With the Jets set to visit Foxboro, the big question on everyone’s mind is an obvious one.

What will Rex Ryan scheme up with Derrelle Revis to shut down Tom Brady and New England’s passing game?


How will Wes Welker fare against New York’s Darrelle Revis? (FILE:Icon/SMI)

The obvious scenario has him defending Wes Welker, who has been Brady’s “go to” guy through the first four games.  During that span Brady’s relied on Welker to help get things going offensively, targeting Welker on 22 of his 74 first down attempts (29.4%) – the most of any other Patriots receiver.  The next closest player is Rob Gronkowski, who has been targeted 13 times.

What that means for the Jets defense is tough to say.  When the topic came up from the media during his conference call on Wednesday regarding who will be on “Revis Island”, Ryan wouldn’t let anyone in on what the plan will be for this weekend.

“We have, but that doesn’t mean I have to tell you or anybody else,” said Ryan. “Whoever we put him on, he’ll cover. If that’s [Deion] Branch, if that’s [Wes] Welker, if it’s Chad Ochocinco, or, you know, Randy Vataha [a former Pats receiver]. It doesn’t matter, he’ll cover him.”

In the past it’s been a match-up that’s more or less favored Revis, at least judging by what the stats tell you.  ESPNBoston.com’s Chris Forsberg mentioned that topic this morning while pointing out numbers from Pro Football Focus, which showed that Revis has been effective in limiting Welker’s production.

Here are the numbers based on their battles in the past three seasons:

Jan. 16, 2011 — Jets 28, Patriots 21 — 1 target, 1 reception, 10 yards, 6 YAC
Dec. 6, 2010 — Patriots 45, Jets 3 — 1 target, 1 reception, 11 yards, 13 YAC
Sept. 19, 2010 — Jets 28, Patriots 14 — 1 target, 0 receptions
Nov. 22, 2009 — Patriots 31, Jets 14 — 2 targets, 1 reception, 43 yards, 17 YAC
Sept. 20, 2009 — Jets 16, Patriots 9 — 0 targets (Welker DNP)
Nov. 13, 2008 — Jets 34, Patriots 31 (OT) — 1 target, 1 reception, 14 yards, 0 YAC
Sept. 14, 2008 — Patriots 19, Jets 10 — 2 targets, 2 receptions, 35 yard,s 38 YAC
Totals: 3 seasons, 6 games — 8 targets, 6 receptions, 113 yards, 74 YAC

Whatever he decides to do apparently won’t surprise Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. When asked by reporters if there was anything Ryan put together each time that was noticeably different in their three meetings last season, Belichick said that it’s generally not the case of seeing something “new”, just usually something they haven’t done in a while.

“I think basically they have enough variety and flexibility in their defense and they do a number of different things that I think after you watch them play, you don’t too many times look at them and say, ‘Geez there’s something we’ve never seen before’,” said Belichick.  “But they give you a lot of different looks.

“It’s not like you can say, ‘I know what we’re going to get here.’ But when you see it, it’s usually not something that – I’d say it’s pretty unusual that you’d see something that you feel like, ‘Wow they really they drew that one up for this game, that was a real special thing they just put in that week.’ You can usually find that in other games and say, ‘Well this is something they haven’t used in awhile but this is what they’ve done before’ or something that you can relate it back to. I think there’s a lot of carryover in what they do in their overall system, but they do it off a lot of different looks.

The interesting question now is going to be who will step up and pick up some of the slack if Welker gets shut down.   In their last meeting in that playoff loss 9 different players caught passes, with Welker leading the way with 7 catches for 57 yards.  Behind Welker the other leading receivers were Danny Woodhead (6 catches, 52 yards), Deion Branch (5 catches, 59 yards 1 TD), and Rob Gronkowski (4 catches, 65 yards).

Brady said Wednesday that he’s not worried about where Revis lines up on Sunday. If that receiver gets open, he’ll throw it. If not, he’ll find someone else.

“We just call our plays and whoever he lines up on, he lines up on,” said Brady. “If the guy gets open, he gets the ball, as we have shown, and if he doesn’t then somebody else gets the ball.”

Needless to say regardless of what the Jets defense throws at them, as always, it should be an interesting match-up. Ryan’s bunch will likely make a lot of noise this weekend, and this is a key division game against a club that is clearly struggling. It’s a chance to kick them when they’re down, especially considering the fact January’s home playoff loss is still fresh on the minds of most fans.

Obviously a win Sunday wouldn’t exactly be considered redemption for what happened on that afternoon, but it’s still a great opportunity to send the Jets a message and drop them to below .500 when they had back home Sunday.

“They’re very challenging to play,” said Brady. “They have been – it’s always the Jets – since I got here 12 years ago; they’re challenging. It’s a fun game to be a part of. I hope we can go out there and play better than the last time we played them.”