Rex Ryans' New York Jets will go into Foxborough this Sunday looking to even the score against the Bill Belichick led New England Patriots. At 3-4 against who Antonio Cromartie calls "The New Americas Team" Ryan will surely have his hands full preparing for a Patriots team that is, wait for it, 3-3. A mark that is the same as this very Jets team who has been hammered by the media ever since the Tuesday after the debacle of the Buffalo Bills. A week 7 showdown for first place in the AFC East will draw a lot of attention, and rightfully so.
The Patriots are coming off of a loss in which rookie, yes rookie, Russell Wilson led a dramatic 10 point- 4th quarter comeback. The Jets are coming off of a win against a different rookie, yes Andrew Luck, who was very much out of luck vs a Jets defense that had their way all day long. Two defenses, both of which are coming off of two completely different performances will be the difference in deciding the next first place holder of the AFC East.
The Jets defense, led by Antonio Cromartie will be facing a sort of new Patriots offense. The Patriots offense that Rex and Co. are used to, may continue to show their wildcard back Stevan Ridley. Ridley and the Patriots offense have given them a new dimension that has, at times, made the unit unstoppable. The Patriots never hid the fact they were going to pass the ball down the field every chance they got, until now.
Get this- The Patriots are 3-0 when they rush more then they pass. Yes, that makes them 0-3 when Tom Brady throws the ball more then he hands it off to either Ridley, Danny Woodhead, and rookie Brandon Bolden.
The Jets like to talk about how they beefed up their safeties by signing LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell, mainly to defend the tight end duo of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. That is great, as for once, the two tight ends won't bounce off of the undersized duo of Eric Smith and Jim Leonhard. Simply put, the Jets secondary is in position to control Tom Brady, and his weapons. Cromartie is playing as well as he ever has, in the most important time, with the season-ending loss to all-world Darrelle Revis. He held Andre Johnson to 1 catch with an interception, and followed up the next week by holding Reggie Wayne to 5 catches on 10 targets with yet another interception. Brady and Belichick both are very aware at the confidence Cromartie is playing with, and that may be enough to eliminate Brandon Lloyd from the game. If Cromartie can have success, and continue to torment Brady which he always does (league wide lead in career interceptions of Brady standing at 3) while the strong safety duo out muscle Hernandez and Gronkowski, then its up to the linebackers to contain Wes Welker.
This is where the run game comes back into play, because the Jets haven't faired well defending the run. Yes, they held the Colts offense to under 50 rushing yards, but that was against rookie Vick Ballard, not the injured Donald Brown. With Bolden out, the Jets get a break but Ridley and Woodhead are still a scary 1-2 punch. The Jets defensive line need to close the gaps and not allow the Patriots offense to run well. Running well leads to more hurry up offense, that the rather slow Jets linebacking core won't be able to handle. The Jets defense can't let Brady get comfortable enough where he can call run after run like he did against Denver. Take away the run game, get out to an early lead, and solely focus in on the passing attack.
The Jets offense must come out and do the opposite. Although Shonn Greene had the game of his life last Sunday with 161 rushing yards and three touchdowns, it was against a very weak rushing defense. The Patriots front 7 is much bigger, stronger, and simply better. Their secondary though makes Belichick lose sleep at night. They give up big play after big play, and ultimately led to the fourth quarter collapses against the Ravens and Seahawks. Tony Sparano is known for taking advantage of a defenses' weaknesses, something Jets fans didn't see in Brian Schottenheimer.
The Jets must look for big plays, and take some shots down field. The secondary of New England crumbles when pressured, and Sanchez must wisely choose his shots. Eventually, the defense won't be able to handle Stephen Hill's speed and Jeremy Kerleys' shiftiness down the middle. Run the ball early with just some success, and the passing game should soar. That is if, Sanchez can finally exploit an always weak Patriots secondary, something he has only done a couple of times over the last 3 and a half seasons.
The best way to confuse the Patriots defense, would be to finally let Tebow in the game more. The Jets showed a three person backfield a few times last week, and this week must make Tebow one of those three. Give him a few carries with the ball, something Ryan hinted at this week. Let Tebow show off the arm to keep the defense honest, and that could be enough to drive the Patriots secondary crazy.
Will it all be enough to pull of their first upset win of the season? There is no clear answer to that now, but if the Jets can execute the game plan and stay turnover free, there's no reason to think they can't pull out the win.
All week, its been "Belichick would love to send the Jets into a downward spiral."
But its Ryan who would love nothing more then to put the Patriots and their fans into unfamiliar territory. A territory that the Jets know to well. A territory surrounded by panic, hate, and lots of adversity.
Two cities will be feeling very, very different come Monday morning.850119