Readjusting to life without Alijah Vera-Tucker is priority No. 1 for the Jets
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ—The New York Jets face a sticky situation that simply cannot be denied—something similar to what Rex Ryan’s 2010 squad faced.
The 9-2 Jets invaded New England to take on the also 9-2 Patriots for a Monday Night Football showdown. The winner would take sole control of the AFC East with just four games to play.
Despite much anticipation, Bill Belichick’s Pats demolished the upstart Jets, 45-3. New York lost three of its last five games, beginning with that primetime disappointment against New England.
What in the world happened? Well, quite frankly, it took some time for those Jets to rediscover their identity.
Safety Jim Leonhard—one of the defensive leaders of the team, the very same man who Ryan included on the cover of one of his books—missed the 45-3 thrashing. He hit injured reserve prior to that matchup and missed the rest of the season.
Although the Jets ultimately found their footing, which included the stunning 28-21 divisional round win in Foxborough, MA, it took some time for them to figure it out.
Twelve years later presents a new yet familiar problem: Robert Saleh’s Jets are ready to take on the Patriots without the heart and soul of their team, Alijah Vera-Tucker.
Vera-Tucker, 23, is set to miss the rest of the 2022 NFL season courtesy of a torn triceps. Yes, Breece Hall’s torn ACL is undoubtedly brutal, but the AVT injury raises an incredible number of questions that stretch far beyond the X’s and O’s on the field.
Like Leonhard, AVT’s leadership and presence is something that has flown under the radar since Joe Douglas excitingly traded up in the 2021 NFL draft to snag him. And while the New York Jets 2022 season is far from over—they have plenty of time to figure it out—the first game without the USC product in the lineup may sting more than most folks realize.
Jets vs. Patriots game info
- New York Jets (5-2)
- New England Patriots (3-4)
- NFL, Week 8, Oct. 30, 2022, 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS
- MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
The New York Jets and New England Patriots are scheduled to kick off at 1:00 p.m. ET from MetLife Stadium on Sunday. The game can be seen on CBS, whose excellent broadcast tandem of Ian Eagle and Charles Davis is tasked with calling the game (for the second-straight Jets contest).
At 5-2, the Jets are sitting pretty in the AFC East standings. A win over the Pats would keep them just a half-game behind the Buffalo Bills, who are set to take on the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night.
A win would also create three full games of separation between them and Bill Belichick’s squad. A loss would move New England to just one game behind in the division.
|3||New England Patriots||8||9||0||.471||3-3||364||347||4-4||4-5||L1|
|4||New York Jets||7||10||0||.412||2-4||296||316||3-5||4-5||L6|
New York is set to unveil its Stealth Black helmets for the first time in franchise history:
The Stealth Black helmet debut. pic.twitter.com/MuSP9KZdUd
— New York Jets (@nyjets) October 26, 2022
Jets vs. Patriots history
- The Patriots lead the all-time series 71-54-1.
At one point, the Jets were neck and neck with the Pats. But then a guy named Tom Brady came along and changed everything.
Since Brady’s first start against the Jets in 2001, New England is 35-8 against New York. This means the Jets-Pats all-time series was once sitting at 36-46-1 in favor of the New Jersey-based football team. (That was until the football world-altering Mo Lewis sideline thump on Drew Bledsoe set an entirely new set of circumstances in motion.)
Belichick’s club has won the last 12 and 15 of the last 16. Not since Ryan Fitzpatrick’s magical 2015 season have the Jets come out on top.
Jets vs. Patriots odds (FanDuel Sportsbook)
- Spread: Jets +2.5 (-105), Patriots -2.5 (-115)
- Moneyline: Jets +124, Patriots -146
- Over/Under: 39.5 (O: -115, U: -105)
Interestingly (and amazingly), the oddsmakers have made the Jets the home dogs. The Pats yield 2.5 points as the road team.
Jets vs. Patriots injury report
New York Jets
- Corey Davis (Knee): Out
- Duane Brown (Shoulder): Questionable
- Jermaine Johnson (Ankle): Questionable
Yet again, not including the players on injured reserve, a list that has grown impactfully since last week, the Jets’ active roster comes in relatively healthy.
Corey Davis will miss this one, but disgruntled wideout Elijah Moore is back. How that situation plays out after his public outburst is anybody’s best guess.
Duane Brown is expected to play, in spite of his questionable status.
New England Patriots
- David Andrews (Concussion): Out
- Christian Barmore (Out): Out
- Nelson Agholor (Hamstring): Questionable
- Kyle Dugger (Ankle): Questionable
- Anfernee Jennings (Calf): Questionable
- Jonathan Jones (Ankle): Questionable
- Adrian Phillips (Shoulder): Questionable
- Josh Uche (Hamstring): Questionable
- Isaiah Wynn (Shoulder): Questionable
David Andrews’s injury is a big one for the Pats, especially if they want sophomore quarterback Mac Jones to get off to a good start. Christian Barmore will join Andrews, an injury that should ease at least some concerns about Vera-Tucker’s absence.
Jets keys to victory
Stay true to the defensive DNA
Contrasting to what Belichick is and how he rose to football immortality, the Jets in this one don’t have the ability to get too cute. Belichick, the ultimate chameleon, whose game plans often chamged drastically based on the opponent, should get a Jets team focused more on what they do best as opposed to what they think they should do to shut down New England.
This means Saleh should stay true to his team’s DNA.
Since making an egregious mistake against Cincy—which was playing extremely aggressively defensively, with an eye on pressuring Joe Burrow with extra rushers—the Jets defense has gone back to its “keep everything in front nature.”
While the Pats present a myriad of problems on the ground, the Jets cannot afford to get cute defensively. Continue rolling with quarters, Cover 6 and 3 Buzz while leaving Jordan Whitehead high with Lamarcus Joyner more often than not, while hoping the lighter box can stymie the ground game.
New York found success doing just that against a solid Denver rushing attack last week. Perhaps the big game-planning key this week is having something in the back-pocket for the situation that does see the Pats get it going on the ground.
Discover a new offensive identity
Offensively, it’s a bit different. Cuteness may be required.
Without Hall, AVT and Davis, Mike LaFleur has a challenge on his hands. What in the world is this offense now?
They will have their hands full with Matt Judon, and they also bring a timid quarterback into the matchup. AVT’s leadership and calm, versatile pretense is gone, so it’s time for Zach Wilson to put the big-boy pants on.
This game may just come down to Wilson’s play.
Chris Streveler was recently promoted to the active roster from the practice squad, so at least some cuteness is expected. In the end, however, this game, alone with the offense’s fortunes the rest of this season, lie with No. 2’s abilities and eventual development.
Jets vs. Patriots prediction
- New York Jets 23, New England Patriots 26
The Jets’ keys to victory are pretty simple in this one: Discover who they are without Alijah Vera-Tucker and Breece Hall. Newcomer James Robinson will pay immediate dividends—especially in the power-rushing attack—but Mike LaFleur has a serious chore on his hands.
The Jets offense will have to rediscover a new identity, one that allows Zach Wilson much more freedom to figure out who he is. This four-game winning streak has kept Wilson limited in a masking-type fashion—other than the win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Without Hall and AVT, this strategy can’t last forever.
Due to the AVT injury, in particular, I have the Patriots squeaking past the Jets at MetLife, 26-23.
Next Article: What kind of running back is James Robinson? (Film)
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