Here we are in week two and we have what may be a critical game for the Patriots. They are playing the New York Jets, another division rival, in their home opener at the Meadowlands. Both teams are coming off disappointing losses and don’t want to start the season at 0-2. The Jets lost to Carolina by a score of 19-14.
As it was with Miami last week the beginning and the end of this team revolves around their Quarterback, Zach Wilson. The 1st round selection number 2 overall was one of the Fab Five QBs taken in round one. Mac Jones was the 5th and last of the 1st rounders at #15. He is their starter after they traded Sam Donald to Carolina. Wilson threw for 258 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, and was sacked 6 times. His QB rating was 28.7. In comparison, Mac Jones was 29 of 39, 281 yards, a TD, no INT, and was sacked once. Jones’s rating was 75.1. Jones had the highest rating from Pro Football Focus (PFF) for rookie QBs. Jones also set a record for the highest completion percentage for any rookie QB ever (with 25 passing attempts or more).
Offense Obviously Wilson is the focus of the offense. He came alive in the second half and threw his two TDs. However, the Jets are in serious trouble on the O-line. The anchor of the O-line, LT Mehki Becton is out 6-8 weeks. The O-line gave up 6 sacks. Was that all their fault or was it in part the rookie QB holding onto the ball too long? The Jets had trouble picking up line stunts. Look for Josh Uche, Chase Winovich, and Matt Judon to have a field day.
The O-line has gone to a new zone-blocking scheme and were ineffective opening holes for the running backs. The trio of Tevin Coleman, Ty Johnson, and Michael Carter ran the ball 17 times for 45 yards. It looks like this is the way it will be for NYJ, a running back by committee. Look for the Jets to get their backs more involved in the passing game. The Patriots linebackers have not defended the pass all pre-season as well as the 1st game against Miami.
The Wide Receiver group is underrated. They are led by Free Agent signee Corey Davis. Against Carolina, he chipped in 2 TD receptions, 97 yards, and had 5 catches on 7 targets. Former Patriots draft choice Braxton Berrios also had 5 catches on 7 targets. He may not be as much of a factor this week as the Jets are hoping to get leading receiver Jamison Crowder and Keelan Cole back for the Patriots game. Second-year wideout Denzel Mims appears to be in the doghouse and is way down the depth chart.
Don’t sleep on 2nd round draft selection (#34) Elijah Moore. He can fly and is terrific after the catch. Former BC speedster Jeff Smith rounds out the receiver corps.
Defense Head Coach Robert Saleh brings that swagger from the 49’ers to the defense in NY. His favorite coverage is a cover three. They are trying to take away the big play. I think the Patriots will take advantage of what the Jets defense will give them. If they load up to stop the run they will exploit the matchups at TE. If they go nickel they will dominate the front seven.
The Jets are very young on Defense and injuries have made the situation worse. These are the starters and ages in parentheses:
- EDGE: Bryce Huff (23 years old)
- EDGE: John Franklin-Myers (24)
- DT: Quinnen Williams (24)
- DT: Sheldon Rankins (27)
- LB: C.J. Mosley (29)
- LB: Jamien Sherwood (21) – Rookie (Injured – OUT)
- LB: Hamsah Nasirildeen (22) – Rookie
- CB: Bryce Hall (24)
- CB: Bless Austin (25)
- S: Marcus Maye (28)
- S: Lamarcus Joyner (30) (Injured –OUT)
The Sherwood injury is significant because he was replacing Blake Cashman who was in for Jarrad Davis. BJ Goodson will fill in. Goodson’s play should be watched closely.
The Jets were unable to put consistent pressure on Darnold (1 sack) last week. Mac Jones faced constant pressure from Miami, who blitz the second most of any teams in the league. Jones handled it magnificently, hanging tough in the pocket and taking some tough hits. James White needs to be signaled out for his exceptional blitz pickups and overall pass blocking. If the Jets decide to blitz, Jones will carve them up.
Injuries The injury bug has hit the Jets hard. The Morestead for Mann replacement is significant because Mann was the holder on Field Goals and Extra Points
LT Mekhi Becton IR ( 8 weeks)
S Lamar Joyner IR (Out for Year)
P Brandon Mann IR (Replaced by Thomas Morestead)
LB Jamien Sherwood
LB Jarrad Davis
LB Blake Cashman
SS Ashtyn Davis (IR)
SS Sharrod Neasman (IR)
Posted Under: 2021 Patriots Season
Tags: New England Patriots New York Jets