While football is a team sport, games are typically decided by a handful of matchups. With that in mind, every week I’ll be highlighting one matchup that I think will be extremely important in determining the outcome of the game.
Why is this matchup so important?
Last week, the Dallas Cowboys routed the New York Giants, winning 40 - 0. A large reason for this blowout was because the Giants’ offensive line was completely incapable of stopping the Cowboys’ defensive line, which prevented the Giants from adequately passing or running the ball. Highlighting this, the Cowboys’ defensive line generated the highest rate of pressures in the NFL in Week 1.
Highest Pressure Pct Allowed in Week 1— NFL on CBS (@NFLonCBS) September 14, 2023
Steelers 47.1% pic.twitter.com/cIWzvLZoHc
Also of note in that tweet, the Jets’ offensive line wasn’t too much better than the Giants’ offensive line in Week 1, allowing pressures in 50% of their snaps. For Dallas, this presents a possible mismatch that could upend the entire Jets’ gameplan in both the passing and running game, much like it did to the Giants’ gameplan just last week. Furthering that, the Jets are playing quarterback Zach Wilson, who has been known to struggle against good defenses.
How can the Jets win this matchup?
I’m not going to sugarcoat this one, it’s going to be tough. Dallas has one of the best defensive lines in the sport, and the Jets’ offensive line is still gelling after several of their starters worked their work through injuries during training camp. If the Jets are to win this matchup, it’s likely going to have to start with finding a way to minimize the impact of edge rusher Micah Parsons, who is arguably the best pass rusher in the league. Don’t believe me on that? Well, maybe you’ll believe New York Jets offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, who literally laughed when asked how one stops Micah Parsons.
Reporter: "How do you slow Micah Parsons?"— Bobby Belt (@BobbyBeltTX) September 15, 2023
Nathaniel Hackett: *laughs* pic.twitter.com/PyNjx3sTuI
While stopping Parsons is going to be difficult, it probably requires a fair amount of double (and even triple) teams (and even that may not work). This likely means more blocking from the tight end and running back groups, which might require more playing time for tight end Jeremy Ruckert and running back Dalvin Cook than the normal week. Outside of that, the Jets’ offensive linemen who aren’t assigned to block Parsons are going to have to win their one-on-one matchups, because there won’t be much in the way of reinforcements to offer in order to help them.
From a scheme perspective, the Jets will probably have to rely on a quick passing game to minimize the time the linemen spend blocking. With that in mind, we may see a fair amount of read option passes and fewer long developing play action passes compared to the typical week. Additionally, the Jets will likely opt to avoid the Dallas pass rush via relying on running the ball (likely in whatever direction leads the running back away from Micah Parsons).
Who do you think wins this matchup?
Dallas defensive line
Jets offensive line