Tag Archives: Muhammad Wilkerson

Patriots – Jets Key Matchups, Who Has the Razor’s Edge?

Steve Balestrieri
October 13, 2017 at 8:00 am ET

The Patriots head back out on the road to meet their old familiar rival, the New York Jets on Sunday afternoon in the Meadowlands.

This week’s game will be broadcast by CBS on Sunday, October 15 at 1:00 p.m. ET and can be seen on WBZ-TV Channel 4. Ian Eagle will handle play-by-play duties with Dan Fouts as the color analyst. Evan Washburn will work from the sidelines... The game will also be aired on the Patriots flagship radio station 98.5 The Sports Hub with Bob Socci and Scott Zolak on the call, produced by Marc Capello.

The Patriots (3-2) got back on the winning track by downing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Thursday night 19-14.Stephen Gostkowski booted four field goals and Tom Brady threw the only touchdown of the game for the Pats to Chris Hogan.

The Jets (3-2) beat the Cleveland Browns 17-14 for their third win in a row. Many people were thinking this Jets team wouldn’t  win one game and now in Week 6, they are playing at home with a chance to take over the division lead.

We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our “Razor’s Edge” column in 2016 to give some quick analysis on some of the key matchups of the game and what you can look for in how the game plays out.

Series History:

The Patriots and Jets are meeting for the 117th time. The Patriots hold a 61-54-1 edge overall. The Patriots are 28-29 all-time on the road against the Jets, including 4-3 at MetLife Stadium. The Patriots swept the season series a year ago and in the last meeting at the end of the season, the Patriots blasted the Jets 41-3 at Gillette Stadium.The Patriots have also won their last ten road games dating back to last season.

Here is a look at some of the key matchups and who holds the Razor’s Edge.

First up is the Patriots offense:

Patriots RBs vs Jets Front Seven – Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots running game has been disappointing so far this season. Whether it is the offensive line or the running backs that are underperforming, perhaps a combination of both, they aren’t helping the passing offense. The Patriots average just 99 yards per game. Mike Gillislee leads the team with 246 yards and four touchdowns but his yards per carry (3.6) like that of the team (3.87) is not where the team needs it to be.

The Jets run defense has struggled mightily so far this season. Gang Green has allowed an average of 143 yards per game. The Jets are the 29th ranked team against the run in terms of yards per game and 27th in rushing yards per attempt.

This may be a time for the Patriots to establish something of a consistent running game. They gave Dion Lewis some more reps last week and he responded with a solid game. Gillislee also had a decent game as well last week. The Jets may go to a lighter defense to stop the Patriots passing game and this would be the time to assert the push up front and get the running game going, not to mention not allow an opponent to pin their ears back and coming after the quarterback.

Patriots WRs vs Jets Secondary – Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots passing game has been clicking despite the amount of pressure that Tom Brady has been under and the number of times he’s been hit and sacked. It is capable of being even more explosive if Brady gets decent time to throw the ball. Having the running game improve would be a big boost. Brady has plenty of productive targets in the passing game, Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan, Danny Amendola, Rob Gronkowski should return this week as well as Phillip Dorsett, with James White and Dion Lewis out of the backfield.

The Jets revamped their secondary this season and started it with two rookie safeties Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye who have come in as rookies and played much better than anyone could have hoped this early in their careers. They have two good corners in Buster Skrine and Morris Claiborne but they’ll face a much more potent passing game than they’ve seen thus far. One issue has been the lack of sacks, the team has just seven so far in 2017. Neither Leonard Williams or Muhammad Wilkerson have a sack yet this season.

Gronkowski will present the rookies in the middle with a big matchup to watch on Sunday. But the Patriots have enough other weapons to force the issue with the Jets defense. With time Brady has proven he can pick apart anyone, even without a ton of time this season he’s lighting it up. Look for him to have another big day.

Next up the Jets offense:

Jets RBs vs NE Front Seven – Razor’s Edge New York

The Jets have good running backs in Bilal Powell and Matt Forte but both of them are banged up and it isn’t known if they’ll play or how much on Sunday. But if they can’t go, the onus will fall to youngster Elijah McGuire who is a capable backup. The Jets running game looked excellent a few weeks ago against Jacksonville running for over 250 yards but then fizzled last week against the Browns, gaining only 39 yards on the ground.

The Patriots run defense has been porous at times this season. With Alan Branch underperforming and riding the pine, they’ve been susceptible to runs up the middle. Ditto for having Dont’a Hightower missing time and then playing on the edge. They seemed to make some adjustments last week against Tampa Bay. They moved Hightower back in the middle on early downs and it helped. Now if they can get Branch back on the field and performing, it would be a bonus. Paging David Harris?

The Patriots game plan will probably be to slow or stop the run and force the ball into McCown’s hands since he doesn’t have a deep group of playmakers. How well they do that slowing of the run will be an intriguing part of the game.

