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3 advantages the NY Jets hold over the New England Patriots

Robert Saleh, Bill Belichick, New York Jets Head Coach, New England Patriots Head Coach
Robert Saleh, Bill Belichick, New York Jets, New England Patriots, Getty Images, Jet X Graphic

Killing disadvantageous matchups is what Bill Belichick does best

The Son of Satan comes to MetLife Stadium this week.

Well, not really, but The Hoodie is close enough.

Bill Belichick is notorious for exploiting matchups to his team’s advantage. His 1990 Super Bowl gameplan as defensive coordinator for the Giants against the Bills is in the Hall of Fame, preceding him, due to his masterful plan to punish the Bills’ Hall of Fame receiving corps. Last season, he guided rookie quarterback Mac Jones to the playoffs; considering Jones’s level of play thus far this season, that seems like more of a miracle than ever.

Considering Belichick’s genius, it’s critical for the New York Jets to fully take advantage of any matchups that favor them. The Patriots have beaten two bad teams this season and a third that was playing their backup quarterback. In their four losses, they’ve looked like a legitimately bad football team, closer to a Top-10 draft pick than a playoff push. The Jets need to make them look more like that team than the one that beat the Lions 29-0 three weeks ago.

Here are three matchups that the Jets need to exploit in order to defeat their nemesis.

Jets’ running game vs. Patriots’ run defense

The Patriots’ defense is ranked ninth in overall DVOA, but as with the previous two weeks, there’s a stark split: they’re fifth in passing defense DVOA and 28th in rush defense DVOA. That should dictate the gameplan, which feeds into what the Jets like to do best: run the football.

Additionally, the Patriots may be without their valuable defensive tackle, Christian Barmore, who is their key run-stopper. Barmore’s 11.1% run-stop rate ranks eighth-best out of 87 qualified interior defenders (min. 70 run-defense snaps). He did not play Monday night and did not practice Wednesday due to a knee injury.

If Barmore cannot go, this skews the matchup even more heavily in favor of the Jets. The Patriots already have the lowest stuff rate (10%) of any defense in the NFL with Barmore.

Obviously, the loss of Breece Hall removes a tremendous threat from the Jets’ backfield, which currently ranks 11th in offensive rush DVOA. However, Michael Carter and James Robinson form a capable duo in the backfield.

Carter was in the 58th percentile among backs in DYAR (Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement, tracking the player’s value above a replacement-level player) last season despite playing behind a makeshift offensive line for much of the year. He also managed to post a 51% Success Rate (50th percentile) behind that line. Though he’s been struggling more this season, his opportunities have been more limited since Breece Hall took over the primary backfield duties.

Robinson, meanwhile, was seventh among all backs in DYAR and sixth in DVOA last season behind a Jaguars offensive line that ranked 23rd in the NFL, per Sharp Football Analysis (tracked based on Sports Info Solutions’ Points Above Average metric).

The Jets still have a good one-two punch in the backfield, even if it’s not near the level that it was previously.

A bigger question, perhaps, is how the offensive line will perform without its best run-blocker, Alijah Vera-Tucker. It seemed that the Jets couldn’t get anything going on the ground against Denver once Hall and Vera-Tucker left the game. This Patriots’ run defense is significantly worse than Denver’s by DVOA, but it remains to be seen if the Jets can continue their dominance on the ground.

Jets’ RBs out of the backfield vs. Patriots’ flat defenders

This may seem related to the first one, but it’s a category unto itself.

New England’s defense is the third-worst in the NFL in covering running backs with a DVOA of 34.7%. Although the Patriots have allowed just 26 catches out of the backfield, those have been pretty destructive. Those catches have yielded 265 yards, an average of 10.2 yards per pass that is the second-highest among all NFL defenses. The Patriots also allow 7.8 yards per attempt on passes to RBs, the highest number in the NFL.

It appears that the Patriots may be lucky that teams haven’t attempted many checkdowns or screen passes to running backs against them since they’re pretty poor in defending it.

Once again, without Breece Hall, the Jets will definitely be missing the possible explosive element of their running backs in the receiving game. However, Carter is a solid receiving option out of the backfield, as he has 20 receptions for 151 yards (7.6 YPR) this season. He showed last week that he can turn upfield and outrun a linebacker to gain extra yards after the catch.

Robinson had 49 receptions for 344 yards and 3 touchdowns out of the backfield in 2020, showing that he can be a complementary piece in the passing game, as well.

The Jets attempted many screen passes last week, including several to running backs. This would be a good week to continue that trend.

Jets’ edge rushers vs. Patriots’ tackles

This has more to do with the Patriots’ tackles than the Jets’ edge rushers. While Carl Lawson (10.9%) and John Franklin-Myers (10.8%) are both middle-of-the-pack when it comes to pressure rate, Isaiah Wynn (7.2%) and Trent Brown (5.7%) are above the league-average pressure rate for tackles (5.3%). In particular, Franklin-Myers, Jermaine Johnson (assuming he plays), and Bryce Huff can go to work against Wynn on the right side of the offensive line.

