FOXBORO, Mass. — The Patriots’ decision to play both Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe against the Chicago Bears on Monday night has dominated the football discussion this week in New England. Everyone wants to know what Bill Belichick is going to do at the quarterback position come Sunday against the New York Jets — who, believe it or not, actually have a football team worth talking about.
New York has gotten off to a roaring start, beginning the season 5-2 for the first time since 2010. That’s good enough for second place in the AFC East, tying them with the preseason-favorite Buffalo Bills at five wins. So, while he didn’t give any insight to the Patriots’ potential decision at quarterback, Belichick did take some time to give glowing reviews of a few Jets defenders at his Wednesday press conference.
“(Quinnen Williams) is a big problem. Explosive, powerful guy, very athletic for his size,” Belichick said. “Plays hard. There’s a lot of good players up there so you (don’t just) deal with one you deal with two or three other guys, they’ve got (C.J.) Mosely standing behind them. They penetrate, they create negative plays, they’re very disruptive. They run well. They play sound defense is what they do, they don’t give up a lot of big plays.
“They make you run a lot of plays to try and get down to the end zone, and something usually happens before you get there.”
Williams and John Franklin-Myers combine to form a great interior defensive line duo, pitching in 6.5 sacks and six tackles for loss throughout the season. Gardner, the fourth-overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, is the star of that group, having arrived to New York and immediately taken over as the teams lockdown cornerback. Through seven games he has a 90.6 coverage grade, per PFF, and has played in 97.4% of the Jets’ defensive snaps.
Belichick made sure to point out what makes Gardner so special, while also giving additional credit to others on the Jets defense.
“He’s done a good job, long guy, very athletic,” Belichick said. “They’ve got a good pass rush. Quarterbacks aren’t standing back there having a lot of time to make decisions. He’s been able to be aggressive, play aggressive. He’s got a good game, good ball skills.”
Those defenders head up a New York defense that ranks top 10 in interceptions (8), opponent completion percentage (61.5%), opponent first down percentage (29.9%) and opponents yards per carry (3.9). While the Jets offense has its own issues to worry about, the Patriots will as well facing off against that defense, possibly without their starting center.