Jets WRs vs NE Secondary- Razor’s Edge New England

Josh McCown is playing better than anyone expected this season. He’s completing about 71 percent of his passes although for just 1020 yards with five scores and four interceptions. Jermaine Kearse, Jeremy Kerley, and Robbie Anderson are the wideouts with Austin Seferian Jenkins is the tight end and he’s having a good season thus far. Like the Patriots, the Jets have given up a lot of pressure, McCown has been sacked 15 times on the season.

The Patriots pass defense may have turned the corner a bit last week. Through three quarters playing strictly man coverage, they allowed just 110 yards. Look for more man coverage with Malcolm Butler and Stephon Gilmore this week. Jenkins will be McCown’s safety valve and a tough matchup. He’s already got the production that the Jets tight ends got all of last year. Kearse has seamlessly integrated into the offense and came up big with a 24-yard touchdown to seal the win against the Browns. We’ll see if the Patriots pass rush can get home more this week. The consistency hasn’t been there and this may be a good time to get it going.

Special Teams- Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots’ Stephen Gostkowski made all four field goal attempts last week and is 12-12 on the season. I never worry about him on field goal attempts only with extra points…is that strange? Ryan Allen hasn’t been the same this season. He’s been inconsistent and needs to re-find his comfort level out there. Danny Amendola gave the return unit with a shot in the arm with a big 40-yard return. But the STs units committed four penalties in the game. Not good.

The Jets counter with Chandler Catanzaro at kicker, who booted a 57-yarder last week and Lac Edwards at punter. But overall the Jets have been inconsistent on special teams this season.

Next up, who wins and why…


This one will pit old rivals who get renew unpleasantries with one another. There is never any love lost between the two teams or the franchises. Here is where we normally throw in the caveat that you can throw out their records since it is a divisional matchup but both teams come in with identical 3-2 records.

I think it is imperative for the Patriots to get off to a good start this week. The crowd at MetLife Stadium will be loud at the start of this one. No one expected the Jets to be where they are right now. So, they’ll be loose and fired up. They’re basically playing with house money. The best way for the Pats to quiet the crowd is to get some distance quickly and get the crowd to sit on their hands. Turnovers will be key also. The Jets offense hasn’t been especially prolific so to make them match the New England offense score for score will be a difficult proposition. Not giving them any momentum or short fields with turnovers is important. On the flip side getting a turnover or two would be a big boost to a Patriots offense that has been moving the ball and scoring very well but hasn’t reached its optimum peak yet.

This one will be close for awhile but the New England offense will put pressure on the Jets to keep up. A second-half turnover will open the door for Brady and the offense to break it open late. Brady and Gronkowski lead the way to a road win.  Patriots 34-13

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

Who Are Those Jets Tied With the Patriots?, 5 Initial Impressions of Gang Green

Steve Balestrieri
October 11, 2017 at 9:37 am ET

Raise your hand if you saw that coming this summer. Don’t look now but the Jets are in first place. Yes they are, the J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets, have overachieved this season thru the first five weeks as Todd Bowles crew has bought into his system and his message.

Many people believed that the Jets wouldn’t win one game in 2017, never mind three in a row as the players have ignored the noise and are gutting out wins. Bowles was saddled with a team gutted by the front office in a total purge of big salaries and most of the NFL pundits believed that they were tanking in hopes of getting the top pick in the 2018 NFL Draft to get the franchise quarterback that has eluded them. But Bowles, who is coaching for his job, not the #1 pick has the team playing hard every week. While their wins, especially last week against Cleveland wasn’t a pretty one, no one cares at the end of the season how many style points you have, wins and losses is the measuring stick.

The surprising Jets are 3-2 and tied with the Bills and Patriots for the top spot in the AFC East, the Dolphins are a half-game back at 2-2. No one would have thought that they would be playing the Patriots in Week 6 with the top spot in the AFC East on the line. They’re playing with house money right now. I’d expect them to come out loose and ready to empty the tank in front of the home crowd in an attempt to steal a win away.

Here are our five initial impressions of the Jets heading into this week:

Sacks Have Been Hard to Come By …For Now:
The Jets have two of the better interior defensive linemen in the league with Leonard Williams and Muhammad Wilkerson. And while the two have been solid thus far, the one thing that has been missing so far is the sacks. Neither one has been able to notch a sack this season.

That has been especially frustrating for Williams, a 2016 Pro-Bowl lineman who listed as one of his goals this season was to notch a sack a game. Bowles, for one, isn’t worried about the sack totals per se, “They’re playing hard. I don’t worry about their sacks,” Bowles said on his Monday conference call. “Their sacks will come, but they’re playing hard. They’re taking a lot of doubles up for everybody else, but there are certain schemes that require different things, and they are doing those different things. They are great team players and great individual players, so the sacks will come.”

This week they’re going against a New England offensive line that is giving up far too much pressure and sacks on quarterback Tom Brady. The Patriots quarterback has been sacked more in the first five games (16) than he was in all 12 games of 2016. So, this may be the week where those two look to get off the schneid.

Jets Offense Hasn’t Been Bad in the Early Going:
After releasing so many of their skill position players in the spring and suffering injuries this summer, the outlook for them was really not looking good this season. And while the team is still #26 in terms of yardage in the NFL, they haven’t been as bad as advertised.

