Three things to watch for as Josh McCown and the Jets take on Tom Brady (probably) and the Patriots on Sunday (1 p.m., CBS).
Better than bad
How in the world do the Jets, who many were pegging for an 0-16 season a month and a half ago, have a winning record (3-2) in mid-October?
Well, it does help that the teams they’ve beaten (Browns, Jaguars, Dolphins) have a combined record of 5-9, but let’s give credit where credit is due. The Jets defense currently ranks a respectable 15th in the NFL in points allowed per game at 21.2 and is particularly good against the pass, allowing just 211.6 passing yards per game (12th in NFL).
The only top 15 QB they’ve faced all season, however, was Oakland’s Derek Carr in Week 2, and Carr completed 23-of-28 passes for three touchdowns, zero picks and a 136.6 passer rating in a 45-20 Raiders win. There’s no reason to think Tom Brady (or Jimmy Garoppolo) would struggle in this one. The Jets defense also allows 143 rushing yards per game (30th in NFL), so the Pats could have a breakout day out of the backfield as well.
McCown, not McClown
It’s easy to poke fun at the career at Josh McCown as he’s been mostly a career backup with stops at Arizona, Oakland, Carolina, Chicago, Tampa Bay, Cleveland and now the Jets. But McCown must be doing something right if he’s stuck around this long. The 38-year-old was a third round pick in the 2002 NFL Draft by the Cardinals and is the third longest tenured starting QB in the league this season, only behind Tom Brady and Drew Brees.
McCown has yet to have had any sort of five INT meltdown games for the Jets, as he’s thrown just four picks in five games.
The Jets will likely have McCown play a conservative game and will run the ball a ton. The Jets are 13th in the NFL in rushing this season, averaging 111.4 yards per game. Given what we saw Doug Martin do against the Pats last week, and what we saw Kareem Hunt do in Week 1 – it’s entirely possible that Bilal Powell and/or Matt Forte will have a big game.
Will Tom Brady play?
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady had an MRI on his left shoulder this week and was diagnosed with an AC Joint sprain. The question now is – will Brady miss any time from the injury, which originally occurred against the Panthers and was re-aggravated last Thursday against the Buccaneers?
Brady is 40-years-old and has never taken a beating like this in his football life. Brady has been sacked 16 times so far this season and has been under constant pressure, having to hold the football a bit longer without the underneath security blanket of Julian Edelman.
Aside from when Brady missed nearly the entire 2008 season due to an ACL and MCL tear in Week 1 against the Chiefs, he has been remarkably durable. During a time when almost all quarterback’s bodies break down (late 30s, early 40s), Brady has not missed a game he has been eligible to play in since that 2008 season.
He will not miss this Sunday’s game against the Jets either, and the Patriots and Brady fantasy football owners catch a bit of a break as the Jets’ defense is not exactly outstanding when it comes to rushing the quarterback. The Jets have registered just seven sacks this season, the second worst mark in the NFL.