The Patriots are coming off one their most embarrassing losses in two-plus seasons, and who better than to help them refocus their efforts than the good old Jets? A solid win over a divisional rival could be just what New England needs to get on track. And once they do get on track they’re going to reel off a lot of wins and be very tough to beat. Just the kind of game the Hoodie ordered!
Our Five Keys to taking down Rexy’s crew after the jump…
1. Be ready for the kitchen sink – If I’m the Jets I’m not holding anything back and going with the most aggressive game plan I can put together. They’re not going to win this game by taking a conservative approach. They need to take shots down the field. They need to use every little Tim Tebow trick they’ve been saving up. They need to go for it on 4th down. Fake punts. Onside kicks. All of it. And the Patriots need to be ready in all three phases. The way to counter aggression is to turn it against your opponent. Stop them on 4th down. Don’t bite on fakes. Be ready for whatever they might throw at you. Just do not let them get rolling with all the tricks and gimmicks, because if they do this is going to be a game.
2. Three 20+ pass plays or less – I’m not so much of a blind homer to believe the Patriots pass defense will suddenly go air-tight on us, and I fully expect the Jets will actually let Mark Sanchez air it out multiple times (look out those sitting near the field). And why shouldn’t they? It’s the Patriots biggest defensive weakness. But instead of the 6 or 7 long passes the Pats have been giving up, let’s just keep it to three. Maybe we could even pick off a couple of them? Regardless the Patriots defense has to be doing a lot of back end coverage work this week, because it doesn’t happen often, but every now and then Sanchez has his deep ball working (see playoffs, 2010). They need to start showing improvement this week back there, things have been stagnant or worse since the Ravens game.
3. Fast and Furious on offense – With all this talk of the evolution of the speedy no-huddle you might remember that the Jets were a major influence on the Patriots desire to play faster on offense. In week two of 2009, with Wes Welker out, the Patriots resorted to putting play numbers on sideline signs to quickly communicate the calls to their offense. Belichick knew Rex Ryan’s style of defense, and that if you give them time to disguise their defense it played right into their hands. The answer? Play fast, force them to react and not dictate, and this should be on full display on Sunday. The Jets defense is sprinkled with youth and inexperience, and on our homefield it’s the perfect recipe for the Blitzkreig.
4. Throw it where Cromartie ain’t – AntonioCromartie has elevated his play since Revis went down, but the depth after him with Kyle Wilson leading the way, is lacking. They’ll move Cro around depending on the situation, but I’d expect to see him on Lloyd for the most part. Welker is the kind of receiver that gives Cro problems. This will likely open things up for Hernandez, who could have a big game. Perhaps the most interesting match-up will be Gronk vs. the new Jets safeties. They were brought in to stop him, let’s see how they do. But with such a talent disparity in coverage it would probably be best to generally avoid Cro whenever possible.
5. Finish – “Finish” will henceforth replace “Win” as the final key each week because that’s how the Patriots are going to start winning these close games they’ve been losing. I’m not going to point fingers at either side of the ball, it’s a team-wide problem and the only way for it to change is for playmakers on both sides of the ball to start stepping up and making plays when the game is on the line. There has not been enough of this yet from the 2012 Patriots and it’s time to re-establish that part of the team’s identity. When an opponent is on the ropes, and the opportunity is there to finish them off, the Past must do so. Whether it’s the defense getting a stop, or the offense getting that final first down or score to seal it. Finish them!