By: Russ Goldman
Each week I am hoping to bring a view of the upcoming game from a writer who covers the Patriots opposition, and this week we have Jeff Capellini who covers the Jets for CBSNewYork.com with a Jets blog called the Green Lantern.
Jeff was generous enough to take some time to answer my questions about Sunday’s game, and it’s always interesting to get some insight from someone who writes about the opposing team.
Here are my “Five Questions About The Upcoming Jets Game with Jeff Capellini of CBSNewYork.com”
1. Quarterback Mark Sanchez currently has his completion ratio up slightly from his career numbers. How much importance do you put on this statistic in judging his performance?
What’s more important is, including the first matchup with the Patriots back on Oct. 9, Sanchez has the second highest passer rating in the AFC over the last four weeks, behind only Ben Roethlisberger. As for completion percentage, it’s an important statistic, but really only for teams that rely on the pass more than the run.
If Sanchez is completing 60 percent of his passes (57.5 percent for the season I believe), it’s a major positive, mostly because he is in some sort of way keeping the opposing defense honest so the Jets can pound the football. Sanchez, last week’s pick in the end zone aside, is actually a much more accurate passer in the red zone, which on a team like the Jets means more than if he’s accurately chucking the rock all over between the 20s.
The last meeting in New York didn’t workout too well for Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. (FILE:Icon/SMI)
2. The Jets have gone back to the “ground and pound” lately. Do you expect the running game to be the main focus of the offense in this game?
Because the Jets are playing with such confidence defensively, I’d expect more of a 50-50 run-pass balance. In the past the Jets have tried to work the clock on the ground to keep Tom Brady and his arsenal of weapons off the field, but Rex’s bunch is coming in off basically six straight quarters of suffocating defense, beginning with the second half of the Chargers game.
I think the Jets think they can contain the Pats on offense regardless of how much time is on the clock. This could result in the Jets throwing the entire playbook at the Pats when they have the ball. It’s no secret the Pats’ secondary is a weakness. The Jets would be foolish not to try to exploit it.
3. Before the first match-up I thought Dustin Keller would be the offensive player the Patriots would have to contain. Do you think the Patriots need to take away Keller, or do they need to focus on the wide-outs this time?
Dustin Keller is a good football player, but he’s not the focal point of the Jets’ passing game. He could be more of a weapon. The Jets should use him like the Pats use Gronkowski or Hernandez, but the combination of play-calling, Sanchez still developing and Keller not being as good as either of the Pats’ tight ends makes him less of a weapon than many think he should be.
If I’m the Pats I do the best I can to contain Santonio Holmes because sooner or later his disappointing statistical season will turn around and he’ll break some team’s back. He’s too talented to be this pedestrian, but on the other hand if he’s not being targeted there’s not much he can do about it. Also, Plaxico Burress had sort of a breakout game last week in Buffalo. You can clearly see he’s worked himself back into a football mindset. Plus, he’s murder in the red zone.
4. On defense, I was impressed by the defensive line in the first match-up. Has that part of the defense developed into a strength for the Jets?
Yes and no. The Jets still do not have that guy who can get to the quarterback regularly, but they have schemed their shortcomings beautifully of late, confusing opposing quarterbacks by dropping linemen into medium coverage.
The defensive line has, however, really started to develop on the run-stuffing end with the recent improved play of tackle Sione Pouha. If the Jets get Pouha and a healthy Mike DeVito working side by side they will have all the makings of a shutdown run defense. They are getting there, but aren’t quite there yet.
5. What is your key match-up for this game?
Jets did a terrible job against BenJarvis Green-Ellis in the first meeting. They need to take him away, and not get beat up by the Patriots’ other committee members in the backfield.
They actually should force Brady to beat them. I say that because if the Jets can confuse Philip Rivers and Ryan Fitzpatrick into numerous mistakes by clogging the secondary with many bodies, they should be able to at least control Brady, especially since the Pats’ vertical game has been sorely lacking all season.
Can you also give me a prediction?
For the first time under Rex Ryan the Jets are actually expected, by and large, to win a matchup with the Pats. Rex is 3-3 all-time against Belichick as Jets head coach, including 2-0 at MetLife Stadium. The Jets are playing with an edge defensively and starting to put it all together offensively, at least as much as they are capable.
The Patriots are coming off three lackluster performances in a row by their lofty standards. I realize the Patriots will be out to prove they are still the standard by which the entire AFC should be measured, but I don’t think the Jets care or are intimidated. I know the Pats haven’t lost three games in a row in a decade, but unless they totally man up in what will be a hostile environment against a team brimming with confidence, they will be riding a three-game slide by Monday.
I say Jets win 24-16.
A special thanks to Jeff for taking his time to give his thoughts on this weekend’s match-up. You can also follow him on twitter at GreenLanternJet.