Jan. 16, 2011. Mark Sanchez’s playoff heroics was the last time the New York Jets won a game against the rival Patriots on the road.
Since that win, the Jets haven’t made the playoffs, the Patriots have won three Super Bowls and New York has shuffled quarterback after quarterback to try and find the key solution to their troubles against their all-time rival.
At 6-3, the Jets are off to one of the best starts of the season since their 2010 campaign. With improved play from quarterback Zach Wilson and a relentless defense, the time could be now for New York to end its decade-long struggle.
Of course, those thoughts were the same just three weeks ago when Wilson threw three bad interceptions in New England’s 22-17 win over New York at MetLife Stadium. Weeks removed from one of the worst games of his young career, the Jets coaching staff maintained that the loss was a teachable moment for their quarterback.
“He (Wilson) knew and we as an offense knew what we needed to get corrected. It wasn’t just him…It’s one thing to be aggressive, you have to be aggressive to score points in this league, it’s another thing to be careless with the football and that’s just something he learned there.” Offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur told reporters Thursday.
Part of a way for the Jets to not have a repeat on that October game is to play “their game” according to coach LaFleur.
It’s easier said than done when playing the Patriots though. Under Bill Belichick, New England has been known for taking away the strengths of their opposing team in a frustrating way that highlights the shortcomings of an offense.
That isn’t lost on the Jets coaching staff either.
“They’ve historically done a great job against young quarterbacks…they are extremely well coached, a lot gets said about Tom Brady and what they’ve done there with the offense, but to be able to win that amount of championships they have, it’s been team ball,” LaFleur said.
New York was held to their lowest rushing total of the season against New England in the first matchup. It was the first game following rookie Breece Hall’s ACL injury and directly impacted what the Jets wanted to do offensively.
Just 51 yards rushing on 15 carries won’t cut it though for a team that is trying to make the playoffs.
“It takes all 11 in the run game. It takes me calling the plays, it takes the scheme to be right to put guys in the right situation. When you play teams like New England, the scheme isn’t always going to be perfect because of everything they throw at you.” LaFleur explained.
In order for the Jets to end a decades-long curse against an arch-rival, the offense will need to produce far more than they did earlier in the season. It’s easier said than done when playing a team coached by a juggernaut in Bill Belichick, but if New York is to be considered a playoff-caliber team, Sunday’s game will be a key point in determining that.
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