The running game with Bilal Powell is in the middle of the pack, 13th in the NFL averaging 111.4 yards per game. The passing game is currently 25th averaging just 189 yards per game. They are scoring an average of 18.4 points per game which is good for 23rd in the league.

Josh McCown, the journeyman QB in his 15th season has played well. He’s completing 71.4 percent of his passes but for only 1020 yards thus far. Translation, he’s doing the things he needs to do and throwing the safe passes underneath for the most part.

But his most impressive drive this year? Last week against the Browns, they stopped Cleveland on their three-yard line and McCown took them on a 97-yard touchdown drive that put the game away. While they’ve struggled at times, they’ve also had some good moments as well. But for the game, they managed only 212 yards and 34 on the ground.

Running Backs Hurting:
As of Tuesday evening, we don’t know if the Jets will be without running backs Matt Forte and Bilal Powell for Sunday’s game against the Patriots. Forte has missed the last two games with a turf-toe injury and Powell is dealing with a calf strain. He exited the game on Sunday with the Browns just before halftime. He’s listed as day-to-day.

If those two aren’t able to go that would leave the job to rookie Elijah McGuire as the feature back and Travaris Cadet as their third down specialist. McGuire is a 5’11, 214-pound rookie out of Louisiana-Lafayette. He’s run well thus far in 2017 carrying the ball 34 times for 176 yards, good for a 5.2-yard average, including a big, 69-yard touchdown run against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He’s an athletic, good runner with good ball security and shows good acceleration in getting to the hole. He has deceptive speed in getting to the edge. He’s also a decent pass receiver out of the backfield and has caught five passes thus far this year.

The Patriots will no doubt attempt to stop the run and force the Jets to beat them via the pass. So, we can expect that the play in the trenches will be key here. As of right now, Bowles told the press that the team doesn’t expect to sign another running back in the interim.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins Should Be a Big Target:
The Jets big tight end should see a lot of action going his way in the passing game this week. With the Patriots primed to slow or stop the run, play action passing from McCown will have to be spot on this week and the Jenkins may be the guy he turns to first.

Jenkins was one of the bright spots on an offense that didn’t have a great day against the Browns a week ago. He was targeted eight times in the game and hauled in six passes. While he gained just 29 yards, many of his receptions were just enough to keep the chains moving including a touchdown that gave the Jets the lead in the third quarter.

Jenkins will get matched up with either a safety (Pat Chung) or one of the linebackers and this will be a big matchup to watch this week. Despite playing in just three games this season, the big tight end has caught 15 passes for 106 yards and a score. Jets tight ends in 2016 caught a combined 18 passes in 2016. The Jets asked him to drop some weight this offseason and he did. He lost 30 pounds and moves much quicker and has shown better hands thus far than he has in the past.

Two Rookie Safeties Helping Turn the Defense Around:
Last season, the Jets defense was a mess and a lot of the struggles centered around weak play from the safety position. So they replaced Marcus Gilchrist and Calvin Pryor this spring by using a first and second-round draft picks to draft Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye respectively this April.

To be fair, Gilchrist and Pryor were far from the only problems on the Jets back end last year. But the team felt they needed a big upgrade there and so far it has worked very well. Adams and Maye became the first rookie starting safety tandem in the league since the AFL/NFL merger. The two rookies have impressed from Day 1 and won their starting jobs this summer and have not looked back.

Last year the Jets surrendered 13 plays of at least 40 yards in the passing game. Thus far in 2017, they’ve allowed one. This week, they’ll face a tough test in the form of Rob Gronkowski who Adams admits was one of the first people he thought of when he was drafted. Adams, in particular, has been very versatile. He’s lined up as a strong safety, free safety, nickel linebacker, slot corner, even splitting out wide as an edge corner a few times. The Jets took some heat drafting two safeties back to back but so far, they are performing even better than they could have hoped for and now offer positional stability for years to come.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

Patriots – Jets II Keys, Who Has the Razor’s Edge?

Steve Balestrieri
December 23, 2016 at 6:00 am ET

The New England Patriots return to the friendly confines of Gillette Stadium in Foxboro for their final regular season home game to take on the New York Jets. The game is scheduled for Saturday Christmas Eve, at 1 p.m.

CBS will televise this week’s game and it can be seen locally on WBZ Channel 4 in Boston. Ian Eagle will handle play-by-play duties with Dan Fouts as the color analyst. Evan Washburn will work the sidelines. The game will also be aired on the Patriots flagship radio station 98.5 The SportsHub with Bob Socci and Scott Zolak on the call, produced by Marc Cappello.

The Patriots (12-2) improved to 7-0 on the road this season with a convincing 16-3 win over the Denver Broncos. Dion Lewis rushed for 95 yards and the Pats got three turnovers while holding the Broncos to just three points and shut them out for the final 53 minutes of the game.

The Jets (4-10) were hammered by Miami last week. Career backup Matt Moore threw for four touchdowns in the win. QB Bryce Petty was hit hard and had to leave the game but is expected to play this weekend.

