By Alex Barth, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Jets came into the season with very few talented players on their roster. Of those they did have, they shipped a handful out in trades over the last three months. Meanwhile, others have gotten hurt.
Who’s left for the Patriots to deal with? Let’s take a look at what New England needs to do to neutralize the Jets’ remaining talent in this week’s key matchups.
When New England has the ball: Joe Thuney vs. Quinnen Williams
When the Jets held their firesale before the trade deadline, there was one player widely considered untouchable – defensive lineman Quinnen Williams. The third-overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, Williams has proven to be a difference maker from the interior of the defensive line.
If the Patriots want to establish the run on Monday night, they’ll need to move Williams off his spot. That job will mainly fall to Joe Thuney, as Williams is often lined up off the inside shoulder of the left guard.
Williams is a rare breed of defensive tackle who can also make an impact in the passing game. The Alabama product has three sacks and five QB hits in eight games so far. This game is a great chance for the Patriots offense to build on last week’s performance and pick up momentum, and Williams is the one player who can stop that from happening if New England lets him.
UPDATE: Quinnen Williams is reportedly doubtful for Monday’s game. The Patriots offense has every reason in the world to break out in a big way, especially if he doesn’t play.
When New York has the ball: Patriots edge vs Mekhi Becton
Much like Williams is the Jets’ only saving grace on the defensive side of the ball, rookie left tackle Mekhi Becton is just about all New York has going for them on the offensive side. The 2020 11th overall pick has missed some time this season, but has proven to be effective when on the field.
“He’s impressive. He’s got tremendous size, good feet, moves well,” Bill Belichick said about Becton on Friday. “He’s got some devastating blocks. Very talented player – you see him getting better every week, but he’s got pretty special ability.”
It’s hard to give an individual matchup for Becton given how the Patriots have rotated their edge rushers this year. Ideally, he’d be going up against Chase Winovich, but at this point who knows how much he’ll play, if at all. Expect to see John Simon, Deatrich Wise, and Tashawn Bower to each get a shot at Becton. Can the Patriots gain the upper hand on the Jets’ one offensive advantage? If so, things could get ugly.
Bonus: Jake Bailey vs. Braden Mann
Let’s say the Patriots offense is stagnant once again, and this turns into a close game. If that’s the case it’ll turn into a field position battle. If that happens, the Patriots have a major upper hand.
Jake Bailey has been one of the best punters in football this season. He’s second in the league in net average (45 yards per punt) and didn’t record a touchback until last week.
Meanwhile, rookie Braden Mann has been one of the worst since being taken by the Jets in the sixth round of this year’s draft. The Texas A&M product is 26th in the league in net average, with the fourth-most touchbacks.
If it comes down to the punters, the Patriots will have better field position throughout the night.
For more on the game, check out this week’s Patriots Preview Podcast:
Alex Barth 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. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at Alexander.Barth@bbgi.com.