In order to get a better understanding of New England’s upcoming opponent, we exchanged questions with MacGregor Wells of Pats Pulpit’s sister site Gang Green Nation — the SB Nation community for all things Jets.
Here are MacGregor’s answers to our questions.
1. There was talk of Zach Wilson possibly turning a corner after playing clean football against the Bills. Do you think that performance had more to do with scheme, Wilson’s decision-making, or a bit of both?
I would say a bit of both. Wilson definitely made better decisions against the Bills, but the scheme also was designed to neutralize the Bills’ pass rush with short and medium range throws, letting Wilson get the ball out quickly and avoiding too many snaps under pressure, where Wilson struggles badly.
2. Were there any offensive opportunities you noticed in these teams’ Week 8 matchup that could be capitalized on in the rematch? Do you foresee any tweaks to their game plan?
For the Patriots I would say the best plan would be to avoid the Jets’ outside cornerbacks like the plague. Short and medium range passes in the middle of the field, mostly to backs, tight ends and slot receivers, should exploit the Jets’ coverage weaknesses at linebacker and to a lesser extent safety, as well as making it difficult for the Jets’ pass rush to get home in the limited time it takes to execute such pass plays.
The Jets need to take the ball out of Zach Wilson’s hands more. The Patriots have dominated Wilson. Yet the Jets for some inexplicable reason chose to have Wilson throw the ball 41 times last game, the second most pass attempts in Wilson’s career. Wilson’s worst numbers against any opponent have been against the Patriots, so naturally the Jets decide to have Wilson throwing the ball all over the field against the Patriots? Really odd game plan last game. The Jets need to limit Wilson’s passing, give him as many quick, safe throws as possible, and try to pound the running game while relying on an excellent defense to keep the game close.
3. How were the Jets able to contain an explosive Bills passing game in Week 9? How much of Josh Allen’s performance had to do with his lack of execution versus the Jets’ own execution and plan?
The Jets just match up better against the Bills than most teams. The Bills offense is all Josh Allen, all the time. The running game outside of Allen scrambling is an afterthought. The Bills like to have Allen throw and throw and throw downfield. The Jets have arguably the best outside cornerback duo in the NFL, and a really good pass rush to put pressure on Allen, who is prone to mistakes — an ideal antidote to Allen’s vertical passing game. Limit the Bills’ big plays and they struggle. That’s what happened in Week 9. This isn’t to say the Jets are a lock against the Bills. The Bills have the offensive talent to embarrass anyone in any given game. But the Jets’ defense matches up better against them than most teams do.
4. The Jets’ defense dominated the Patriots’ last time around, plowing through the offensive line and suffocating downfield options. Is there anything the defense can do to be even more formidable?
Well, probably not. I think the Jets’ defense played about as well as they can play in the last matchup. I expect the Patriots to make some adjustments to limit the effectiveness of the Jets’ pass rush this time around. Specifically, I expect the Patriots to emphasize getting the ball out quickly, making it difficult for the Jets pass rush to have enough time to get home. If the Patriots avoid the Jets’ outside cornerbacks and attack the middle of the field with quick throws, that should go a long way towards the Patriots having more success against the Jets’ defense in the rematch.
5. The Jets are 3.5-point underdogs on DraftKings Sportsbook heading into Foxborough despite just having beat an AFC powerhouse before their bye week. Is there a valid reason for this beyond the history between these teams?
Actually I think the spread is about right for this game. In the first game the 3-4 Patriots were favorites in East Rutherford against the 5-2 Jets, which I thought didn’t make a lot of sense. In this one the 5-4 Patriots already have a win against the 6-3 Jets this season and the Patriots are at home, yet they only are favored by 3.5 points. That means on a neutral field this game would basically be a pick-em game, which I think is probably fair to both teams. Throw in the Patriots’ historical dominance over Zach Wilson, and for a much longer period, over the Jets, and I have no problem with the betting spread in this game. I just hope the Jets can finally end the Patriots’ dominance for at least one game this week.
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