Salem Radio Network News Thursday, November 26, 2020

Sports

Belichick talks up winless Jets ahead of Monday matchup

The New England Patriots have won eight consecutive meetings against the New York Jets, many of them by lopsided margins.

The Jets have lost all eight of their games this season, many by lopsided margins.

Unless New York suddenly figures out how to start putting points on the board, both trends are likely to continue when the Patriots (2-5) visit the Jets for an AFC East contest on Monday night in East Rutherford, N.J.

New York has mustered a league-low 94 points this season, 39 fewer than the next-closest team (Washington, which has played one fewer game). The Jets have only scored two touchdowns in their past four contests. Embattled coach Adam Gase’s squad ranks last in total offense (259 yards per game), last in passing (155.9 yards per game) and last in third-down conversions (28.3 percent).

The Patriots haven’t won a game since Week 3, dropping four in a row, and they have taken a back seat to the Buffalo Bills in the division race. However, Bill Belichick’s gang still ranks 12th in scoring defense (23.9 points per game) and 14th in total defense (357.3 yards per game). That’s plenty good enough to stifle the Jets, who have scored more than 17 points only once and gained more than 300 yards only once.

Belichick sounded cautious this week, however. Perhaps remembering two losses to the Dolphins when Gase coached there, including the 2018 “Miami Miracle,” he made a somewhat surprising observation.

“They’re a lot better than they were last year,” he said. “I think they have played very competitively. The offense is improved. They get a little bit better each week. …

“It’s a scrappy, hard-nosed team, and Coach Gase is always a great game plan coach every week. He presents a lot of problems every week for the defense schematically.”

Last year, New England swept New York by a combined 63-14 margin as Belichick improved to 30-10 in the rivalry. That record includes a 29-7 mark with Tom Brady. The post-Brady Patriots have lost four consecutive games for the first time since 2002. New England hasn’t lost five in a row since 1995.

The Jets’ best hope for a primetime breakthrough on Monday might be the erratic play of Patriots quarterback Cam Newton. The former MVP has eight turnovers (seven interceptions, one lost fumble) and just two touchdown passes.

Newton has also rushed for a team-high 298 yards and six touchdowns this season, numbers that concern Gase.

“The run game with him being able to do all the zone-read stuff, this is difficult when you see a guy this size moving at the speed he does,” Gase said. “Our guys have to do a really good job of following the rules we’re going by on the zone-read stuff because the last thing you want to do is give a guy like this that kind of hole.”

Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (shoulder) did not practice Thursday but Gase said he felt “good” about Darnold playing Monday. Also missing practice were defensive linemen Nathan Shepherd (back) and Quinnen Williams (hamstring), wide receiver Jamison Crowder (groin) and linebacker Blake Cashman (hamstrings).

Cornerback Stephon Gilmore, the 2019 Defensive Player of the Year, did not practice for the Patriots on Thursday due to a knee injury. Also absent were defensive tackles Carl Davis (concussion) and Lawrence Guy (shoulder, elbow and knee), running back J.J. Taylor (illness) and wideout N’Keal Harry (concussion).

–Field Level Media

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