The New England Patriots finally had their young defense tested by the Indianapolis Colts and they passed with flying colors. In fact, the defense did exactly as they were coached to on that ridiculous fake punt by the Colts. Thus proving the Patriots will not be beating themselves if they lose at all this season. It also showed that a close game against the Colts is far better for their team than a 55-17 blowout against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Next up? The team that I believe is the only team on the schedule that actually has a chance to beat the Patriots, their division rival, the New York Jets. No longer coached by Rex Ryan and they have cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie back. This is the same defensive back duo that the Patriots lost to in the playoffs a few seasons ago, while the Jets went on to lose the AFC Championship Game. Also Ryan Fitzpatrick has been playing well as of late and his twin tower wideouts have been pulling down anything he chucks their way. Brandon Marshall is the first Jets wideout to have four consecutive 100-yard games in the last 40 years. Not to mention the running game featuring Chris Ivory who is on fire.
Unlike years past, this Jets squad has a lot of weapons at their disposal. They also have a real coach in long-time coordinator turned head coach, Todd Bowles. He has brought about change in New York and has a killer roster to boot. All of these factors will surly lead to a long week of preparation for the Patriots, but at the end of the day – in the past decade and a half – what quarterback-coach combo prepares better than Tom Brady and Bill Belichick?
Long story short… the J-E-T-S are D-E-A-D.
Darrelle Revis vs Julian Edelman and Tom Brady
To be honest, I’m not sure this is a matchup that will happen often. Todd Bowles is too smart of a coach to assume that he can constantly man-up and blitz Brady 65 percent of the time like most teams do with the intention of finding holes in New England’s defense early on. It has been proven time and again the way to get to Brady is by having a strong pass rush with only four rushing, dropping the rest into coverage. So how is this a key matchup?
Well, Revis was in New England a season ago. In fact, he won his only ring here. Therefore he was regularly matched up with Julian Edelman during practice. Along the way I’m sure he picked up some cues from Edelman and got to know his style of play. Which is not a good thing for Edelman or Brady for that matter. Most of the successful plays run by the Patriots’ offense are timing routes, citing the amazing chemistry between Edelman and Brady. While rest of the league is fully aware of this, they cannot stop it. Unless you’re Darrelle Revis.
The Jets will play a lot of zone defense, but when they are in man-to-man, look for Revis to play up tight on Edelman and bump him off the line continuously, attempting to disrupt the timing between Edelman and his quarterback. If he finds success in doing so, look for the Pats to attempt to free Edelman up by inserting him into different places on the offense as well as putting him in motion before the ball is snapped. It will be a constant game of chess between three of the best players at their position in the game today.
Player to Watch
In Gronk’s first three games this season he had a whopping 16 grabs for 308 yards and four touchdowns. Since the Week-4 bye he has only had seven grabs for 116 and one score. While those numbers aren’t bad, they certainly are not on pace for how he started. There must be a reason. He is definitely playing at full health, in fact he looks to be in premium physical shape. There is no question Brady wants his targets high as he has one of the highest total for any wideout in the league, much less a tight end. So where has Gronk been?
Right where he has been all year. Only difference now is he is the player opposing defenses are finally concentrating on. It doesn’t take one guy to cover Rob Gronkowski, it takes a team’s entire defense to know where this tight end is at all times. Although, sometimes, it doesn’t matter what you do because when Gronk wants the ball, Gronk gets the ball. Brady will be creative in the ways he gets the ball to Gronkowski and if New York is dumb enough to just stick a linebacker or a saftey on him, it will be a long day for the Jets in Foxboro.
This is the first game preview all season long that have I actually believed will be a competitive game. The Jets have the personnel and the coaching to compete with the Patriots. Your eyes are not deceiving you, it’s completely true, the Jets are good this year. While the Buffalo Bills and Houston Texans fans will tell you that Ryan Fitzpatrick could crap all over himself at any moment. He has never had the weapons or the defense he has on this Jets team, so I don’t think against the Pats young and questionable secondary it will be the game where he implodes.
The Jets will try to establish their physical running game early on, using their plow of a back, Chris Ivory. Last week Ivory ran the ball 13 times for 117 yards on first downs, against the best running defense in the league. You can bet the rent that the Jets will be looking to get those yards on first downs again, forcing the linebackers of the Pats into reacting instead of attacking. Of course all the early down running will set the play action pass up on short yardage situations for the twin towers on the outside for the Jets, Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall.
Bill Belichick and his team have an excellent track record against Fitzpatrick-led teams. The Pats were 4-0 while Fitzy was in Buffalo and crushed the Texans when Fitz was their quarterback in 2012. The Patriots will try to put pressure on Fitzpatrick by blitzing him up the middle forcing him to get the ball out faster than he would like too. Jamie Collins will be leaned on heavily to put pressure on the Jets offensive backfield and with his uncanny athletic ability he should be in Fitz’s face early and often.
The New York Jets easily have one of, the if not THE best defensive lines in the NFL. Between Muhammad Wilkerson and Leonard Williams, this team can cause some serious havoc for any opponent’s quarterback and running backs. The Patriots offensive line is a little banged up after losing left tackle Nate Solder for the year, and then losing his replacement Marcus Cannon the following Sunday. In other words, more likely than not, Brady will be running for his life. Which of course doesn’t mean he will actually run. Instead he will be getting the ball out of his hands in two seconds or less to combat that hard rush of the Jets, just as they did in the Super Bowl against.Seattle. They will will also throw a ton of short check-down routes to their back. Against Seattle, it was Shane Vereen. This year that pass catching back is early season fan favorite, Dion Lewis. The Jets big backers and massive defensive ends will have trouble keeping up with the shifty Lewis leading to many catches and plenty of YAC (yards after carry), forcing the Jets to abandon the pass rush and drop players into coverage. Much to Brady’s liking because zone = touchdowns to Tom freakin’ Brady!
In a hard fought physical game I see the Pats winning by two possessions because Fitzpatrick will force a few balls into coverage to which the Patriots should turn into points, as they usually do.
Patriots 27 Jets 13