Know Thine Enemy: Jets weren't supposed to do this
New York Jets
Last week: 17-14 win at Cleveland
Last three: 3-0 (Dolphins, Jags, Browns)
2016 record: 5-11
Head coach: Todd Bowles
Offensive coordinator: John Morton
Defensive coordinator: Kacy Rodgers
The Jets were the consensus pick for worst team in football over the offseason. Their early preseason performance dissuaded nobody as they failed to score a touchdown in their first two preseason games. Then? Stirring. They closed the preseason with Josh McCown ensconced as their starter at quarterback and have – after losing on the road against the Bills and Raiders – reeled off three straight wins. They still are a vastly under-talented team, basically cobbled together by GM Mike Maccagnan, who ripped the Band-Aid off and purged the roster of veterans who weren’t going to win the Jets anything in the long term but had name value. What he did is reminiscent of what Bill Belichick and Scott Pioli did in 2000 and 2001. We’ll see how the Jets trend in the next few seasons and if they snap their nearly 50-year streak of failing to appear in the Super Bowl, but at least they got the ship upright.
The defense. The special teams. Josh McCown. The attitude. We can caveat about this team all we want but, regardless of the strength of schedule, the Jets are allowing 38.6 third-down conversions, have come up with six picks (five in the last three games). Leonard Williams, Muhammad Wilkerson and Steve McClendon anchor a good front. Their punter, Lac Edwards, has dropped 11 punts inside the 20 including five against the Jags. That game, says Bill Belichick, was won by the Jets special teams. Then there’s McCown. He’s a journeyman’s journeyman but he sticks around because – despite a 21-44 record for his teams when he starts – he takes care of the ball (47 TDs and 29 picks since 2013 in 37 starts). He can move around and extend plays and he’s always had plenty of arm. He’s completing 71.4 percent of his passes and is at 6.9 yards per attempt. Meanwhile, coach Todd Bowles’ no BS approach this offseason and the Jets warmly embracing the hate and derision has seemingly gotten them unified and – as Belichick said several times in his Wednesday press conference – made them hungry.
The talent level. Offensively, they aren’t what you would call “stacked.” Bilal Powell’s been an asset and has 240 yards on the year (including a fluky 75-yarder against the Jags which helped propel that win. He’s dealing with a calf strain which puts Elijah McGuire at the top of the depth chart (Matt Forte is dealing with turf toe). Jermaine Kearse and Jeremy Kerley are the top receivers (22 and 17 receptions each). Kerley is averaging 7.8 yards per catch. Tight end Austin Sefarian-Jenkins has 15 catches for 106 (that’s 7.1 per catch). That level of production isn’t very good but the Jets have three Ws, so bless their pea-picking souls.
The Patriots are 10-2 in their last 12 against New York dating back to the 2011 regular season but eight of those games were decided by a touchdown or less. Last season, the Patriots bludgeoned New York late in the year 41-3 (Christmas Eve at Gillette) and won 22-17 at MetLife. Three times in the past six seasons, these games have gone to overtime and the Patriots lost the past two (at MetLife in 2015 and 2013). The Patriots lead the series, 61-54-1