By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Jets have outrageously long odds of upsetting the Patriots on Sunday, and rightfully so. But if they want to believe they have any hope of pulling off the unthinkable, they absolutely have to disrupt Tom Brady with their pass-rushers.
New York's front-seven hasn't been the most consistent group to start the 2019 season, but they do not lack talent. Former top-10 picks Leonard Williams and Quinnen Williams are at least a pair of pass-rushers you have to account for when they're on the field. Defensive tackle Henry Anderson is essentially the Jets' version of Lawrence Guy. Outside linebackers Neville Hewitt and Jordan Jenkins have combined for two sacks and four QB hits through two games.
At the center of it all is defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who runs an aggressive system with a variety of blitz packages.
"They run a pretty good amount of blitz-man and they add in quickly, so if the player blocks that the defender is covering, then he just adds in on the blitz," said Patriots head coach Bill Belichick on Wednesday. "So four or five becomes six, six can become seven in a hurry. They also have an overload blitz package, which compliments their single blitzers. But again, single blitzers often ends up looking like more than one blitzer because they get there so quickly on the add-in. So they have a good complimentary package and it'll be very challenging to not only our pass-protection and run-blocking schemes to get a hat on a hat, but also for the receivers to get open quickly and to make adjustments based on the leverage that they play those coverages with."
Belichick and Tom Brady will certainly be well-prepared for what Williams throws at them. But what could give the Jets more of an edge in this particular game is that they're going up against a banged-up offensive line. The Patriots will be without former starting left tackle Isaiah Wynn, who is on injured reserve. Right tackle Marcus Cannon could return, but he's still limited with a shoulder injury.
Does that mean we could see left guard Joe Thuney move to left tackle, where he played in the early stages of training camp?
"Whatever the team needs, I'm available," Thuney told reporters Wednesday. "Whatever's asked."
Did he take any snaps at left tackle in Wednesday's practice?
"I was just focused on my job and doing what I can to help the team."
No matter the alignment, the Patriots' offensive line depth is facing a serious test over the next several weeks as Wynn recovers from turf toe. The Jets have a potentially strong matchup going against newcomers Marshall Newhouse and/or Korey Cunningham at tackle, and of course keeping Brady upright for enough time to get rid of the ball is paramount in the Patriots' offense.
If the Jets can't take advantage of the Pats' limitations on the offensive line, they'll have little hope of even keeping the game competitive.
Matt Dolloff is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].