By: Steve Balestrieri
The Patriots were able to pull out an unbelievable impressive victory over the previously unbeaten New Orleans Saints 30-27 on Sunday. Tom Brady hit Kenbrell Thompkins for a 17 yard touchdown with 5 seconds left to earn a hard fought victory.
The Patriots (5-1) defense held Drew Brees to under 50 percent of his throws and only 230 yards passing. They also were able to blank TE Jimmy Graham who had come in with four 100 yard receiving games in a row.
The Jets (3-3) lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday at the Meadowlands 19-6 on Sunday continuing their season of winning one and losing one as they’ve been struggling to find some continuity to their game.
After a big win over the Falcons on the previous Monday night, excitement was high for the team facing the previous winless Steelers but the offense couldn’t get untracked and rookie QB Geno Smith was picked off twice.
Let’s take a look at 5 Newer Impressions of the Jets:
Jets Defense is For Real: The Jets can rush the QB with Quinton Coples, Antwan Barnes, Calvin Pace and Garrett McIntyre and can blitz inside linebackers David Harris and DeMario Davis in the exotic blitz schemes similar to what Rob Ryan did last week with the Saints.
The Jets are the #2 team defense against the rush allowing only 75.7 yards per game and much of that success has to do with Muhammad Wilkerson, the 6’4, 315 force inside of the Jets defensive line. Wilkerson has emerged in his third season as one of the better interior defensive linemen in the league and is a constant disruption.
Add in Sheldon Richardson and the Jets are deep and talented in their defensive line and are only getting better. Through the first six games while their offense is having its issues finding the consistency they’re looking for, the defense has kept them in every game.
Rookie QB Smith Is Developing: One of the problems with playing rookie quarterbacks such as the Jets Geno Smith, is that their progression will be from time to time peppered with bumps in the road. Smith is no exception.
One week after being AFC Offensive Player of the Week in their victory over the Falcons, Smith suffered a step back in their loss to the Steelers. He threw two costly interceptions deep inside Pittsburgh territory that ultimately cost the Jets the game.
Up to this point, the Jets coaches, Rex Ryan and Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg have stayed conservative in their play calling in an attempt to protect their star pupil. It may be the time to take the reins off and let him play in the deep end of the pool this week.
Jets Running Backs Banged Up: In the loss to the Steelers, the Jets were unable to run the ball as effectively as they were wanting to, gaining only 75 yards on 17 carries. While Pittsburgh’s defense remains a tough one against the run, the Jets also had injury issues crop up, limiting their depth at the position.
Mike Goodson tore his ACL and was lost for the season and Bilal Powell suffered a shoulder injury during the game and missed some time. That would seem to put the onus on Chris Ivory who had only 4 carries on Sunday, but he’s had some lingering hamstring issues dating back to training camp.
With New England’s defensive interior banged up and LB Jerod Mayo likely to miss this week at least, look for Ivory to get more than his normal share of 7-10 carries on Sunday as the Jets will look to establish the run.
Cromartie Injury Has Secondary Questionable: The Jets pass defense has remained strong this season, allowing only 228.2 yards per game but after being lights out for the first three games, the past three they’ve had issues as opposing QBs had their best statistical day of the year.
CB Antonio Cromartie’s injury status has much to do with this, normally left alone on the perimeter; Cromartie is playing through injury and is far from 100 percent. It was glaringly evident on Sunday, Emmanuel Sanders beat him to the inside off the line and Cromartie was unable to close, something he normally does with ease. The result was a 55 yard touchdown.
Rookie corner Dee Milliner is banged up as is Kyle Wilson and with all the shifting bodies out on the field some cracks are beginning to show. They’ll be looking to bring more pressure this week to help out their secondary as it tries to get healthy.
Jet Trying To Get Off Rollercoaster: The Jets weren’t given much love by the preseason pundits and many picked them to finish with only 3-4 wins for the season. But Rex Ryan, has re-energized the team and has them even at 3-3 which certainly has many surprised but not the team.
Now they’re trying to break the cycle of win-one, lose-one as they play very solidly one week, and lose their focus the next. It was certainly the case last week facing the winless Steelers, the Jets came in on an emotional high after a big win in Atlanta and let a big opportunity slip away.
Now the Patriots coming in, the crowd will be loud and raucous, the team sky-high and the chance to close in on the division lead. A loss would be disastrous in terms of any hopes of winning the division as this would effectively drop them four games behind New England. They know the time is now for them to turn things around.
“We talk about wanting to be a playoff team,” linebacker Calvin Pace said. “But to be a playoff team, you’ve got to win more than one game. If you win one, lose one, you’re going to end up 8-8. We have to be better than that.”