After the last regular season meeting or should I say beat down (45-3) between these two teams the consensus was, how can the New York Jets even compete with this high powered New England Patriots offense?
Fortunately for the Jets the game had to be played. Head Coaches will have major reservations about their players trash talking leading up to the game. But outspoken Jets coach Rex Ryan talks the talk and expects his players to talk the talk and walk the walk, and boy did they put up to make the Patriots and everyone else shut up.
The big question” MARK” coming into this game was, which Mark Sanchez would show up, the calm, cool and collected one, taking what the defense gives him and protecting the football or the gun slinging, chance taker, forcing throws and turning the ball over. And whether or not the Jets defense could get pressure on a hot Tom Brady without having to blitz and open themselves up to potential big plays was a big question also.
Give Rex Ryan and his staff credit, often times coaches fall into an ego trap, we are what we are, and come in with their guns blazing doing what they’ve done all season, because that’s who they are. On the defensive side of the ball this game was a huge step in the growth of Rex Ryan as a defensive coordinator and head coach.
He showed the ability to step back and be more passive than he wanted to be and showing more creativity in his blitz packages was big.
The Jets came with pressure but it was deceptive, showing 5, 6 and at times 7 rushers but dropping out and only rushing 3 or 4 for the most part, they confused Brady and screwed up the protection pickup of the Pats O-Line.
On the offensive side they made a conscious choice to keep the Pats honest on defense. They ran the ball more times than they threw it (29-25), yet Sanchez threw for 3 TD’s, becoming the beneficiary of good running behind Tomlinson (43 yds) and Green (76 yds) setting up play-action passing, bootlegs and their screen game.
Jerricho Cotchery also had a big day, all of the Jets WR’s did, but Cotchery was pivotal in keeping the chains moving and putting pressure on the middle of the Patriots defense.
Defensively given how they were torched the last time they played, the defense was the catalyst in today’s game. I have always said, spread offenses are finesse teams, the way you beat them is to get up and jam the wide outs to throw off the timing of the routes. This was the formula that the Jets used to beat both Brady and Manning in consecutive weekends.
Because these offenses are so explosive and have multiple weapons, most teams do not have the personnel, talent or confidence to play them aggressively, and this plays right into their hands. The Colts and Patriots count on teams playing mostly zone, all of the routes are timing routes, the QB expects for receivers to be in certain places at certain times. When they aren’t, the QB gets really nervous, hence Manning and Brady the last two weeks.
Against man coverage is where they look to hit their homerun, but most of the time if they see man coverage pressure is coming. There are invariably only 2-3 defenses with the personnel to match up and play this style of defense. This is why these teams are so dominant during the regular season but loose in the post-season. The best defenses and offenses usually are the ones left during the last 3 weeks of the playoff.
The Pats can say we don’t need a Randy Moss to win, maybe not during the regular season, but in the playoffs with a receiving core of possession receivers that lack great speed and cannot stretch the field, you can see the Patriots deficiency. I bet you a million dollars Brady and Belichick wished he had Moss in this game.
But this game is about the Jets pulling off the improbable, continuing to move in the right direction and watching Mark Sanchez grow up, bit by bit. It was about watching this Jets defense and head coach reinvent themselves on the fly. This win is about Sanchez calming down after an erratic first quarter and reigning in his emotions to lead the offense, the Jets D-Line winning one on one battle, the secondary challenging the Pats WR’s and tackling well and the evolution of Rex Ryan as a great defensive mind.