3 Matchups to Watch

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3 Matchups to Watch: Jets vs. Broncos

Gregg Williams’ Defense Takes on Brett Rypien; Mekhi Becton Could Line Up vs. Bradley Chubb 

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Jets Defense vs. Broncos QB Brett Rypien
The Broncos will use their third QB of the season on Thursday night when Brett Rypien makes his first NFL start. Rypien, the nephew of former NFL QB Mark Rypien (1986-2002), takes over an offense that ranks No. 29 (289.3 yds/g) in the NFL and No. 30 in scoring (15 pts/g). He played one series in Denver's Week 3 loss to Tampa Bay, completing 8 of 9 pass attempts for 53 yards and an interception.

"The thing we took out of watching him play in that last ballgame is his understanding of more than just his position and that's what good quarterbacks do," Jets' defensive coordinator Gregg Williams said. "Good quarterbacks understand the scope and sequence of what everybody does. He was able to change protections quite a bit this last game. He only played 15 plays in this last ballgame, but we've also dissected all 91 snaps from last year in the preseason, too."

Rypien will be protected by an offensive line that, according to ESPN, ranks last in the league in both pass and run block win rate at 36% and 63%. The unit has allowed 13 sacks in its last two games and lost starting RT Elijah Wilkinson (leg) to injured reserve earlier this week. The Jets, however, had only 1 QB hit last week and opposing QBs have completed 75.5% of their passes against the Jets' defense.

"When we do blitz, we need to make sure we get there," said LB Avery Williamson, who had 9 tackles against the Colts. "Hit the right gaps, make sure we have good contain and don't give any escape lanes. That's the thing, condensing the pocket. When we blitz, make sure we're doing a good job of condensing the pocket and just try to startle [Rypien] as much as possible."

Williamson added: "That can change the game. It could be a sack-fumble, disrupting him in the pocket and forcing a bad throw, causing interceptions. It's always huge getting pressure on the quarterback. Whether we get pressure on the edge or up the middle, we have to get it some kind of way."

Jets OL vs. Broncos DL
The Broncos defensive line was projected to be one of the NFL's better units with eight-time Pro Bowler Von Miller; five-time Pro Bowler DL Jurrell Casey, whom they traded for in the offseason; and Bradley Chubb, who had 12 sacks as a rookie in 2018. Chubb is healthy, but Denver has lost both Miller (ankle) and Casey (biceps) for the season. 

"Shelby Harris and Bradley Chubb, inside and outside, is a pretty good duo," NFL Network's Brain Baldinger said. "In a number of occasions, [Tom] Brady couldn't step up because of the pressure from Harris. He had two sacks in the game. … One thing I know about [Broncos Head Coach] Vic Fangio's defense's whether he was leading the league in takeaways in San Francisco or Chicago, they're a front-four-based defense. They don't blitz a lot. I know Jurrell Casey is out, but Mike Purcell is a really good football player. He's hard to move at defensive tackle and you still have to defeat that four in order to have success."

If starting LT Mekhi Becton (shoulder) and RT George Fant (concussion), who missed the game at Indianapolis, play, the Jets could take advantage of a banged-up Broncos front. Head Coach Adam Gase said that the injuries sustained by both players are trending in the right direction for Thursday's game.

Jets Secondary vs. Broncos Young WRs
The Broncos lost their best WR Courtland Sutton (ACL), who had 1,112 receiving yards and 6 TDs in 2019. Instead, they'll turn to their young wideouts General Manager John Elway drafted with his first- and second-round picks this year -- Alabama's Jerry Jeudy at No. 15 and Penn State's K.J. Hamler at No. 46. Denver also has a young tight end in Noah Fant (6-4, 249), who had 562 yards and 3 TDs on 40 receptions as a rookie last season.

"He's an excellent route runner and he's good after the catch," Baldinger said of Jeudy. "He was at Alabama and he has been good so far as a pro. [Hamler] isn't a big guy. He's 5-8 but runs in the 4.3s and has excellent speed. Go back and watch his game against Michigan last year, he just dominated the Wolverines (6 rec, 108 yards, 2 TDs). You can't sleep on Tim Patrick. He's got range, he's got size (6-4, 212) and he can run."

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