After a respectable effort against the Bills, the post-Rodgers Jets face a tall task in Texas
The post-Aaron Rodgers era came far sooner than expected for the New York Jets.
That, of course, is no fault of Rodgers’ own, but the fact remains that his Achilles injury will keep him out of at least the foreseeable future, starting with Sunday’s visit to North Texas to battle the Dallas Cowboys.
It seems hard to believe that a game featuring Breece Hall, Garrett Wilson, Tony Pollard, CeeDee Lamb, and more could potentially become a low-scoring struggle, but both defensive units are firing on all cylinders after Week 1 action.
For the Jets, such a rise was a necessity after the Rodgers incident, but subjective domination of the Buffalo Bills’ lauded unit provided legitimate hope for the near future. The Jets earned four turnovers from the arms of Josh Allen with Jordan Whitehead earning three interceptions alone en route to Xavier Gipson’s special teams heroics in a brief extra session that yielded a 22-16 New York victory.
Dallas proved equally successful on MetLife Stadium turf in Week 1, capping off the Sunday sessions with a 40-0 shellacking of the Jets’ blue roommates. The Cowboys ironically opened their victory with special teams antics, as a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown signaled the start of the slaughter. Seven sacks of Daniel Jones followed, as did three turnovers that kept the hapless Giants off the board.
Though rare, the Jets-Cowboys series has produced some thrillers, as each of the last three meetings, all New York victories, have been decided by three points or less. This will be the Jets’ first visit to the palatial AT&T Stadium since their original descent back in 2015, which yielded a 19-16 triumph.
What: New York Jets (1-0) @ Dallas Cowboys (1-0)
Where: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX
When: Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS
Who: DAL -8.5
— Jets X-Factor (@jetsxfactor) September 17, 2023
What’s New in Dallas?
With the exception of Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas has run back most of its new-decade core overseen by quarterback Dak Prescott. As the Cowboys continue to struggle to get over the Divisional round hump, they sought accomplished veteran talents like Stephon Gilmore and Brandin Cooks, though the latter is not expected to play on Sunday due to a knee injury.
As the pressure and scrutiny rises around Prescott, the Cowboys took the radical step of firing offensive coordinator Kellen Moore and turning the unit’s headset over to former Jets offensive boss Brian Schottenheimer. Head coach Mike McCarthy, owner of an equally warm seat in the metroplex, has been bestowed playcalling duties.
How to Beat the Cowboys
Run All Night
Billy Madison needs to grab the face of every Jets fan and advise them to “cherish it,” it, in this case, being the Breece Hall rookie contract era.
Hall won’t be the be-all, end-all to the Jets’ presumed post-Rodgers offensive woes and it’d be downright cruel to ask him to bear the full burden of such a load considering he’s coming off an injury of his own (even if it appeared long-forgotten in a 127-yard night against the Bills). The same goes for Dalvin Cook, who showed flashes in the Buffalo win despite a late arrival to camp.
THERE GOES BREECE HALL! 83 YARDS!
— NFL (@NFL) September 12, 2023
But, when it comes to Dallas, any effort that can be made to keep Trevon Diggs and Micah Parson out of the box score – as well as anything that minimizes the potential for Zach Wilson mistakes – is a welcome endeavor. The numbers don’t lie when it comes to the Cowboys’ struggles to stop the run: in this new decade, the Cowboys are 7-18 when letting up at least 125 rushing yards, an output that includes their 2021-22 Wild Card playoff loss to San Francisco.
The Jets’ ground picture is rather detailed, as Michael Carter has proven equally capable of getting out a clutch rush every now and then. While there must be a sense of load management to the Jets’ run game in the coming months, pounding it in Arlington could help keep the good vibes rolling.
Make Dak and Mac Attack
North Texas’ newfound gridiron joy and euphoria were brought about by a brilliant defensive effort – and a few self-inflicted wounds from the Giants.
In any case, the metroplex’s sports talk radio airwaves steered away from Prescott and McCarthy’s job security for a change, replaced instead by talks of finally breaking an NFC title game appearance jinx that’s closing in on three decades. A 40-0 rate in game one seems to hint at strong results for the first stanza of having McCarthy literally linger in Prescott’s ear, but there’s certainly some fine print to sift through.
Dallas had trouble fully capitalizing on some early opportunities the Giants gave them, settling for Brandon Aubrey field goals before Pollard finally helped them break through. The Cowboys needed to muster only 265 yards in the victory, as both their defense and the Giants were happy to set them up with prime field position. Perhaps the top highlight was the fact that Prescott, last year’s leader in interceptions thrown, protected the ball all night, but threw for 143 yards on 24 attempts on a relatively quiet evening.
The Jets could be doing Dallas a favor if they try to force the newly-formed playcalling duo to try to win the game themselves. That, of course, will require bottling up Dallas’ own elite run game and taking the top aerial option, Lamb, out of the conversation.
Lamb proved himself well-worthy and then some of the Cowboys’ top receiving duties last season but there’s a reason they coveted Cooks. Behind Lamb’s 1,359 yards earned in 2022, the top returning catcher is Michael Gallup, who earned just 424 in 14 games.
- Geoff Magliocchetti: A Rodgers injury shouldn’t fully sink the Jets but asking them to beat a scorching-hot Cowboys team, which will do its part to avoid another blowout, is a bit too much to ask at this point in time. Cowboys 20, Jets 14
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags