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How Can the Jets Defense Rebound Against the Patriots in Week 3?

Green & White Defense Sacked Mac Jones 12 Times in 2022 Season

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Throughout the offseason, reporters Eric Allen, Ethan Greenberg, Randy Lange, Caroline Hendershot and John Pullano will give their responses to a series of questions regarding this year's Jets.

Today's question: How can the Jets defense rebound against the Patriots in Week 3?

EA: The Jets defense wasn't bad last week — they just didn't play up to their standard in the loss to the Cowboys. They held the 'Boys to 3.0 yards per carry on 44 attempts. The D had a strong performance in the red zone, holding Dallas to 2-of-6 inside the 20. Even with Dak Prescott completing 31 of 38 passes, the 'Boys averaged 4.6 yards per play (the Jets averaged 4.7 yards a play). The problem was third down as the 'Boys converted 7-of-10 to start the game and finished 8-of-16. They need improvement on third down and nickel CB Michael Carter II stressed better communication. They also must make plays when they're there — this is a team that had 4 takeaways in the Week 1 win over the Bills. Against Dallas, the Jets were inches away from taking the lead in the second quarter on a Sauce Gardner PD/near pick-6 and Gardner had a FF in the first quarter that somehow was recovered by C Tyler Biadasz in a sea of green. The Patriots have the potential to be a solid offensive unit, but they've had issues up front and they're 27th in rushing (82.0 yds/g) and 28th in yards per play (4.50). The Jets sacked Mac Jones 12 times last season plus rain/wind is in the forecast. One of the league's finest defenses will be just fine against the Pats.

EG: Robert Saleh has always said the Jets go as the defensive line goes. After tallying only one sack last week against the Cowboys, I expect the Jets pass rush to try and set the tone much like last season (12 sacks in two games vs. NE) but keep an eye on how the defense does against the run. The Green & White has not allowed a rushing touchdown through two games this season and New England's offense, led by QB Mac Jones, haven't been able to establish the run. Rhamondre Stevenson leads the Pats with 75 rushing yards and Ezekiel Elliott, signed this offseason, has 42. With rain in the forecast for Sunday's game, stopping the run and putting the ball into Jones' hands could be an underrated part of the recipe to snap the 14-game losing streak. Jones leads the NFL in completions (66) and attempts (96) but ranks No. 29 in yards per attempt (5.7). The Patriots don't have as talented a receiving corps as the Bills or Cowboys. This is a favorable matchup for the Jets secondary.

RL: It's all about the pass for me. Quinnen Williams, Carl Lawson & Co. need to keep the pressure on Mac Jones in the Patriots pocket. Eight different defenders sacked Jones 12 times last season and the Jets played two close games (both losses, but still) as a result. However, consider that even under the gun at Gillette last season, Jones in 16 consecutive dropbacks was sacked 4 times but completed all 12 passes on his other dropbacks for 164 yards. So that brings up the back-end half of this defensive equation. No more dropped pick-sixes, a la Sauce Gardner at Dallas. And no more roughing the QB. John Franklin-Myers' rough of Jones last year cost the Jets Michael Carter's 84-yard INT-return TD that would've put the Jets up 17-3. Last week, JFM was called for roughing Dak Prescott, although the NFL reportedly told the Jets his hit on Dak was clean and shouldn't have been flagged. But damage done as Dallas continued on not to a field goal but to its second TD. Maintain the pressure up front, decrease the mistakes that wipe out big takeaways, and the third-down conversions and field position will take care of themselves.

CH: Get to the quarterback. Last week against Dallas, the Jets defense only had 1 sack and 4 QB hits. There needs to be more pressure on the quarterback to disrupt him. Last season against the Patriots, the Jets defense sacked Mac Jones a combined 12 times over two games and limited Jones to one pass TD. That's what this group needs to do again Sunday. It also comes down to eliminating both the little mistakes and flags the Jets defense had last week. Sauce Gardner had the near interception and Brandon Echols was called for pass interference in the end zone. If the defense can clean up some of these small mistakes and get the defensive line back to their typical dominance, I think the Jets will be prepared against the Patriots.

JP: To reiterate what Jets nickel CB Michael Carter II said, the defense will need to be better on third down for the unit to rebound Sunday against New England. The Cowboys' offense converted 50% (9-of-18) on third down in their Week 2 victory, 30-10, over the Jets. "On third down either the ball was out quick, and we aren't aware of the sticks or just aren't conscious of the sticks," Carter II said. Carter II added they need to communicate better to have a chance in Week 3. In addition to enhanced communication in the back end, the Jets need to take advantage of Patriots' recent struggles to protect the passer. Against Miami in Week 2, the Dolphins sacked QB Mac Jones 4 times. The Jets had success against the Patriots last season with 12 sacks over the two matchups. The Patriots plan to start RT Calvin Anderson, who struggled against Miami with 44.6 PFF grade, and LG Cole Strange, who was benched in the Jets-Patriots' first matchup last season after All-Pro DT Quinnen Williams had 1 sack, 1 TFL and drew 2 holding calls in the game. Improved communication in the secondary paired with a ferocious pass rush could be the formula for the Jets' defense to put last week's loss behind them.

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