Guest Editor: Ryan Alfieri (NYJetsDraft.com)
For the first time in the Rex Ryan era, the Jets were unable to beat the Patriots even one time last season.
Let’s be honest: losing to Rex Ryan’s Jets makes Patriots fans sick to their stomach, more so than losing to the Bills or Dolphins. Just the sight of Mark Sanchez throwing up his finger in celebration causes nausea.
While there is certainly a lot more question marks surrounding the Jets than the Patriots at this point, the Jets still have all of the talent and coaching necessary to usurp the Patriots as the top dogs in the AFC East, and here’s why:
Contrary to popular belief, the addition of Quinton Coples could be enough to put the Jets back in the playoffs. In my opinion, Coples was selected specifically to get after Tom Brady.
Why Brady? Coples, having played defensive tackle in his junior season at UNC, has plenty of ability as an interior pass-rusher. As we saw in Super Bowl 46, the best way to disrupt Tom Brady (and any elite quarterback for that matter) is to get pressure up the middle, where Brady cannot step up and make throws.
Assuming the Jets can replicate their coverage ability from last year (with Darrelle Revis back in the fold, there is no reason why they can’t), just a pulse of a pass-rush will make a world of a difference for the Jets.
No more Eric Smith
While LaRon Landry is not an ideal coverage man, he is at least better than Eric Smith, who was perhaps the Jets’ worst defender last year at free safety.
Dealing with the Patriots’ small army of tight ends is always a challenge, but at least the Jets now have a player that can match up physically with tight ends, which has become the focal point of the Patriosts offense.
Brandon Lloyd Will Have Minimal Impact
Arguably the biggest acquisition of the Patriots, Brandon Lloyd’s presence will hardly make a difference on the field. Assuming Darrelle Revis takes away Wes Welker, Cromartie should have little problem dealing with the deep threat receiver on his own.
Since coming to the Jets, Cromartie has developed nicely as a man-coverage corner. All he needs is a hint of safety help to deal with receivers of Lloyd’s caliber.
Besides, any passes that go to Lloyd are one less pass going to Gronk or Hernandez, which the Jets definitely consider as a good thing. The Jets will take the matchup between Lloyd and Cromartie over Gronk and the Jets’ safeties and linebackers.
Stephen Hill’s Downfield Threat
Shifting our attention to the other side of the ball, Hill has the ability to make the Jets’ otherwise-bland offense exponentially more explosive, which is not exactly a term I would use to describe the Jets’ offense in 2011.
While he may have limited experience running routes in a pro-style offense, Hill is gifted enough to overpower and, most importantly, outrun the second and third corners on the Patriots’ roster.
If Hill can just be a threat as a deep receiver, which is something Plaxico Burress could not, it will open things up for Santonio Holmes and Keller underneath. In addition, it will take an extra man out of the box, thus opening up the running game, which is clearly a priority for the Jets this year.
The recent trade for Jeff Otah could be a huge game-changer in the Jets’ favor. Assuming Otah is able to stay healthy – a big if – this Jets offensive line will look a lot more like the unit that got them to two-straight AFC Championship games than the version that crumbled with Wayne Hunter at the helm.
If the Jets’ offensive line can return to its former glory with Jeff Otah playing right tackle at a high level, it will be even easier for the Jets to pick apart a weak New England secondary.
Dedication to the Running Game
It is hardly a secret that the Jets want to get back to being the physical, in-your-face team that brought them postseason success in
2009 and 2010.
This strategy is particularly useful against prolific offensive teams like the Patriots, as running the ball shortens the game and keeps Mr. Brady off the field as much as possible.
A renewed dedication to the run will also open up play-action opportunities for Sanchez, which is where he is most effective. If Sanchez can get back on track with this formula, it will not only work against the Patriots, but it will put the rest of the league on notice that the Jets are back.
Read more from New York Jets and NFL Draft writer Ryan Alfieri at NYJetsDraft.com – it never hurts to learn about your enemy.