We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our “Razor’s Edge” column in 2016 to give some quick analysis on some of the key matchups of the game and what you can look for in how the game plays out.

Series History:
The Patriots and Jets meet for the 116th time on Sunday in an intense rivalry that dates back to 1960. The Patriots hold a slight all-time 60-54-1 edge in the series that has been incredibly even and always tough.

The Patriots hold a 32-25-1 edge overall at home and have won 9 of the last 11 meetings. The Pats won a close 22-17 win in the Meadowlands in the first meeting this season as Tom Brady hit Malcolm Mitchell with the game-winning touchdown pass with less than two minutes to go. Mitchell had a pair of touchdowns in the game.

Here is a look at some of the key matchups and who holds the Razor’s Edge.

First up is the Patriots offense:

Patriots – Jets Key Matchups, Who Has the Razor’s Edge?

Steve Balestrieri
November 25, 2016 at 9:00 am ET

The New England Patriots travel to the NJ Meadowlands to take on the New York Jets in the first of two divisional matchups between the two teams. The game was initially scheduled for Sunday Night Football but has been flexed by the NFL to a 4:25 p.m. kickoff.

This week’s game will be televised by CBS and can be seen locally on WBZ Channel 4 in Boston. Greg Gumble will handle play-by-play duties with Trent Green as the color analyst. Jamie Erdahl will work the sidelines. The game will also be aired on the Patriots flagship radio station 98.5 The SportsHub with Bob Socci and Scott Zolak on the call, produced by Marc Cappello.

The Patriots (8-2) improved to 5-0 on the road this season with a 30-17 win over the San Francisco 49ers. Tom Brady was the AFC Offensive Player of the Week for the 27th time in his career with a four touchdown-zero interception effort. LeGarrette Blount led the running game with 124 yards on 19 carries.

The Jets (3-7) are coming off their bye week. Two weeks ago, they lost to the LA Rams 9-6 as QB Bryce Petty in his first NFL start subbing for an injured Ryan Fitzpatrick could only lead the Jets to a single touchdown drive. Fitzpatrick is healthy this week and has been given the nod by coach Todd Bowles as the starter.

We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our “Razor’s Edge” column in 2016 to give some quick analysis on some of the key matchups of the game and what you can look for in how the game plays out.

Series History:
The Patriots and Jets meet for the 115th time on Sunday in an intense rivalry that dates back to 1960. The Patriots hold a slight all-time 59-54-1 edge in the series that has been incredibly even and always tough.

The Jets hold a slim 29-27 edge overall at home. The Patriots have won 8 of the last 10 meetings, however. The teams split a pair of close games a year ago. The Patriots held serve in Foxboro with a 30-23 win and the Jets in the Meadowlands won a 26-20 overtime win on December 27. The Patriots won the toss and deferred, and Fitzpatrick led the Jets to a quick touchdown drive

Here is a look at some of the key matchups and who holds the Razor’s Edge.

First up is the Patriots offense:

New England Patriots News 7-17, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
July 17, 2016 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, here are Sunday’s New England Patriots news 7-17 notes and what’s happening around the AFC East.

Brady’s role in Deflategate Ends, The Battle Will Recommence in 2020:
In a surprise move on Friday, Tom Brady capitulated to the NFL and will not be part of the NFLPA’s petition to the Supreme Court if indeed they continue the case. In opting to give in and accept his punishment, Brady will serve his four-game suspension.

But make no mistake, Deflategate isn’t over. Brady’s portion of it is. He’ll sit out Weeks 1-4 in what has to be the most overblown league generated fiasco ever. So while the legion of Pats haters does a victory lap, the players association braces for the fight that is coming when the next CBA comes due in 2020.

And you can bet there will be a work stoppage because the league and Roger Goodell are not going to give up the absolute power that he now holds over the players. And they, at least the smart ones know that he can suspend any of them whenever he wants because the courts say he has the power to do so. And evidence-smevidence… who cares about that. Goodell doesn’t need any. So Deflategate ISN’T over.

Brady’s Decision Was His but Not Necessarily the Best One:
No one knows what kind of strain Brady has gone thru for the past 18 months. But one can only imagine what a tough, roller coaster the past two seasons have been like. First dealing with the calls of he was done and no longer a top NFL QB. Then after catching fire and on the verge of returning to the Super Bowl, having your integrity and legacy called into play? And playing last season with a suspension looming over his head.

So if he just got worn down by the entire fiasco and mentally couldn’t put up with any longer, then so be it. We don’t sit in his shoes and can’t imagine what it’s been like for him.


We also heard that IF the Supreme Court agreed to hear his case, and a stay was issued that a ruling against him could impact him later in the season and even during the playoffs. While that scenario would be a nightmarish one for the Patriots 2016 season, it is exactly why he should have stayed in the fight.

This is not only about the ridiculous 4-game suspension that Goodell levied, nor just about his legacy but about how this will effect NFLPA members down the road.  Goodell’s power trip will affect many players down the road and this is an opportunity to fix that without going thru a work stoppage in the future. This case would be a benefit to all NFL players, present and future. Regardless of how difficult this fight wouldn’t have been to win; this was one that should have been seen thru to the end.

