The New England Patriots’ Week 8 opponent made a curious roster move ahead of Sunday’s AFC East showdown at MetLife Stadium.
On Saturday, the New York Jets elevated quarterback Chris Steveler from their practice squad despite already having three QBs (starter Zach Wilson and backups Joe Flacco and Mike White) on their 53-man roster. None of those three are listed on the Jets’ injury report, so Streveler’s elevation doesn’t appear to be health-related.
Why would the Jets call up their fourth QB when injuries aren’t forcing them to do so? Head coach Robert Saleh has not explained his rationale, but this could be an effort from New York to exploit one of New England’s most glaring defensive deficiencies.
The Patriots have struggled to defend mobile quarterbacks this season, surrendering 82 rushing yards to Chicago’s Justin Fields last week and 107 to Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson in Week 3. Those are seventh- and second-best rushing performances by NFL QBs in 2022, respectively. No other defense even has two games in the top 15 on that list. New England lost both handily, allowing 33 points to Fields’ Bears and 37 to Jackson’s Ravens.
Streveler, of course, is no Jackson, Fields, Kyler Murray or Josh Allen. His only regular-season NFL experience to date came as Murray’s backup with the Arizona Cardinals in 2020 and 2021. The 27-year-old has appeared in seven career games, attempting 25 passes and rushing seven times for 21 yards.
But before he played in the NFL, Streveler was an effective dual-threat signal-caller in the Canadian Football League. Over his two seasons with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (2018-19), he rushed for 1,167 yards and 22 touchdowns. Streveler also was the Jets’ leading rusher during the preseason, totaling 71 yards on nine carries across three games.
After watching the success previous Patriots foes had on designed QB runs, Saleh and offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur could look to test New England’s defense with some Streveler-specific play calls. Wilson has decent mobility, too, but isn’t often used in the Jets’ run game (13.4 rush yards per game for his career).
Streveler’s presence on the gameday roster at least will force the Patriots to prepare for that possibility. They’ll also be facing a new-look New York backfield with trade pickup James Robinson replacing impressive rookie Breece Hall, who suffered a season-ending knee injury last week. Robinson joins second-year pro Michael Carter, who is averaging 3.5 yards per carry on 66 attempts this season.
The Patriots made three roster moves of their own Saturday. They activated offensive tackle Yodny Cajuste off injured reserve, placed guard Chasen Hines on IR and elevated center Kody Russey from their practice squad for Sunday’s game.
Kickoff in East Rutherford, N.J., is set for 1 p.m. ET.
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