Whenever it comes to the Patriots against the Jets the form book is very often torn up and thrown into the fire and neutrals find themselves treated to a truly competitive NFL match up – while fans of the two teams must suffer hours of
nail biting high stakes football.
But this time it looks like it could be harder than ever to avoid the “Thursday Night Curse” as the Jets need to make some serious improvements to avoid finding themselves going up in flames.
Jets in meltdown
Having lost their last five in a row, it would be safe to say that the Jets are struggling right now. Traditionally they’re a team built around running the football but the “ground and pound” just hasn’t been working for them recently – they ran for only 31 yards against the Broncos last week.
And if you’re a Jets fan you may want to look away while we talk about Geno’s passing game. The fact that the 24-year-old has given up more pick sixes than any other QB in the NFL over the last two years is truly worrying.
But all of the doom and gloom in New York could be banished by a victory tonight and there is nothing like a fierce divisional rivalry (this will be the Jets' first of the season) to get any struggling team going. And there are actually a few other signs of hope that Rex Ryan may want to point out to his struggling team.
Signs of hope
Three of the last four meetings between the two sides were decided by three points with the most recent W from the fixture being added to the Jets record last year. The Jets have gone 1-1 with Patriots often enough in the last decade to show that they can still be competitive with their rivals and if anybody can coaches against Tom Brady it’s Rex Ryan.
So what must the Jets do? The answer is very simple and comes in two parts.
Firstly they’ve got to use the dominance of their front line defenders to shrink the pocket around Tom Brady and increase the pressure on him. The only stat worth reading for a Jets fan right now is that they’ve registered 19 sacks so far this season – that’s joint second in the NFL.
The intensity with which we’ve seen Muhammad Wilkerson and Demario Davis rush quarterbacks recently has been one of the most significant defensive strengths and when you consider how much Brady has struggled under defensive rush this season the Jets may just have the tools to make the three-time Super Bowl winning QB buckle under their pressure.
Focus on the run
Secondly, the Jets just have to get their running game back into focus. Using the running game is a great way of hiding problems with your quarterback and indeed your wide receivers too – arguably two of the biggest problems in New York right now.
Running back Chris Ivory is crying out for the opportunity to take the ball up the field and with Jerod Mayo, arguably the best linebacker on the Patriots’ roster – especially when it comes to central coverage, out with injury, this game could be perfect for getting that Jets running game up and running.
The only problem? Under Rex Ryan it’s been a side of their game that has been firmly neglected and given their recent struggles with it the Jets may even simply neglect to try it out.
And let’s not get ahead of ourselves in order to get something out of this game the Jets are going to have improve tenfold on almost every performance they’ve put in so far this year and I just don’t think there’s enough confidence or quality across the board in this current roster to do that.
This may have been a close match-up when the sides both had quality in them but the last time the Jets came into this game with a struggling squad (both on paper and on the field) they were handed a 45-3 blowout.
And when you compare Rob Gronkowski's improved performance of late with the huge defensive holes in the Jets' secondary and historical inability to cover tight ends the Gillette Stadium in Foxborough may well see a repeat of that 2011 destruction.