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What Is the Jets' Recipe to Take Down Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs?

Kansas City Has High-Powered Offense That Features Mahomes, TE Travis Kelce


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: To beat the Chiefs, takeaways are necessary and a score on defense/special teams would be a bonus. The Lions offense scored just 14 points against the Chiefs in their Week 1 victory, but they won because TE Travis Kelce and DL Chirs Jones were out of the lineup and S Brian Branch had a 50-yard pick-6. KC won a tight battle at Jacksonville in Week 2, but the Jags gave themselves a chance with an INT of Mahomes plus two fumble recoveries. The Chiefs will move the ball, but the Jets will have to tighten up in the red zone because the Chiefs own a 75% TD conversion rate inside the 20 and the Jets' D counters at a stingy 37.5%. The best defense is keeping Mahomes off the field and the Jets need success on third down. This offense needs positive plays on first and second downs, so Zach Wilson and OC Nathaniel Hackett can operate in manageable third-down situations. The Jets also need to create explosive plays and Breece Hall and Garrett Wilson make that possible every week. And finally, give the crowd a chance in the second half. MetLife Stadium will be electric, but the Jets faced double-digit deficits in each of their three games.

EG: For starters, the Jets will need to play a clean game. Zach Wilson didn't turn the ball over last week against the Patriots. On Sunday, the offense needs to continue to move the chains. The Jets had six threes-and-out in Week 3. As good as the Green & White defense is, the best way to beat the Chiefs is to have the two-time Super Bowl and NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes on the sideline. Kansas City has a high-powered offense that ranks No. 5 in the NFL in total yards (390.3 yds/g). Since Mahomes took over as starter in 2018, the Chiefs are the only team in the NFL that average over 400 yards per game from 2018-23. They also lead the NFL in that span in third-down conversions (48.9%) and points per game (29.9). The Jets rushing attack needs to find its footing and alleviate pressure on Wilson. Each of last two games the Jets have been inches from potentially scoring a touchdown on defense, which would be a big help to taking down the defending Super Bowl champ like in Week 1 when the Lions beat the Chiefs. If that doesn't happen, the Jets need to play their brand of football. Pressure the QB (Mahomes has been pressured on a career-low 25.4% of his dropbacks this season), play sticky coverage and run the ball.

RL: It won't be easy, needless to say. Mahomes, if not the most jaw-dropping QB in the NFL through the first three weeks, is still devastating whether passing the ball behind impeccable protection or running with it, whether by design or necessity. With the WR corps having been rebuilt post-Tyreek Hill, the answer to the Chiefs offense as always is stopping Mahomes to TE Travis Kelce ... if you can. S Jordan Whitehead, one of the Jets tasked with keeping tabs on tights, is off to a hot start with those three opening-night INTs. Yet in the last two games, the Jets' pass defense has yielded three TE touchdowns. And as LB Quincy Williams describes the task at hand: "We know for a fact they're going to try and find Kelce. Don't give up on the play." Especially in the red zone, where both the Chiefs offense (tied for third in the NFL in red zone TD rate) and Jets defense (tied for fifth in opponents' RZ TDs). That's where Kelce has sparkled, with his 32 red zone TDs since 2019 leading the NFL's tight ends. And inside the Jets 20 is where this Sunday night battle may well be won and lost.

CH: I think this goes back to the same mentality when the Jets faced the Buffalo Bills in Week 1. You may not get to the QB with your first move, but it's how you counter and still create pressure. Mahomes is a magician who is extremely mobile and can alter his plays on the fly. The best way to slow him down is the one-two punch of adding pressuring, but also getting turnovers. While the Jets DL Quinnen Williams had a high of 7 QB pressures last game against Mac Jones, the Jets defensive line was not able to bring him down for a sack. The last two games the Jets haven't gotten any interception either after Jordan Whitehead's three-interception game in Week 1. While the Chiefs have a lot of offensive weapons in Isiah Pacheco, Travis Kelce, and Justin Watson the best way to limit their play-making abilities is by forcing Mahomes to get rid of the ball faster than he would like or to throw it haphazardly. I know it's a tall task going up the reigning Super Bowl champion, but if anyone is ready to prove themselves it's the Jets defense. 

JP: With Patrick Mahomes as starter, the Chiefs have a 66-17 regular-season record and an 11-3 record in the postseason. It is not a secret that the Jets defense will have its hands full. The Jets may have the pass rush to limit the two-time MVP. In Mahomes' few career losses, opponents average 2.1 sacks per game in comparison to 1.1 sacks per game in wins. This season the Chiefs O-Line has surrendered 1 sack and Mahomes has been pressured on a career-low 25.4% of his drop backs. The Jets defensive line, which returned All-Pro Quinnen Williams and a majority of their starters, was No. 7 in sacks last season (45) and Williams a week ago against the Patriots created a career-high 7 pressures. The Jets will need to collapse the pocket against Mahomes to have a chance. In addition, because of Mahomes' ability to create off-schedule, LB Quincy Williams said the Jets defense will need to stay persistent in coverage: "Do right longer. You can't have a mental clock in your head that thinks the ball should be out or he should be sacked by now." The Jets All-Pro CB Sauce Gardner and D.J. Reed will be up for the challenge.

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