On the Beat: 5 questions about the Jets

We check in with our New York Times cousin Ben Shpigel to get the lowdown on the rival Jets.

1. All right, I’ve avoid thinking about this for long enough … Lot of Tebow on Sunday or just a little?

BS: “Depends on how you define ‘a lot.’ More than half the Jets’ offensive plays? I’d say no. But with injuries to Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight compromising their depth at running back — and eliminating their speed at the position — I could see Tebow getting more of an opportunity to run from the shotgun, especially if the score is close.”


2. Who is the one Jets player most Patriots fans don’t know right now, but will by the end of the game on Sunday?

BS: “A two-way tie. The rookie receiver Stephen Hill, the Jets’ second-round pick out of Georgia Tech, is tall and fast (but raw, very raw) and could create problems against the Patriots’ secondary if the Jets are able to stretch the field and utilize the play-action. And the rookie defensive lineman Quinton Coples, who had two sacks against the Colts but, if he’s a non-factor Sunday, could be mentioned as the player the Jets drafted instead of Chandler Jones.”

3. What’s the biggest weakness on the Jets’ offense you expect the Patriots to try to exploit?

BS: “The Jets were thrilled with their execution as much as their performance against Indianapolis, when they ran for 252 yards. Their offensive line, with a boost from tight ends Dustin Keller and Jeff Cumberland, played very well, on the whole. But was it a sign of progress or merely an aberration? Until the Jets rush the ball well consistently against a strong defense, that element must be considered a weakness, and the Patriots, I’m sure, will try to exploit it.”


4. What’s the biggest weakness on the Jets’ defense you expect the Patriots to try to exploit?

BS: “The middle of the field. If the coverage dictates, I’d think Tom Brady will take his shots between the numbers to Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski, and to Danny Woodhead out of the backfield. And I’d think the Patriots would feel good if Stevan Ridley and Woodhead can get past the line of scrimmage and to the Jets’ inside linebackers, David Harris and Bart Scott, who have loads of missed tackles this season and have been largely inconsistent, if not ineffective, against the run.”

5. Finally, Jets win on Sunday if …

BS: “It’s not just one thing. It never is. They have to counter the Patriots’ up-tempo offense, avoiding the sort of mismatches and staggered substitution patterns that New England wants to create. They have to get a great game out of Antonio Cromartie, who could be a factor in all three phases, and from safeties Yeremiah Bell and LaRon Landry, who’ll be essential in helping to stop the run and trying to erase Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski. And Mark Sanchez has to play if not a perfect game, then pretty close to it. The Jets can’t afford to give the ball back to Tom Brady.”

Thanks to Ben for his time. Make sure you check him out on Twitter, and the Times’ Jets coverage.

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