Huff is the Jets’ best pure pass rusher right now in limited snaps. His still-high 18.8% pressure rate (12 pressures on 64 snaps) will have the Jets licking their chops on passing downs.

Possible bonus: Quinnen Williams vs. Patriots’ backup center James Ferentz

With Patriots’ center David Andrews currently in concussion protocol following a dirty hit from ex-Jet Mike Pennel on Monday night, it is up in the air who will play center for New England against the Jets.

If Andrews can’t go, his backup is James Ferentz. The Jets have fond memories of Ferentz, who was trounced by Folurunso Fatukasi in their late-2020 meeting. Officially, Ferentz had three pressures allowed in 89 pass-blocking snaps that season, which would just about hit the NFL average. However, the stats belie what the Jets’ DT did to him that day.

2020 Fatukasi was no 2022 Quinnen Williams. The Jets’ DT is having a breakout year, leading all interior defensive linemen with 29 pressures and a 15.1% pressure rate that is almost twice the league average for DTs. He’s also tied for the league lead among IDL with five sacks.

However, Andrews would be a challenge for Williams. His 2.5% pressure rate is in the 69th percentile for centers, and he’s been charged with just one sack.

While Quinnen often lines up over the guard’s outside shoulder in a 3-technique, he also plays 2i, in which he is positioned over the guard’s inside shoulder. In that case, the center would be part of a possible double-team or be responsible for picking up Williams on a stunt. Quinnen also occasionally plays the 1-tech on the center’s shoulder.

If Andrews cannot go, you can count on the Jets lining Williams up against Ferentz.

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1 year ago

Funny that you point to RB’s out of the backfield….watching the Bears game I thought that we better be ready for the Patriots doing the same to us. It seems like we are susceptible to RB’s catching the ball? Where do we rank?

A win this Sunday would be huge for ending streaks and exorcising “ghosts” (not just Darnold’s). Beat Belicheat

1 year ago

I was semi-waiting for P Jake Bailey vs the Jets return game!

1 year ago
Reply to  Rivka Boord

That’s my X-factor. Need the speed against this defense!

Jim G
1 year ago

Nice analysis of these potential matchup advantages for the Jets. I look at this game as Michael Carter’s chance for a coming out party. He will have a lot on his shoulders due to a near replacement level offensive line, but it is a great opportunity for him. A win here for the Jets will be a real character builder.

Peter Buell
1 year ago

It’s impossible to even have a negative thought about the job Jo’s Douglas has done. That said, Joe needs to go against everything he believes in and get a good offensive lineman in here.
We are basically down to back ups back ups. I’ve made it clear I don’t have the knowledge of the league or the intricacies of the details involving a trade.
What I do know is the team needs a good, at the very minimum tackle ot guard and they need him soon.
To begin with the immediate. JD can’t let a team with a 5-2 record go into a 3 or 4 game slide.
Every offensive weapon you could think of was brought in to make sure that Zack Wilson had his best chance of success and at the same time management can get a good read on what they have in Wilson.
Get a good to very good lineman with at least 3 years control in here and pay what it cost.
Ik it goes against every fiber of JDs being to trade draft capital.
As we stand here now line has to be the first order of business in next years draft. It’s just being accelerated with a penalty because of urgency.
There are teams under-performing who might be selling, teams that are just bad or teams doing what we were for the past two years.
1. has to be good to very good
2. has to be controlled
3. cannot put you in salary cap he’ll so if a large contract it must be able to be re-structired or get out without too much pain.
…. 3 is the most difficult so you pay a premium.
Joe! Ik this kills you but Zach had 3 guys chasing him the wrong way way too often in Denver.
We don’t learn about Zach and we don’t finish the season with that good feeling. A couple guys will be back after the bye and that’s when a new line can gel with 2 weeks to work together.
Getting Robinson will be a waste if he’s running into a brick wall.

Jonathan Richter
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Buell

I don’t think Ogbuehi was the problem against Denver. Laken Tomlinson has been a turnstile all year. Signing another Tackle won’t fix that. I think Ogbuehi is good enough to beat the Patsies, and I’m not sure anyone is good enough for us to beat the Bills. Hopefully Fant and Mitchell are back after the bye.

1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Buell

As Rivka said yesterday, and I wholeheartedly agree, unless we can get some kind of long-term quality guy in here w/o killing our cap situation it makes little sense to make a move. We are not on a Superbowl run, we have had unforeseen success. We are not in “win now” mode. Many didn’t have us winning the five games we already have. Let’s see where we are w/ Ubeghi(?), Mitchell and Fant before we chase more wins.