NEPD Staff Writer: Doug Kyed
I always get a little nervous before Jets games. All the talking, all the drama, I just want it to be game time all week. So now it’s almost here.
Antonio Cromartie wants Brady to throw at him, Santonio Holmes thinks our defense sucks and Aaron Hernandez, well Aaron Hernandez just doesn’t want some story floating around in a New York paper about how he could beat Darrelle Revis.
So where does that all leave us? Right back to where we started. The Patriots were only able to take one out of three last year from the Jets and somehow with all the additions we made, our defense might look worse than last year.
Here’s what I’m looking for in Sunday’s game:
SWITCH UP THE DEFENSIVE LOOKS
Rex Ryan, Brian Schottenheimer and the Jets have four games on tape seeing a four man rush, three games of man coverage, one game of zone and most of the time spent in the base defense.
I’d say it’s time to switch that up a little. I’d expect to see a combination of zone and man, some 3-4, 4-3, 2 down linemen, one down lineman, some linebacker blitzes, defensive back blitzes, three safeties, one safety, et cetera.
Mark Sanchez won’t beat the Patriots on his own, nor will any Jets offensive player.
STUFF THE MIDDLE AGAINST THE RUN
The Patriots match up well with Shonn Greene. They’ve had very good luck at stuffing inside runs and if Greene is forced to bounce out around the edges, it would mean trouble for the Jets offense.
Ladainian Tomlinson could give the Patriots some trouble catching passes out of the backfield. Some of the Raiders most effective plays last week were swing passes to Bush and McFadden. Even with some good receivers in Santonio Holmes, Plaxico Burress, Derrick Mason and Dustin Keller, the goal should be to make Mark Sanchez throw and force mistakes.
The Patriots secondary should be healthy for this game and Haynesworth and Wright are both looking healthy and should help the pass rush.
LIMIT BIG PLAYS
The Patriots have allowed 31 plays this season for 20 yards or more. Last season the Steelers allowed 36 big plays all year while the Broncos let up a league worst 84. The Patriots are currently on pace for 124 big plays.
It’s been fine to let up these big plays during New England’s three wins, but when the offense can’t bail out the defense it becomes trouble. The defense has actually been pretty good bailing itself out with turnovers, but I’m not sure if that’s sustainable.
The Patriots secondary can’t let Santonio Holmes or Plaxico Burress get out deep in one on one coverage. Sergio Brown has been terrible at coming over the top and helping out the Patriots corners. When Brown’s in, I’d like to see him cover Keller one on one leaving Chung or Barrett to help out over the top.
SPREAD THE BALL AROUND
I’d like to see an old school early 2000s game plan from Bill O’Brien and the Patriots offense on Sunday afternoon; the same kind of offense that will annoy fantasy owners of Aaron Hernandez and Wes Welker like me. I’m expecting to see Darrelle Revis not just stick to one guy on Sunday, mostly covering Welker, Hernandez or Ochocinco.
Julian Edelman is doubtful, but if Aaron Hernandez is returning as it appears that gives Brady one of his favorite targets back. If Danny Woodhead is also out, it will be interesting to see what the Patriots do about the no-huddle offense. Typically you see Woodhead back there, but we could be seeing no huddle looks with Green-Ellis, Stevan Ridley, a third WR or a sixth offensive lineman.
With so many defensive backs crammed into the middle of the field like the Jets usually do, I’d like to see Matthew Slater or Taylor Price get deep to stretch the defense and free up the middle a little bit. If the coverage is right, we might see a couple throws deep to Price or Slater.
With Woodhead likely out, that’s added pressure for Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen to step up in his place. Ridley has looked great in the limited time that we’ve seen him, but as a rookie in a complex pass heavy offense, it’s tough to become a legitimate number one running back.
Since Ridley and BenJarvus Green-Ellis are more power backs, Vereen might need to be brought in in a change of pace role.
Woodhead became a trusted blocker for Brady, so we might seen Gronkowski stay in to block or we might see Thomas Welch brought in more as a sixth offensive lineman.
If Edelman is ruled out, that also leaves the return game up in the air. So far we’ve seen Edelman in on punt returns and Edelman and Slater back for kick returns. I suspect we may see Price fill both roles. I thought Price looked a little shaky catching punts during the off season-we’ll see if that continues if he’s handed the role.
Welker of course also has experience as a punt returner, though I don’t think putting him back there is worth the risk.
-I expect Guyton to take a lion’s share of snaps in Mayo’s place. He knows the defense and might be better in a role to be out in space making plays rather than specifically concentrating on stopping the run or being out in coverage. At this point every Patriots fan seems frustrated with Guyton, I hope he can shut us up.
-Ras-I Dowling and Leigh Bodden will be keys in this game. Dowling was very impressive in his limited time and I’d like to see the rookie out there on Plaxico Burress. McCourty will likely cover Santonio Holmes, but might move over to Derrick Mason in three receiver sets. Kyle Arrington has been very good as a 4th CB, but I don’t want to depend on him anymore.
-Mark Anderson got his most snaps against the Dolphins, which is also where we saw a pretty decent Patriots pass rush. I’d like to see Anderson continue to get more action, especially since Shaun Ellis and Andre Carter have been slight disappointments. I’m expecting to see a lot of different looks up front though, so the DL rotation might be in full effect with Haynesworth and Wright back.
Woodhead, Edelman, Mayo, Vollmer, Mallett, Phillip Adams, Jermaine Cunningham