easy completions for QBs to give them confidence, slow down a pass-rush, protect your patchwork offensive line, and also gets certain malcontents the ball in situations where they can make something happen. Zach has thrown a screen on 12.8% of his dropbacks which is 15th in the league, that number is an increase on the 11% that we saw last year but it still falls short of what you’d expect to see in this kind of offense. Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay is 19.9% and Jimmy G in San Francisco is at 15.2% - I think New England is the perfect opponent to bring the screen out against.
Thanks for reading The Jets Way! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.