FOXBORO, Mass. — Bill Belichick expects a much more competitive New York Jets team this Sunday than the one his New England Patriots defeated back in Week 12.
During his Wednesday morning news conference, Belichick said these Jets — who have dropped three of four since their first meeting with the Patriots and collapsed late in a 44-38 overtime loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday — are “definitely better” this time around.
“We’re looking forward to a big matchup this weekend against New York,” Belichick said. “They’ve certainly been impressive to watch since we played them. (Rookie quarterback Sam) Darnold has really played well. He’s got an excellent group of receivers, tight ends, backs to work with. And obviously, (2018 Pro Bowler Andre) Roberts is leading the league in both punt and kick returns. He’s had an explosive year, and he did it again against the Packers last week.
“Defensively, (they’re) a well-coached team, create a lot of problems with their pressure. Their corners have done a good job for them. Good front, good front seven. It’s going to be a big challenge for us, and we’ll have to play better than we did in the last game. They’re definitely better than they were when we saw them six weeks ago, so it’ll be our challenge to improve and match up.”
This will be the Patriots’ first time seeing Darnold, who missed Week 12 with an injury. Veteran Josh McCown started that game, which was tied late in the third quarter before New England pulled away for a 27-13 victory.
Darnold, the third overall pick in this year’s NFL draft, had the best game of his young career in Sunday’s loss to Green Bay, completing 24 of 35 passes for 341 yards and three touchdowns with zero interceptions.
“(He makes) good decisions, accurate,” Belichick said. “He probably has better timing and execution in the passing game with his receivers. More yards, more touchdowns, fewer turnovers.”
The Patriots shut down another first-round rookie QB this past Sunday, intercepting two Josh Allen passes in a 24-12 win over the Buffalo Bills.
That victory clinched the Patriots’ 10th consecutive AFC East title. A win over the 4-11 Jets would give New England a first-round playoff bye for the ninth consecutive season.
“We’re just going to do the best we can to go out and play as well as we can against the Jets,” Belichick said. “That’s all we can do. Whatever happens after that, happens.”
Thumbnail photo via Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports Images