After dominating the AFC East division without any competition for four years now, the New England Patriots finally have a legitimate competitor in the New York Jets. Coming into this season, many, including myself, expected the Buffalo Bills to be a serious threat to the Patriots because of Rex Ryan’s defensive mind and the depth they have on the defensive side of the ball. As it turns out, Rex has seemingly lost control after the week two loss to the Patriots, and things are starting to unfold because of his reckless demeanor. The Dolphins simply just spent money carelessly in the offseason, leaving them extremely thin in many parts of their roster. The Jets however, shipped out the rambunctious Rex Ryan and brought in another defensive mind with former Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. This time, the head coach is much more soft spoken, but he looks to have a strangle hold on the team and has one thing that Ryan never had in New York, control.
Despite their 4-12 record last season, the Jets still had a very talented defensive front that could get after the quarterback. The front seven consists of elite players such as Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, David Harris, Calvin Pace, and they also added defensive tackle Leonard Williams out of Southern California in the first round of this year’s draft. Many projected him as the best overall player in the draft. The Jets secondary did a complete 180 in the offseason by going from having one of the league’s worst pass defenses to having potentially the best. When you bring back Darrelle Revis who is arguably the best cornerback of all time and without a doubt the best right now, your defense already changes completely for the better. Then you add a big bodied corner with Antonio Cromartie who can match up with tight ends, and Buster Skrine as a nickel back next to Revis, your secondary becomes lock down.
On the other side of the ball, the Jets have added fire power as well. They acquired Brandon Marshall from Chicago via trade this offseason to compliment Eric Decker. The combination has been very effective through five games. Marshall already has 37 receptions, for 511 yards, and four touchdowns. In addition, Chris Ivory is a very physical running back who has also gotten off to a great start averaging 5.5 yards per carry. The only glaring issues on the Jets roster is the most important in the game, and that is at quarterback. Ryan Fitzpatrick is one of the most inconsistent quarterbacks we have seen in a long time.
He played so well for a few weeks in Buffalo they rewarded him with a contract extension. After that he played so bad they were forced to release him after one year. He has not been terrible this year, however Bills fans will tell you that a collapse is on the horizon. Jets fans are just crossing their fingers that their defense can carry them to the point where Fitzpatrick can’t lose them the game.
This week, the New England Patriots have to take on the 4-1 New York Jets at the friendly confines of Gillette Stadium. It will without question be their toughest test up to this point, especially if Marcus Cannon and Ryan Wendell are not able to go. As a Patriots fan you should feel very uneasy about rolling out Cameron Fleming at right tackle going up against this Jets front. Not only can the front get to Brady, but Revis and Cromartie can neutralize Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski and force Brady to hold onto the football longer.
Now, one thing that puts both teams at a disadvantage is that both coaches are unfamiliar with each other. The last time Bowles squared off with the Patriots was in week two of the 2012 season when his Cardinals beat the Patriots 20-18, with the defense sacking Brady four times. I have full confidence that Bill Belichick, Josh McDaniels and the Patriots coaching staff will put together a masterful game plan to move the ball against the Jets defense and hold their offense in tact. Nevertheless, Patriots fans need to know that the Jets are a threat in the division, not the laughing stock that we are used to. That could very well help the Patriots come January as they will be battle tested.