How the Jets Can Improve Against AFC East Opponents
This former Jets scout predicts how New York can perform better against the Bills, Patriots and Dolphins this year
There is a lot of hype surrounding the team Jets’ General Manager Joe Douglas has built.
However, there is a stark reality that stands in harsh contrast to the hype.
New York is 2-16 vs. their division within the AFC East since 2019 when Douglas took over.
The Jets must find a way to win in their own division if they have hopes of posting a winning record.
In 2021, there were statistical tell tale signs in each of the series the Jets played against their divisional rivals.
I looked for patterns that stood out equally in both games combined, and identified preliminary game-planning keys against each opponent for the upcoming season.
Buffalo Bills vs. New York Jets
Combined Score of two meetings in 2021: Bills 72 - Jets 27
New York has lost four straight and five of the last six against the defending AFC East Champions since 2019.
The first thing that stood out last season was New York was only 4-27 converting on 3rd downs.
Meanwhile, Buffalo’s offense absolutely exploded for 913 yards against New York’s porous defense.
The Bills churned out two 100-plus rushing yard performances as well (139 and 170).
New York’s offense only saw the red zone twice in the series.
Jets keys to victory against the Bills in 2022:
New York needs to sustain drives on offense that end in points. On defense, coordinator Jeff Ulbrich must throw caution to the wind and blitz Bills quarterback Josh Allen. Two sacks in two contests like the Jets had last season isn’t going to cut it against the high-flying Bills.
New England Patriots vs. New York Jets
Combined Score of two meetings in 2021: Patriots 79 - Jets 19
The Patriots have had the Jets number, beating them 12 straight times dating back to 2015.
Turnovers killed New York last year.
The Jets turned the ball over seven times and got zero turnovers to their credit.
It’s hard to win with that kind of turnover ratio, let alone against Bill Belichick.
Allowing two 100-plus yard games on the ground didn’t help either.
Jets keys to victory against the Patriots in 2022:
New York needs to find a way to eliminate turnovers on offense by going to a ultra conservative, high percentage offensive attack. Belichick preys on the impatience of opposing offenses. On defense, the Jets need to focus on suffocating the run game and forcing Patriots QB Mac Jones to throw into the jaws of their improved pass defense to try to beat them.
Miami Dolphins vs. New York Jets
Combined Score of two meetings in 2021: Dolphins 55 - Jets 41
Out of the three divisional foes last season, the Jets hung in there best against the Dolphins. Despite the Jets dropping both matchups, the point margin was actually within reason.
It hasn’t been tough sledding against the Dolphins. New York has dropped 10 out of the last 12 against Miami dating back to 2016.
The last time New York managed to win one was in 2019, 22-21.
The first thing that jumps out last season is how Miami dominated the time of possession. In the first contest, Miami held onto the ball for 33:25 vs. New York’s 26:25. In the second game, it was more of the same with the Dolphins grinding it out for 34:22 to the Jets’ 25:38.
The Dolphins were able to control the clock due to their commitment to the run game. Miami pounded the ball down New York’s throat in the series, rushing 75 times.
Miami additionally pushed the ball downfield through the air more aggressively than New York did.
This showed up in the total passing yards as well as in the average passing-yards-per-play category. In the two games combined, Miami threw for 469 yards and New York mustered up 404.
Miami averaged 7.5 yards-per-pass-play and New York averaged 5.5.
New York sacking Miami QB Tua Tagovailoa one time in two games didn’t help.
Jets keys to victory against the Dolphins in 2022:
New York must get physical and commit to to running the ball 38-plus times in both matchups. Getting out rushed 75 attempts to 42 isn’t adding up. In passing situations, New York needs to go to max-protection schemes, because getting their QB sacked eight times like they did in 2021 isn’t going to cut it. On defense, the Jets need to focus on stopping the run, manning up on their receivers, and blitzing the daylights out of Tagovailoa.
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