By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Jets got off to a rough start before settling down in Week 3 against the Patriots, and that was on the road while severely shorthanded. Now, the Jets are at home with serious reinforcements back in the lineup.
Next Monday when the Jets take on the Patriots at MetLife Stadium, they likely need a standout defensive night in order to score the upset win. Central to that goal will be rookie defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, who missed the last game against the Pats with an ankle injury. The third overall pick in the 2019 draft has made an immediate impact, playing 51 snaps in each of the last two games and making 11 total tackles.
On Sunday against the Cowboys, Williams helped blow up consecutive plays on third and fourth down to turn the ball over to the Jets late in the second quarter. On the next play, Sam Darnold hit receiver Robby Anderson for a 92-yard touchdown.
Now Williams gets the Patriots' offensive line that surrendered a sack and four QB hits in Foxborough.
"He’s big, athletic, hard to block," said Bill Belichick when asked about Williams on Thursday. "He made a big play [last week] on Prescott in the fourth-and-two play – came all the way from the other side of the ball and made the play on the quarterback sweep. So, he’s a good football player."
Williams is immensely talented, and just an immensely large and frightening individual. But an even bigger addition to the Jets defense is former Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley, a four-time second team All-Pro who patrols the middle of the field. Mosley last played Week 1 against the Bills, racking up six tackles, a fumble recovery, two pass breakups, and an interception returned 17 yards for a touchdown.
Mosley will be key to limiting the Patriots in the run game and disrupting short pass plays over the middle. He may need to help at times with Julian Edelman, who has burned the Jets for 16 catches, 215 yards, and three touchdowns in his last three games against them.
Adding two high-end talents to the arsenal could mean trouble for the Patriots up front, and a more disruptive unit for Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.
"Coach Williams is a good game planning coach, so he’ll do things differently from week-to-week based on what the offense is doing and how he matches up with them and so-forth," said Belichick. "But, it’s not like it’s a new defense every week. They change it up, and certainly getting [Quinnen] Williams back has helped and [C.J.] Mosley, if he’s back, he’s one of the best linebackers in the league. So, I mean, getting those kind of players back would help any defense."
Add Mosley and Quinnen Williams to the Jets' already formidable safety tandem of Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye. Adams forced Tom Brady back into the game in Week 3 after a pick-six against Jarrett Stidham that made it a two-possession game. The Pats won 30-14 anyway, but Adams isn't a guy who takes plays off. He's coming off a win in which he made eight tackles (one for a loss) and a pass breakup.
The way this Patriots season has gone so far, all the biggest questions come on the offensive side of the football. There's plenty of reason to be confident that the defense can get the job done, even with Darnold under center now. But the offense is not without question marks. We've already seen how it could perform on the road against a defense with talent at all three levels. The question is how much they've improved in the three weeks since scoring just nine points on offense at Buffalo. It's looked good against the Redskins and Giants, but the Jets should present at least a marginally bigger challenge.
"We just want to continue to improve each and every week," said James White on Thursday. "We want to continue to get better and better. You don’t win anything in this league with six wins, so we’re going to try to improve as an offense, defense, special teams, complement them, and continue to progress and improve our performance every week."
After Sunday's upset win over the Cowboys, the Jets are allowing 18.2 points per game defensively. They're seventh in the NFL with 1,790 total yards allowed and eighth in opposing passer rating with 85.6. They're only 16th in Football Outsiders' DVOA stat on defense, where the Pats rank first by a wide margin. But they've been playing without key weapons.
On Monday they get mostly a full deck, and a home game against a team they've traditionally played tough on their own field. The Patriots' offensive improvement will need to be noticeable in order to win comfortably. Otherwise, get ready to feel uncomfortable.
Matt Dolloff is a 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].