Tom E. Curran's Patriots vs Jets Week 3 Preview
TGIF. Thank God it’s football. The Patriots and their fanbase spent 11 days holding their collective nose, hoping the on-field magnificence of Antonio Brown would offset his toxicity off of it. Didn’t work. As O.J. Simpson so eloquently said on Twitter, “In any event, I don’t have to worry about that anymore. He’s gone.”
So the Patriots are back where they were on the Friday before their season opener. Incredibly deep and talented on defense. Shallow at wideout and tight end. The wrinkle injected this weekend as they take on the Jets? The offensive line is banged up and they are missing their fullback. Will it matter to the bottom line? Doubtful. But the product may not look as omnipotent offensively as it did. Defensively? The Patriots can be the first team in the modern era to stop opponents from scoring a touchdown in the first three games.
WHEN THE PATRIOTS RUN
The Patriots ground game hasn’t been great the first two weeks. They ran for 99 on 29 carries in Week 1 and 124 on 35 carries last week. They are averaging 3.5 yards per carry and lead back Sony Michel hasn’t shaken loose yet. This week, it’s going to be tough. The Patriots are without fullback James Develin. They’re still shorthanded at tight end without Benjamin Watson and will be relying on Ryan Izzo and Matt Lacosse. Newcomers Korey Cunningham and right tackle and Marshall Newhouse are the tackles. The Jets have been very solid against the run except for four carries by the Bills’ Devin Singletary in the opener which went for 20, 23, 12 and 15. In defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ 3-4, the Jets have Leonard Williams, Steve McClendon and Henry Anderson across the front. Working in the Patriots favor is the fact that talented linebacker C.J. Mosley is less than 100 percent with a groin injury and rookie first-round pick Quinnen Williams has an ankle issue. Both are doubtful. The Jets’ safeties – Marcus Maye and Jamal Adams are both heavy hitters and willing to help in the run game.
WHEN THE JETS RUN
The Patriots have been absolutely stifling against the run and it will be fascinating to see them deal with Le'Veon Bell on Sunday because New York really isn’t going to threaten much through the air. Bell has 38 for 128 in two games against the Bills and Browns. He’s going to have big issues finding running room against a Patriots defense allowing 2.6 YPC.
WHEN THE PATRIOTS PASS
The issues along the offensive line and Brown’s exit are going to have a domino effect on the Patriots passing game. The Patriots still have high-end talent at wideout with Julian Edelman and a physical option in Josh Gordon. They still have one of the hardest offenses in the league to defend against schematically because of the formations, motions, personnel groupings and versatility. They use their backs in the passing game as well as anyone. But they have no proven tight end option (though Lacosse sparked optimism last week) and the blitzing style of Gregg Williams’ defense means the Patriots will need to keep some extra bodies in to protect. The Patriots will be looking to get it out quick and that means they’ll have to win 1-on-1 quickly. Keep an eye on Jakobi Meyers getting a high number of looks.
WHEN THE JETS PASS
The Jets were 2 for 16 on third and fourth down on Monday against the Browns. The Patriots are allowing 18.5 percent third down conversions (and you can go back to the Super Bowl and see that they were at the same clip in that game, so it’s not just the opponent). With Luke Falk at the controls and the Patriots probably inclined to dial up pressure, the ball will come out quickly and in the direction of Bell and slot receiver Jamison Crowder. Robbie Anderson, who got a little lippy about Stephon Gilmore’s penchant for holding this week, is the Jets best outside threat. You get a free subscription to our website if Falk throws for more than 200 by the end of the third quarter.
Stephen Gostkowski missed three kicks last week. A 48-yarder and two PATs. It was probably his worst game as a pro and he needs a bounceback for his own peace of mind and that of the team. Jake Bailey’s been solid so far after taking over for Ryan Allen. The Jets cycled through kickers until settling on Sam Ficken who made his lone attempt last week in his first game with the team. Braxton Berrios is the Jets punt returner.
OUT: FB James Develin (neck). QUESTIONABLE: S Nate Ebner (groin), T Marcus Cannon (shoulder), TE Ryan Izzo (calf) and TE Matt LaCosse (ankle).
OUT: QB Sam Darnold (illness) and LB Jordan Jenkins (calf). DOUBTFUL: LB C.J. Mosley (groin), WR Demaryius Thomas (hamstring, knee) and DT Quinnen Williams (ankle). QUESTIONABLE: T Kelvin Beachum (ankle), WR Josh Bellamy (shoulder), RB Trenton Cannon (ankle, hamstring), DT Steve McLendon (hip), S Rontez Miles (hip), G Kelechi Osemele (knee), CB Brian Poole (groin), and G Brian Winters (shoulder).
Patriots favored by 22.5. Total 43.5.
Patriots 20, Jets 6
Week 1: Patriots 16, Steelers 13
Week 2: Patriots 30, Dolphins 0