You don’t just fight the fights you can win; you fight the fights that need fighting. He should have stuck it out.

Did Kraft Blast the League or Did His Words Ring Hollow?
After Brady announced his decision not to contest his suspension, Patriots owner Robert Kraft released a statement that seemed to put the hammer down on the league.

Kraft wrote, ““From day one, I have believed in Tom and given him my unwavering support in his pursuit to rightfully clear his name of any wrongdoing. That support extends throughout our organization and has only grown more steadfast as the preponderance of scientific evidence has exonerated Tom. Unfortunately, this stopped being about air pressure a long time ago.” (emphasis is mine)

He further added, “This entire process has indelibly taken a toll on our organization, our fans and most importantly, Tom Brady. His reluctant decision to stop pursuing further action and to put this situation behind him is what he feels is best for the team in preparation for this season and is fully supported by me and our entire organization.”

Kraft called the sham investigation of Ted Wells, “flawed and biased from the start,” and said that Brady wasn’t given due process. Strong stuff.

So it is difficult to compare those strong words with some of the confusing actions on his part. Because, as popular as he is as an owner, and he’s been the best this organization has ever seen, he’s played both sides of the fence.

After coming out like gangbusters before the Super Bowl and demanding an apology, he went to the owners meeting and finding no support among the Jones, Rooneys, and Maras…who wanted their pound of flesh, he caved. He caved quicker than a paper house in a typhoon. In a statement, he meekly accepted the NFL’s punishment of losing two draft picks, a $1,000,000 fine and having his QB get socked with a 4-game suspension.

He flipped-flopped again telling the media and fans that it was wrong for him to have put his trust in the league.  But the pull of the billionaire boys club is strong and both he and Goodell have been seen schmoozing for the press on a number of occasions since.

Now this latest statement after Brady’s decision doesn’t feel like the slam that fans and some of the media are saying it was. Those words are ringing a bit hollow. One has to wonder what Brady truly feels about all of this. We’ll probably never find out.

Oh to be a fly on the wall here...

Oh to be a fly on the wall here…


Good luck to Nate Ebner who should find out his fate on if he makes the National Rugby team soon. The US National Team is expected to announce their roster tomorrow for the 2016 Summer Olympics. If Ebner makes the cut, he will be in Rio and take part in the Olympic tournament that begins on August 6.

Be sure to keep checking PatsFans.com as training camp approaches. We are doing primers by position and we’ve already posted ones on the running backs, tight ends, and wide receivers.

Be sure to check out our podcast “Patriots 4th and 2”. We’ve been doing a series of podcasts lately dealing with the Pats opponents in the AFC East and conducting a season preview of each team. We recently sat down with Dolphins beat writer Antwan Staley and took a look at Miami.

East Bound and Down…AFC East Notes:

Dolphins Landry, the New Face of Miami Sports?
With the departure of Dwayne Wade from the Miami Heat via free agency, there is a void on who is the new face of sports in the city of Miami. Well, the Dolphins may just have an answer for that in the name of Jarvis Landry.

There was a nice piece on NFL Spin Zone that spelled out Landry’s qualifications among them, “the personality, is a big-time playmaker and has a silly haircut that seems to be popular with the kids. Oh, yea, and a cool nickname.”

And of course, Landry is an outstanding talent that we watch at least twice a year. If Landry keeps improving and plays like he’s expected to in 2016, he could easily be the new face of Miami sports.

Jets Deal with Mo Wilkerson, Opens the Door for Fitz:
The Jets, to no one’s surprise, finally got a deal done with Muhammad Wilkerson their Pro Bowl DT. Wilkerson is one of the best DTs in the game and was rewarded with a 5-year deal worth $86 million dollars, with $37 million guaranteed in the first two years and $54 million guaranteed by year three.

But the low cap hit on the 2016 year of his deal opens the door for an offer if they choose to, to finally get QB Ryan Fitzpatrick back in the building. Prior to the Wilkerson extension, the Jets were sitting on just $3.7 million dollars in salary cap room. Now they can offer Fitz closer to what he’s looking for. Stay tuned…

Bills’ Williams Suspended First Four Games of 2016:
Shortly after trolling the Patriots with a silly meme on hearing the Tom Brady suspension news, the Bills got bad news of their own. Running back Karlos Williams will be suspended for the first four weeks of the season for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy.

Williams is expected to take a heavier workload in 2016 to keep LeSean McCoy fresh and healthy this season. He scored nine touchdowns in 2015, tied for tops on the Bills. Now he’ll have to wait to make his first appearance until after the first New England game on October 2. He’s eligible to return to the team on October 3.

And it compounds with the news of rookie running back Jonathan Williams being arrested for suspicion of DWI in Arkansas this week. He’s facing a two-game suspension but it probably wouldn’t be enforced until 2017.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcast on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon

Patriots Fourth And Two Podcast Opposition Preview: Jeff Capellini On The Jets

Russ Goldman
July 5, 2016 at 7:24 am ET

This episode was a conversation with Jeff Capellini who is a columnist and an editor forCBSNewyork.com and WFAN.com. Jeff shared his thoughts on the New York Jets heading into Training Camp which arrives in just a few weeks.

