These former Jets will get their chance at vengeance from Weeks 9-17 of 2020.
Yesterday, I took a peek at some familiar faces that the Jets are poised to face in the first half of 2020. Let’s move on to the second half.
Week 9: vs. New England Patriots
The Jets also play the Patriots in Week 17, so we’ll save some of the connections for that section.
Brandon Copeland is the lone member of the 2019 Jets roster that is currently slated to be playing under Bill Belichick in 2020. With numerous starters on the Patriots defense opting out of the season, including startling linebacker Dont’a Hightower, Copeland could be playing a key role.
Copeland came to New York in 2018 after three seasons in Detroit and had somewhat of a breakout season, providing some decent play on the edge. He picked up five sacks, eight knockdowns, and 25 hurries, averaging 2.2 pressures over just 20.7 pass-rush snaps per game.
In 2019, Copeland’s season got off on the wrong foot as he missed four games due to a PED violation. Upon return, Copeland was used by Gregg Williams in an ambiguous role that had him splitting time between the edge and off the ball. It was not a good fit, as Copeland struggled in coverage (14/16 passing for 161 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT) and with missed tackles (9 misses against 35 total tackles for a brutal miss rate of 20.5%, sixth-worst among LB).
Williams sent Copeland after the quarterback on just 4.5 snaps per game in 2019. If the Patriots are wise, they will look to get Copeland back to rushing off the edge, where he was at his best in 2018.
Copeland should get the opportunity to compete for the snaps left over by Kyle Van Noy, who signed with Miami. New England drafted edge rushers Josh Uche and Anfernee Simmons in the second and third rounds of the 2020 Draft, respectively, so Copeland will need to beat them out to get regular playing time.
As a noted aficionado of special teams, Belichick certainly must be excited about Copeland’s abilities in that phase. Copeland appeared regularly on five of the six special teams units (save for FG/XP protection) for both the Jets and Lions. Over his career, Copeland has made 17 tackles in kick coverage while missing only three. That’s a miss rate of 15.0%, well below the 2019 special teams average of 25.7%.
Week 10: at Miami Dolphins
If the schedule proceeds as planned, the Jets will play back-to-back games against the Dolphins in Weeks 10 and 12 (with both teams having their bye week in-between). The Jets have only played the same opponent in back-to-back regular season games once before, which was in 1963 (Week 14-15 losses to Buffalo). Interesting quirk by the league to go through with this.
The only current member of Miami’s roster that has donned the “Jets” wordmark on his helmet is Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Fitzpatrick has played the Jets three times since his two-year stint with the team from 2015-16, once with Tampa Bay in 2017 and twice with Miami in 2019. He went 2-1 with 62 completions on 107 attempts for 720 yards (6.7 per attempt / 240.0 per game), four touchdowns, and two interceptions (83.1 passer rating).
The Jets hit rock bottom in 2019 when they lost to the Dolphins in Week 9, allowing Fitzpatrick to shred them to the tune of 288 yards and three touchdowns.
In Week 14, the Jets were more successful against Fitzpatrick, holding him to 21-of-37 passing for 245 yards, no touchdowns, and one interception (another pick was called back). Fitzpatrick did rush for 65 yards in that game, the second-best total of his career. At 37 years and 14 days old on that day, he became the third-oldest quarterback in NFL history to eclipse 60 rushing yards in a game, trailing only two outings by Steve Young in 1998 (37y-50d and 37y-64d).
Week 12: vs. Miami Dolphins
The Jets have two important connections with the Dolphins coaching staff.
Miami running backs coach Eric Studesville held the same position in Denver from 2010-17, sharing the first five seasons of that span with Adam Gase (who was in Denver from 2009-14). Studesville left Denver for Miami in 2018, where he was given the title of “Run Game Coordinator” under Gase.
Gase’s Jets had Studesville’s running backs figured out in 2019. Over two games, Miami’s running backs carried the ball 38 times for 101 yards (2.7 per carry) and zero touchdowns.
The Dolphins fired offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea after one season and replaced him with Chan Gailey, who led the Jets offense from 2015-16.
Gailey orchestrated a surprisingly good attack in 2015, as the Jets placed 10th in scoring per drive (1.95) and 14th in offensive DVOA. Some of the accomplishments that he led individual players to that season are downright staggering.