WHEN THE PATRIOTS HAVE THE BALL
It’s probably not going to be pretty. The Jets will do what the Bills had some success doing – jamming receivers, blitzing and trying to disrupt timing. The Patriots are going to have to continue their metamorphosis to a potent, wear-you-down, run-first team, especially with the number of offensive players dinged. There will be no Shane Vereen, no Danny Amendola, probably no Rob Gronkowski. Zach Sudfeld has a bum hammy and Aaron Dobson is trying to come back from his own hamstring issue. The only skill position players who haven’t popped up on the injury report are Kenbrell Thompkins and LeGarrette Blount (Ridley has a shoulder injury and Leon Washington has a leg injury). So what, then, is the Patriots’ strength? Running the ball. And that’s what the Jets did well against in their season opener against Tampa, holding Doug Martin to 2.7 yards per carry on 24 attempts. The Jets’ 3-4 front is young – rookie end Sheldon Richardson, third-year nose tackle Kenrick Ellis (along with second-year nose Damon Harrison) and third-year end Muhammad Wilkerson. The Jets held Tampa to 250 yards of offense, forced seven punts, two fumbles and came up with a pick. Demario Davis, David Harris, Calvin Pace, Garrett McIntyre and Antwan Barnes are the key linebackers. The secondary has rookie Dee Milliner and Antonio Cromartie at the corners, Dawan Landry and Antonio Allen at the safeties. The Patriots will need to make some plays downfield and on the perimeter to get the Jets to back off and cover sideline-to-sideline. Expect New England to keep working the tear screen game to Julian Edelman and – if Dobson is good to go – take advantage of his size on the perimeter. Dobson will have to play with some intensity because the Jets’ corners will try to knock him around.