Who Are the Key Players to Watch, Patriots – Jets

Steve Balestrieri
December 26, 2015 at 9:35 am ET

The Patriots need just one more win to lock up the #1 seed and clinch home field advantage for the playoffs but they’ll have to travel down to the New Jersey Meadowlands and beat the New York Jets to do so.

The Pats (12-2), dispatched the lowly Tennessee Titans 33-16 last week but are banged up with 17 players on IR and another 13 dealing with different types of injuries. This will be a tough playoff-like test for the Patriots.

The Jets (9-5), are still very much in the playoff hunt but need to win both of their games and get some help as both the Chiefs and Steelers hold tiebreakers over them. The Jets enter on a roll having won four in a row.

We already broke down this game with our Key matchups breaking down the offensive, defensive and special team’s units for this week.

Now it is time for our players to watch for this week:

Steven Jackson: The Patriots newest running back hasn’t played in a year and questions remain on how much the talented back for the Rams and Falcons has left in the tank as well as how sharp he will be having just a few practices under his belt.

Jackson is a big, powerful runner and a good receiver out of the backfield so the Patriots may opt to use him in the passing game on early downs as well. For a player who hasn’t been on the field for so long, ball security will be a key area to watch.

We expect Jackson to get between 10-15 touches in the game and if he can give the Patriots some semblance of balance in this one it will take a ton of pressure off of Brady and the offensive line in trying to pass protect.

Key stat: In the first meeting back in October the Patriots rushed only nine times for 16 yards on the day. Brady led the Patriots in rushing with 15 yards on four carries. The Jets allow an average of only 82 yards per game on the ground and have given up just two rushing touchdowns in 2015.

Brandon Marshall: The talented Jets receiver was frustrated in the opening game between the two teams. The Patriots used cornerback Logan Ryan with over-the-top safety help to neutralize Marshall and he had one of his least productive games in 2015.

Marshall also had two of his seven drops of the season in that game including a key drop in the end zone that would have increased the Jets lead to eight in the pivotal fourth quarter in the 30-23 loss.

The plan was to get him the ball more often which resulted in Ryan Fitzpatrick having to look elsewhere in the passing game. Look for the Jets to move him around a bit more in this one and possibly put him in motion with some short crossing routes to get him involved more quickly this time around.

“He’s a guy we always want to get the ball to,” said QB Ryan Fitzpatrck.  “But we’ve also just got to make sure that we kind of pick and choose the right time to do it. But he’s always going to be a big part of our offense.”

Key Stat: Marshall had only four catches for 67 yards in the Week 7 matchup, for the Jets most prolific receiver with 93 catches for nearly 1300 yards and 11 touchdowns, that was a win for the Patriots defense. This time around will be a bigger test as Marshall looks for some payback.

Tom Brady: In the first meeting in October, Brady with closer to a full-complement of weapons albeit with a banged up offensive line, eschewed the running game for the short passing game and completed 35 of 54 passes for 354 yards and two touchdowns in the comeback win.

Brady will have to win this one without the services of both Julian Edelman (doubtful) and Danny Amendola (questionable), both of whom are key elements in the Patriots quick passing game. Brady will still have TE Rob Gronkowski who had a big game the first time around with 11 catches for 108 yards and a touchdown. But the Jets will put a premium on stopping him Sunday. Both he and James White will need to step up.

Key Stat: Of Brady’s 19 incompletions the first game, 11 were drops including six by Brandon LaFell who was in his first action after missing all of the spring and summer. But in the pivotal 4th quarter with New England down by four, Brady was vintage; he hit on 14 of 17 for 150 yards and two touchdowns in the comeback win.

Muhammad Wilkerson: The Jets big man in the defensive line is having an outstanding season. He’s been a force at stopping the run as well as rushing the passer. He’s due to hit free-agency in March and his stellar play in 2015 is adding up to dollar signs for 6’4, 315 defensive end.

Normally facing a double team, Wilkerson is a tough man to account for in the running game. The Jets like to move him around a bit on the defensive line to find a mismatches in pass rushing situations and he’s a guy that can get after the opposing quarterback as he sacked Brady in the first matchup.

Whoever lines up opposite Wilkerson is likely to have some help as he’s proven to be a player the Patriots will have to account for on every down. He has 12 sacks this season, a career high and will be looking to get even more on Sunday.

Key Stat: Wilkerson has been very consistent this season notching sacks in seven of the Jets 14 games this season but his best game was perhaps against Tennessee where he sacked Titans QBs three times, had a pass defensed and forced a fumble.

If the Jets get any kind of production like that on Sunday, things will be looking good for Gang Green’s defense.

Malcolm Butler: The Patriots second-year corner has transformed from an undrafted free agent and part-time player as a rookie to the Patriots starting left corner. Butler was just named to the Pro Bowl this week in just his second season. The confidence that the coaching staff has shown in him is particularly telling; the team frequently leaves him out alone 1-on-1 with opponents best WRs.

