The New England Patriots will host the New York Jets for the second of two meetings between the two divisional rivals on Sunday at Gillette Stadium. The Pats and Jets last met on September 19 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Patriots defeated the Jets 25-6 in their Week Two matchup.
Though many Patriots players are expected to garner some attention during Sunday’s matchup, here are three players on defense that might raise an eyebrow when the Pats take the field against the Jets.
With the news of Jonathan Jones being placed on injured reserve, the Patriots find themselves quite thin at cornerback. Though J.C. Jackson and Jalen Mills will once again draw starting duties on the outside, the slot (a role in which Jones is quite proficient) may be more problematic to fill. Earlier this week, the team promoted Bryant to the active roster. With rookie cornerback Shaun Wade continuing to recover from a concussion, as well as the palpable struggles of reserve corner Joejuan Williams, the Pats will look to the 23-year-old for assistance. The hard-hitting defensive back has continuously played a versatile role with New England. He has taken snaps at free safety, strong safety, slot cornerback and perimeter cornerback. He has even taken limited snaps on the defensive line. With the Pats expected to heavily employ multiple defensive backs against some of the league’s top quarterbacks in the coming weeks, Bryant should provide some versatility to the Patriots defensive backfield, seeing the majority of his snaps in the slot.
Interior, Defensive Line
Though he has yet to be officially declared ‘out’ for Sunday’s matchup, Davon Godchaux is unlikely to play in Week Seven against the Jets, having missed multiple practices this week with a finger injury. Godchaux’s potential absence on Sunday raises some would-be problems for New England’s run defense. He, along with fellow defensive tackles Lawrence Guy and rookie Christian Barmore have formed quite the formidable trio in the middle of the Patriots’ defensive front. If the veteran nose tackle is unable to play on Sunday, Carl Davis is the likely choice to get the start. In six games with the Pats in 2021, Davis has compiled five solo tackles, one quarterback hit and one sack. The 6-foot-5, 320-pound Iowa product continues to prove his value within the system as a two-gapping interior defensive lineman. Traditionally, New England has had difficulty defending the outside zone. Davis’s ability to hold up inside against a double team allows for the Pats’ defensive ends and edge rushers to flow freely to the ball. Despite the numerous upgrades that the team has made along the defensive line, Davis is making a strong case for a place on the Patriots roster, and should continue to do so against the Eagles on Thursday evening. Along with Davis, look for Christian Barmore to take on a more prominent role. Barmore took 51 defensive snaps in Week Six, showcasing his ability to push the pocket and take a power stance against the run. Barmore registered one quarterback-hit and a tackle-for-loss against Dallas potent offense.
Having listed five linebackers on Friday’s injury report [Dont’a Hightower (ankle/elbow), Ja’Whaun Bentley (ribs), Josh Uche (shoulder), Kyle Van Noy (groin) and Brandon King (thigh)] Judon will likely have the distinction of being the team’s only healthy option at the position in Week Seven. Judon has proven that he has both the versatility and adaptability to be the team’s number one player on the edge. Through three games, the linebacker has amassed 16 solo tackles, 12 quarterback hits and 6.5 sacks. His career-high is 9.5 sacks, which he earned in 2019 when he played for the Baltimore Ravens. He is well beyond pace to eclipse that total. Most importantly, Judon’s presence allows the Pats front seven to play in position, facilitating their ability to set the edge, and stop the run. He has been quite adept at keeping runs from reaching the corner on early downs, as well as providing speed and strength when rushing the quarterback. Against the Jets this week, look for him to assist his teammates in creating favorable matchups from off-the-ball snaps. This will allow him to put pressure on Jets’ quarterback Zach Wilson, while maintaining the flexibility to defend New York’s rushing attack on designated runs.