clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Jets-Cowboys Preview: Key Matchups to Watch

The fourth meeting between Randall Cobb and Brian Poole will be a key factor on Sunday

New York Giants v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Cowboys WR Randall Cobb vs. Jets CB Brian Poole

It’s been a tough start for Randall Cobb, who is averaging 42.0 receiving yards and 3.4 receptions per game, each mark the worst since his 2011 rookie season.

Cobb has not been able to get on the same page with Dak Prescott. Of the nine targets Prescott has thrown to this season, his 56.3 passer rating when targeting Cobb is the worst. That’s mostly due to the fact that Prescott has thrown four of his six interceptions when targeting Cobb, with one each in four consecutive games entering Week 6.

For the Jets, Brian Poole continues to be one of the few bright spots. He has allowed only 0.43 yards per coverage snap, which is the best mark among the 86 cornerbacks who have played at least 100 coverage snaps. Poole should see plenty of Cobb, who has run 88.7 percent of his routes out of the slot — the fourth-highest rate among qualified wide receivers.

Sunday will mark the fourth battle between Cobb and Poole, who clashed three times as members of the Packers and Falcons. Cobb performed well in those games, catching 17 passes for 185 yards and a touchdown. His averages of 5.7 receptions for 61.7 yards in those three games against Poole were better than his overall averages from 2016-18, when he put up only 4.4 receptions for 44.5 yards per game.

Cowboys offensive line vs. Jets defensive front

This is a pretty general matchup, but the Cowboys offensive line has been so good for so long that they just have to be grouped together.

The Dallas offensive line has spearheaded some tremendous numbers yet again. Dak Prescott has taken a sack rate of just 3.4 percent, tied for the third-lowest among qualified quarterbacks. The Cowboys are third in rush offense DVOA and EPA, and sixth in rushing yards per game (140.8). In Football Outsiders’ adjusted line yards per carry, Dallas is ranked fourth. Pro Football Focus has the Cowboys ranked fourth in both pass blocking grade and run blocking grade.

So, yes, it appears the Cowboys still have arguably the best offensive line in football. Travis Frederick is back at center and slowly returning to form. The tackle duo of La’el Collins and Tyron Smith has been incredible. Zack Martin continues to play well, although young left guard Connor Williams has had some bumps.

In Week 6, that group will be going up against a fledgling Jets defensive front that may be without Henry Anderson and features a brutally struggling Leonard Williams.

Great offensive line play is perhaps the most essential key to winning on the road. Since the trio of Smith, Martin, and Frederick was formed in 2014, the Cowboys have the second-best road record in the NFL (27-15, .643), behind only the Patriots.

With everything going on around him, this would be a great time for Quinnen Williams to step up. My goal for this matchup: at least five pressures for the No. 3 pick, against one of the NFL’s best offensive lines.

Sam Darnold vs. the world

Breaking the mold here and going with the quarterback. This is something I probably will not be doing after this game, but it feels necessary this week.

What else needs to be said? The Darnold-less Jets stink at football. Without their franchise quarterback, the Jets went 0-3 and scored 3.0 points per game on offense, losing by an average of 20.3 points. Going back to last season, the Jets are now 0-6 without Darnold, scoring 7.8 points per game on offense and losing by an average of 18.3 points.

That..... is amazingly terrible.

Darnold is going to have to come in and spark this hapless team basically on his own. This was supposed to be the return of Chris Herndon, but now that is going to have to wait at least another week. Quincy Enunwa is out for the season. Demaryius Thomas looks washed up (as expected). The offensive line is in shambles (besides the beastly Alex Lewis).

The Jets could really use a good performance from Darnold this week to get some confidence going about the longterm future of the team. He doesn’t need to put up monster stats. He doesn’t even have to win the game. Against the Texans last season, Darnold didn’t do either of those things, but his performance independent of the mess around him was good enough to show the world he has legitimate franchise quarterback potential.

Regardless of what the results are, a strong performance from Darnold would do wonders for the health of the franchise.

And if he doesn’t play well, that’s fine, so long as his performance isn’t disastrous. It’s his first game back, and he may still be dealing with minor effects from his illness. His overall body of work over the next 12 (hopefully) games is what matters.

But the Jets need something right now. Badly.

How did last week’s key matchups turn out?

Eagles defensive front vs. Jets offensive line - The Jets allowed 10 sacks and their lead back picked up 43 yards and two first downs on 15 carries (four yards before contact). A few of those sacks were on Falk, but it was still a disastrous outing for the front five. Alex Lewis looked good in his starting debut, but all four his starting-mates were awful. Winner: Eagles

Nelson Agholor vs. Brian Poole - Agholor caught just one pass for 20 yards. Another slot weapon quieted by Poole. Winner: Jets

Isaac Seumalo vs. Leonard Williams - Williams posted his second straight game with a penalty, no pressures, and no tackles for loss. He was dominated consistently by Philadelphia’s worst starting lineman in an embarrassing performance. Winner: Eagles

The Eagles obliterated two of the three matchups, and got the blowout win. This is the fourth week in a row that the Jets’ opponent won the majority of the key matchups and came out on top in the game. Amazing!


Will Leonard Williams do something on Sunday?

This poll is closed

  • 40%
    Yes, he will play football
    (50 votes)
  • 20%
    Yes, he will play football AND tackle a guy with a star on his helmet
    (25 votes)
  • 4%
    Yes, he will play football AND tackle a guy named Dak behind an imaginary line while he attempts to throw a ball
    (6 votes)
  • 31%
    Yes, he will play football AND break a rule which in turn makes a guy wearing a black-and-white striped shirt throw a yellow flag
    (39 votes)
  • 1%
    Yes, he will play football AND take a football from a guy with a star on his helmet and carry it beyond a white line to earn the Jets six points
    (2 votes)
122 votes total Vote Now