The Dallas Cowboys will try to make it two in a row against the teams from New York as they host the Jets. These teams feature two of the best defenses in the league, featuring defensive minds like Jets head coach Robert Salah and Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. Both were a part of the Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl-winning squad in 2012.
What should we expect from this one? Here are five things to keep an eye on when the Cowboys host the Jets on Sunday.
1. The battle of Lambeau play callers
It’s unfortunate Aaron Rodgers won’t be on the field Sunday after suffering a season-ending Achilles injury on Monday night. Sure, he’s been a thorn in the side of the Cowboys, but it would’ve been fun to exercise some demons with this revamped Cowboys offense.
While Rodgers won’t be out there, a few of his fellow former Packers will. Wide receivers Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb followed Rodgers to New York. And so did his former offensive coordinator, Nathaniel Hackett, who joined the Packers in 2019 following the firing of Mike McCarthy the previous year. Hackett did a good job in Green Bay finishing top 10 in scoring during his last two seasons with the Packers before taking the head coach job in Denver last year. The Jets are hoping he can spark an offense that has finished bottom five in scoring in each of the last four seasons.
And since McCarthy has taken over the play-calling in Dallas this season, this game will be a battle between two former play-callers in Green Bay.
2. Grind away and take your shot
If there is a game script that supports a Jets victory, it’s going with a heavy dose of the running game. Second-year back Breece Hall looked very good in his return after a torn ACL ended his season last year. The Jets will feature Hall with some Dalvin Cook sprinkled in.
Hackett likes to attack short, stretch the field out horizontally, and force defenses to wrap up. Fortunately, the Cowboys were sure tacklers last week and should be up for the task. For the Jets to have a chance, they’ll need a few big plays. If Hall can get through a crease, it could result in a big play for the Jets offense. And if they can lull the Cowboys’ defense asleep with a lot of underneath and sideline stuff, they might be able to sneak in a deep one to Garrett Wilson.
3. Lucky 13
On the surface, it wasn’t a good game for the Cowboys' tight ends last week as blatant drops by both Jake Ferguson and Peyton Hendershot stick in our minds, and where in the world was the team’s second-round draft pick, Luke Schoonmaker? However, if you look a little closer, you’ll see that both Ferguson and Schoonmaker blocked extremely well. It’s the little things that don’t always show up in the stat sheet.
Speaking of little things, the Jets also love their blocking tight ends as the trio of Tyler Conklin (80% of the snaps), C.J. Uzomah (56%), and Jeremy Ruckett (33%) saw plenty of action against the Bills on Monday night. These three combined for one measly target which tells you all you need to know about how they are used in this offense. With the ground game being key for the Jets, expect a lot of 13 personnel in this one.
4. Battle of the Q’s
The Jets defense is littered with great playmakers. While Defensive Rookie of the Year Sauce Gardner is a household name, there are many others who are turning heads. Brothers Quinnen and Quincy Williams are a couple of them. Quinnen was the third overall pick out of Alabama in 2019 and keeps getting better every year. Last season, he wracked up 12.5 sacks en route to his first-ever All-Pro season.
His older brother Quincy was taken in the third round by the Jacksonville Jaguars, but he was released two years later and then joined his brother in New York. A fresh start was exactly what he needed as he went on to record 100+ tackles in back-to-back seasons during his time with the Jets. Expect to see no. 56 flying around a lot on Sunday.
The Jets also have another interior beast in Quinton Jefferson who sacked Josh Allen twice on Monday night.
While the Cowboys don’t have any players whose first names start with Q, they do have Dan Quinn and his merry men of defensive destroyers. This Jets defense is good and they are not sneaking up on anyone, but the Cowboys are coming off one of the most dominant defensive performances we’ve seen in a while.
5. Another test for Chuma
In 2019, Joe Douglas took over as the Jets GM and he’s done a masterful job rejuvenating the roster. His third-round pick that year was Chuma Edoga who did a great job neutralizing the Cowboys pass rush during the Jets' upset win over Dallas that season. Edoga is now with Dallas and likely to make his second straight start at left guard, filling in for the injured Tyler Smith.
Edoga and his partner to the right, Tyler Biadasz will have their hands full against a formidable Jets defensive front. Normally, this would be cause for concern, but with the improvement of Biadasz and a nice debut from Edoga, this is far less worrisome.