Back in January the Jets realized that if they disrupt Tom Brady and put pressure on him, they’ll be able to throw him off well enough to slow down New England’s offense.
That’s still the plan they’re going with heading into this week’s showdown in Foxboro.
For the most part so far this season New England has put the ball in Brady’s hands, and have relied far more on their passing game than in their running game. Rather than run on first down, they’ve instead thrown it 74 times compared to just 59 rushing attempts so far this season, and of those 74 attempts, Wes Welker has 22 of them, the most of any Patriots receiver.
Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis got the last laugh the last time the Jets visited Foxboro back in January. (FILE:Icon/SMI)
Welker’s likely at the forefront of New York’s game plan, especially after watching him catch 40 balls for 616 yards through just four games. Obviously that forces the Jets to figure out who will be on him, and the tough part is he’s playing even better than he did the last time these two faced off last January. One of the noticeable differences this year with Welker is the fact he’s working down the field a lot more than just his normal underneath routes, which gives defenses a much tougher problem to deal with. He’s now suddenly an even bigger threat than he’s ever been, and it’s something New York’s Darrelle Revis has noticed while watching film recently.
“It seems on film he’s always giving defenses problems, it’s him and Tom that have the 1-2 punch with each other, have that great chemistry. They work well together,” Revis told the Star-Ledger. “He has 40 catches already, over 600 yards. So he’s Tom’s go-to guy. He’s tough in the slot, he’s probably the toughest receiver to cover in the slot.”
The fact that New England was more balanced last weekend should hopefully give fans a little more confidence heading into Sunday’s game. In their win over Oakland, they rushed more than they threw on 1st down more times than they have in any other game for the first time all year (the only slight exception was against San Diego, when Brady threw 17 times vs 16 rushes). Against Oakland they carried 17 times compared to 13 pass attempts, with a much bigger emphasis on trying to establish more of a rushing attack.
The good news is that being able to run the ball obviously makes Brady that much more dangerous. Revis told the newspaper that they’ve been watching film and looking for a chink in the armor, trying to figure out a way to be as disruptive with the Patriots quarterback as they were in January.
“We study well, critiquing Tom trying to see his strengths and his weaknesses,” Revis said. “I think that’s the best thing we can do. We try to rattle him in the playoff game and we did. We got him uncomfortable back there and that’s what people say about Tom is try to rattle him and get him moving in the pocket.”
Needless to say it’s going to be quite a match-up. New England’s 32nd ranked defense is getting ready to take on the Jets 25th ranked offense, so on that side of the ball it should be interesting to see how they handle Mark Sanchez’s gang. But if New England is going to drop New York to their 3rd straight loss, clearly it’s going to be up to Brady to make it happen.
On the other side, it’s the league’s top offense against the league’s 2nd ranked pass defense. That should be the most interesting part of this battle, and the intriguing part is going to be whether or not Brady can crack whatever Ryan puts together to try and stop him. Brady’s just 2-3 against the Jets since Ryan took over, and obviously he’s likely looking forward to the chance to kick them out of Foxboro with their 3rd straight road loss.
Whatever the Jets think they saw in the film room, it’s ultimately going to be up to Brady to make sure Revis doesn’t have the same smile on his face that he did after they beat New England earlier this year. The only question now is whether or not the Jets still believe they’ve got him figured out, or if he’ll come out and light them up for 45 points the way they did in their second regular season game last December in Foxboro.
Either way, Brady knows Ryan will make it challenging.
“As long as Rex is coaching the team, they’ll have a good defense,” said Brady yesterday. “They lead the league in pass defense. They have a bunch of good corners. They’re fast, playmakers. It’s one of the best defenses we’ll play all year.”