This week, he’ll probably draw the Jets Eric Decker and he’ll have to be on top of his game. Decker is the Jets second leading receiver with 72 catches for 930 yards and 10 touchdowns. But Jets coach Todd Bowles says that Butler is already one of the top corners in the league.

“He studies the game,” Bowles said about Butler. “He’s not just a man-corner, he’s a zone corner too. He’s got very good technique which is rare. He’s got great hand-eye coordination, and reads the ball well and accepts all challenges. You can tell he works at it. I enjoy watching him play.”

Key Stat: In the first game Butler didn’t have one of his best games. The Jets were 5 for 11 for 82 yards when passing to Decker. But Butler was flagged three times; once for illegal use of hands, holding and an 18-yard pass interference penalty. He’ll be looking to improve on that performance this week.

Ryan Fitzpatrick: The Jets much-traveled quarterback seems to have found a home in New York. Fitzpatrick has transformed himself into a solid starter and is having a career year. Fitzpatrick’s 26 passing touchdowns are just three shy of the Jets all-time single season record set by Vinnie Testaverde.

During the Jets recent four-game winning streak, Fitzpatrick has been excellent, passing for 1229 yards, with 10 touchdown passes and only one interception. He’s been the catalyst to the Jets resurgent offense led by the passing game in the second half of the season. He may look to get RB Bilal Powell involved early in this game; Powell missed the first meeting with an ankle injury.

Fitzpatrick has developed a nice chemistry with the mercurial Marshall who is in the Top 10 of NFL WRs in catches, yards and touchdowns. The Jets 1-2 tandem of Marshall and Decker lead the NFL with 21 touchdown receptions. It is no surprise that during the winning streak Fitzpatrick has hit Marshall frequently, he’s had three 100-yard games.

Key Stat: Fitzpatrick passed for 295 yards in the first game between the two teams and was sacked just twice. The Jets have allowed only 20 sacks this season and Fitzpatrick has gone down just 17 times. The Patriots have 47 sacks on the season and have had at least one sack in the past 27 games, the longest current streak in the NFL.

The key on Sunday will be for New England to get to him much more frequently than they did the first time. He’s playing at a level now where if he gets the time, he’ll find one of the plethora of talented receivers the Jets own.

Stay tuned to PatsFans.com and we’ll have post-game analysis of the opener as well as transcripts from Bill Belichick’s press conference immediately after the game.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcast on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.


Patriots – Jets II, Key Matchups; Who Has the Razor’s Edge?

Steve Balestrieri
December 24, 2015 at 6:09 am ET

The New England Patriots head back out on the road for a key game against the New York Jets. The normal rivalry aside, this one is even bigger in terms of playoff implications for both teams.

Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. ET on Sunday and will have Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts on the call. The game can also be heard on the Patriots flagship station of 98.5 FM the Sports Hub with Bob Socci and Scott Zolak on the call.

The Jets (9-5) are on a four-game winning streak and need to win to keep their playoff hopes alive. They are currently tied with both the Pittsburgh Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs at 9-5 but lose out on the tie breaker and are on the outside looking in. They beat the Dallas Cowboys 19-16 last week as they gutted out a close win in the final moments.

New England (12-2), beat a bad Tennessee Titans team 33-16 on Sunday to clinch a first round bye in the playoffs. It was the Patriots sixth straight 12-win season becoming only the second team (Indy with seven) to do so. With a win on Sunday the Patriots will clinch the #1 seed in the AFC and ensure home field advantage in the playoffs.

We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our “Razor’s Edge” column in 2015 to give a quick break down on some of the key matchups of the game and what you can look for in how the game plays out.

Series History: The Patriots and Jets will meet for the 114h time on Sunday including the playoffs. The Patriots hold a 59-53 overall edge against Gang Green but the series has been marked recently by very close games. The Jets maintain a 28-27 lead at home although the Patriots lead 3-2 in games at Met Life Stadium.

The most recent matchup was another classic Pats-Jets contest; New York led 20-16 in the fourth quarter before Tom Brady led the Patriots on two 10-play scoring drives for touchdowns in the Pats 30-23 win.

Here is a look at some of the key matchups and who holds the Razor’s Edge.

First up is the Patriots offense:

Patriots 2015 Opponents, Five First Impressions of the Jets

Steve Balestrieri
October 20, 2015 at 8:09 am ET

The Patriots return to their Gillette Stadium home after a successful two week road trip that saw impressive wins over Dallas and Indianapolis that puts the team at 5-0.

Now they face a familiar division rival the New York Jets. The Jets are off to a great start at 4-1 and fresh off a 34-20 thumping of the Washington Redskins. The rivalry with the Jets is always fierce regardless of either team’s record, with first place in the division on the line, even in Week 7 it will get ratcheted up a notch even more.

As is typical with these games, a little bit of gamesmanship comes into play every time the two teams meet. Just yesterday the Jets signed former Patriots wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins to the active roster from the practice squad. Of course it could just be that they were filling a roster spot with WR Quincy Enunwa being suspended for four games for a domestic violence incident from a year ago.

