The New York Jets offense has been on a pretty good streak lately, getting a little closer each week to putting it all together. The first meeting with the New England Patriots was the first game of the return to a ground and pound offense, and the offense has certainly settled since then. One interesting development is the commonly shared thought that the Jets need to throw more than they did in the first matchup. That notion is a bit off.
Three Keys to the Game:
Be the Ground and Pound Jets: There's been a ton of talk this week about how the Jets didn't throw the ball enough since the Patriots have the worst pass defense in the league. In actuality, the Jets set themselves up with three third down and short yardage situations on the first three drives of the game in their last meeting. Twice they face third and two yards, once third and one yard, and the Jets threw the ball each time. they set themselves up in those situations by running the ball effectively. The past few weeks the Jets have trusted their running game to pick up first down on third and short, something that could have changed the outcome of the last meeting with New England. The Patriots are giving up 4.2 yards per carry, only one-tenth of a yard less per rush than the much-maligned Jets run defense.
Stretch the Field: The number of passes doesn't necessarily need to increase, but the Jets do need to stretch the field and challenge the Patriots secondary when they do throw. It seemed as if every route was within 15 yards of the line of scrimmage, condensing the ground the Patriots had to cover. Look for the Jets to use play-action to create separation between the linebackers and the secondary, and also look for them to take some deep shots and force the New England secondary to cover down the field. In case you haven't heard yet, the Patriots give up the most yards in the NFL through the air.
Minimize Mistakes: The Jets had a chance last week to put the Buffalo Bills away early. The Mark Sanchez interception took points off the board, and other mistakes killed drives, keeping the Bills in the game despite the dominance that was being displayed by the Jets offense. Tom Brady is not a guy you want to keep giving opportunities to. If the Jets have an opportunity to step on New England's throat early, they need to do it. Not beating yourself with turnovers and penalties makes the job much easier.
Brian Schottenheimer needs to make sure the struggles of the Patriots secondary don't draw him into making his offense try to be something that it's not. The Jets aren't going to be a flying circus, as evidenced by their early season issues. There are plenty of holes to be found in New England run defense, and establishing the ground game will open up opportunities to really make it count when the Jets do throw. The way Gang Green's offense has played recently, the only thing that can stop them this week is themselves.
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