The New York Jets have a limited number of mismatches over the Denver Broncos
The New York Jets are fairly overmatched against the Denver Broncos on paper. Denver is a complete football team that has very few glaring weaknesses on paper as we head into Week 3. Vegas is not off-base to have the Jets as league-leading 10-point underdogs this week.
These three mismatches may be the only ones that the Jets have in their favor, so all three players need to ensure that they fully maximize their opportunities to dominate.
Jets DT Foley Fatukasi vs. Broncos C Lloyd Cushenberry
Foley Fatukasi is up to his usual shenanigans. His 74.4 run-defense grade at Pro Football Focus ranks 10th out of 88 qualified interior defensive linemen this season. He has been a great fit in the Jets’ attacking 4-3 scheme, firing off the ball aggressively to penetrate into the backfield and blow up run plays.
Second-year Broncos center Lloyd Cushenberry has improved his pass protection after a rough rookie season in that phase, but he is having some trouble in the run game. His PFF run-blocking grade of 53.1 ranks 25th out of 32 qualified centers. Denver’s running backs have gained just 7 yards before contact over 15 carries into the A-gaps (0.5 per carry).
The Jets need Fatukasi to rough up Cushenberry and shut down the inside running lanes for Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams.
Jets EDGE John Franklin-Myers vs. Broncos RT Bobby Massie
John Franklin-Myers is thriving at his new home on the edge. His 81.4 overall grade at PFF ranks 10th-best among 86 qualified edge rushers and stands as the second-best among pure left-side defensive ends, trailing only Maxx Crosby of the Raiders.
Franklin-Myers is set to clash with Broncos right tackle Bobby Massie. The 32-year-old is in his first season with Denver after five seasons in Chicago.
Massie has been the weak link of Denver’s offensive line thus far. He has been brutal in pass protection, allowing nine pressures. That total leads the team and ranks third-worst in the NFL among right tackles.
Jaguars left defensive end Dawaune Smoot – who has been no more than an average edge rusher throughout his career – smoked Massie for four pressures on only 22 pass-rush snaps last week (18.2% pressure rate).
Denver has a mostly solid offensive line. As a team, Denver has the fifth-best PFF pass-blocking grade in the NFL (69.6). Teddy Bridgewater currently leads all qualified quarterbacks in average time from snap to throw (3.10 seconds).
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Franklin-Myers’ edge over Massie is easily the biggest advantage the Jets’ defensive front has over the Broncos’ offensive line in the passing game. He needs to take full advantage of the mismatch to power New York’s pass-rush on its quest to prevent Bridgewater from executing the long-developing deep dropbacks he has thrived upon through two weeks.
Jets LT George Fant vs. Broncos EDGE Malik Reed
George Fant is coming off of a solid season debut at left tackle. He allowed only one pressure over 43 snaps in pass protection.
Fant is set to do battle with Broncos right-side outside linebacker Malik Reed, who is filling in for the injured Bradley Chubb.
Denver’s biggest problem is its lack of pass-rush juice from pass rushers not named Von Miller. Reed is at the forefront of those issues. Over 54 pass-rush snaps (only 3 fewer than Miller), Reed is tied for 151st in the NFL with two pressures.
Fant had a great game against Reed and the Broncos in Week 4 of the 2020 season. Playing right tackle, Fant allowed zero pressures over 56 snaps in pass protection – his best output of the season. Many of those reps against Reed, who rushed from the left side of the defensive line (opposite Fant) 30 times.
The Jets need Fant to replicate that effort on Sunday to keep Zach Wilson comfortable in his first cross-country road game.