By: Russ Goldman
The Patriots are back in action in their second game of the season against the New York Jets in their home opener at Gillette Stadium. Both teams are dealing with injuries, and challenges with a short week to prepare for this game. Here are Five Things for you to look for in this match-up.
1. Can The Patriots cover Jets tight end Kellen Winslow Jr.? Covering the tight end was something to look for in the opener for the Patriots as they did a decent job limiting Bills tight end Scott Chandler to four receptions with a total of 38 yards receiving.
This week they face Winslow Jr., and last week he had a very good game against the Bucs. He had seven receptions for 79 yards, and one touchdown reception. He was the main target for quarterback Geno Smith.
Smith is a rookie quarterback so the best thing the Patriots could do is to do what they can to take away Winslow Jr. If the Patriots can limit his receptions, it could force the Jets quarterback to try to go some place else which could lead to mistakes.
2. Can the Patriots get pressure on the Jets quarterback? Consistent pressure on the quarterback has been a major problem for the Patriots for several seasons now.
The Patriots were unsuccessful getting after E.J. Manuel last week, so I am concerned going into this game. However, the Jets might be the perfect opponent to be aggressive against, and really put in a concerted effort to put pressure on the quarterback.
The Jets last week really struggled in the running game, and are running now under new offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, a version of the West Coast offense which is a pass first offense. I think it is time to see what the front seven can do, and I think it is important to see if they can rattle the rookie quarterback by getting in his face.
3. Can Tom Brady get the ball to the tight ends ? The Jets in the past have struggled to contain the Patriots tight ends, but as we know, this unit is a little different right now.
The Jets could be very vulnerable at the safety position right now so potentially there could be openings in the middle of the field for either Zach Sudfeld, if he can play or Michael Hoomanawanui to take advantage of the defense.
With all of the injuries that the Patriots are dealing with offensively, I think you are going to need one of your tight ends to step up, and pick up the slack. I feel this is an important question to ask, and hopefully we will have a positive response Thursday Night from this position.
4. Can the Patriots offensive line protect Tom Brady? This was a question in the first game, and I thought the Patriots offensive line was below their standard protecting Brady. The Patriots quarterback got hit many times, and sacked twice.
The Jets defensive line is impressive, and a player to watch for in this game is Defensive End Muhammad Wilkerson, who had a sack last week against the Bucs. As a unit, the Jets defense had three sacks in their first game, and with a Rex Ryan defense, the Patriots offensive line is going to need to do a better job than they did against the Bills.
5. Can Julian Edelman be that number one target this week for the Patriots offense? Edelman has been an inconsistent player the majority of his career with the Patriots. Reportedly by many in the media Danny Amendola is unlikely to play in this game.
If Amendola cannot play, pressure will be put on Edelman to produce as he would then be the most proven receiver on the field for Brady. Edelman really produced in the last game as he had seven receptions for 79 yards and two touchdown receptions. For the offense to succeed on Thursday, the Patriots might need even a better performance out of Edelman against the Jets than what he showed against the Bills.
Well, these are things I will be looking for, and we will see if they have an impact on the game. I think this could be a very ugly game, but I still see the Patriots getting the victory. However, I don’t think it will be easy, and it could be a fairly close score.
If you are looking for more of an extensive preview of the season and this game, please take a listen below to Patriots Fourth And Two.