The game is scheduled for Sunday with the kickoff slated for 1 p.m. and will be televised by CBS. The game can be watched locally on WBZ-TV.

Here are our five first impressions of the Jets;

Todd Bowles Exceeding Expectations Quickly: Bowles came highly regarded from the Arizona Cardinals and inherited a team in turmoil. The Jets had a ton of cash in salary cap space and won only four games in 2014. Most preseason projections had the Jets finishing again in the AFC East basement.

But Bowles is much farther along in the rebuilding process and has the team already playing at a high level. Having already matched their win total of last season they now have their sights set on the champs and Bowles is an early front-runner for the coach of the year honors.

Known as a defensive coach, he showed off some of his knowledge and in the meantime gave the Patriots something else to consider in the Jets win over Washington. Getting DL Sheldon Richardson back last week, questions were asked how Bowles would work him back into the rotation along the defensive line.

Bowles scrapped his normal 3-4 base defense look and went to a more traditional 4-3 with Richardson and Damon Harrison at DT and impressive rookie Leonard Williams and Muhammad Wilkerson at DE. The move gave the Jets a tough unit for Washington to run on and they were able to disrupt the passing of QB Kirk Cousins.

Chris Ivory Off to a Stellar Start to 2015: The Jets running back Chris Ivory, behind a better than advertised offensive line is off and running to start the season. Ivory ran for 146 yards against the Redskins and had 196 total yards from scrimmage. After having 166 yards rushing against Miami, his 312 rushing yards are the most by a Jets running back in two games since 2009. He’s averaging a very impressive 5.5 yards per carry.

Wide receiver Brandon Marshall already believes that Ivory is not among the best in the NFL but that he is the best. “He’s already the best running back in the league right now,” Brandon Marshall said. “Just watch the tape — speed, quickness, agility, vision, endurance — he has it all. Eight-man box, nine-man box, they came out and said, ‘We don’t care about the wide receivers, we’re going to stop the run.’ Ivory, again, came out and put up over 140 yards. He’s amazing and he’s the best in the league.”

Ivory has given the Jets the balance that they need as offensive coordinator Chan Gailey has produced a nice mix of runs and passes by playing against an opponents’ weakness. The Jets only loss this season, against the Eagles was with Ivory on the sideline nursing a sore groin. In his four starts, he’s amassed 460 yards rushing with four touchdowns as well as his 5.5 yards per carry average.

Revis Leads Revamped Jets Secondary: Much like he did in 2014 with the Patriots, Darrelle Revis is leading a re-tooled secondary again but this time for the Jets. The Jets secondary last year was a mess and new GM Mike Maccagnan wasted little time in bringing in the pieces to make it better.

He signed Revis after the Pats declined on his $25 million dollar option, brought back Antonio Cromartie and signed slot corner Buster Skrine away from the Browns. The result is that the Jets now have the top defense in the league.

Revis and Cromartie give the Jets excellent coverage on the perimeter and Skrine has been one of the best men at playing inside in the slot all season. Skrine was injured against the Redskins, suffering a concussion and will have to be cleared by the league’s protocols this week, but the Jets corners will present a tough test for Tom Brady and Co.

As for Revis, he had this to say, “Last year was last year. We had a great time. We ended up winning,” Revis said. “We’ve been playing lights out,” he added. “We’ve just got to continue to make turnovers on defense. It’s going to be a battle next week. They’re a team, man. Any team can be beat any week, on any given Sunday.”

Jets Offensive Line, A Big Test for NE: One of the big strengths of the Jets this season has been the surprising play of the Jets offensive line. While everyone knows they like to run the ball and be physical up front, they’ve also been remarkably adept at protecting QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, and this will be one of the matchups to watch this week as they go up against a re-tooled Patriots front seven.

The Jets boast three first round draft picks on the OL with D’Brickashaw Ferguson, James Carpenter and Nick Mangold as well as Willie Colon and Breno Giacomini. And they’ve been playing lights out. Averaging 146 yards per game on the ground, the 2-3 yards they get in the first quarter turn into 8-10 late in the game as they wear down opponents. Plus, they’ve allowed a total of just two sacks of Fitzpatrick this season.

With the ground game of Ivory, the pass protection has allowed Fitzpatrick to utilize play action passing as the Jets now have plenty of weapons in the passing game. With that in mind…

Jets Wide Receivers Present Tough Challenge:  The Jets needed to upgrade their wide receiver corps this off-season, and they have. Bringing in veteran Brandon Marshall, to complement Eric Decker, they have a potent 1-2 punch in the passing game on the outside. But they didn’t stop there, drafting speedster Devin Smith from Ohio State. Their return game is handled by Jeremy Kerley who adds to the depth of the passing game as well as Chris Oswusu.

Unlike other seasons, Fitzpatrick as the Jets QB has a full complement of weapons at his disposal. Throw in tight ends, Jeff Cumberland and Kellen Davis and the offense has the capability of being a very tough one to stop.

One area that they’re working on is the deep passing game, with opponents loading up the box to stop the run, Fitzpatrick would love to hit some deep throws to soften things up and make some big plays.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcast on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.