Tag Archives: Buster Skrine

Patriots – Jets II Keys, Who Has the Razor’s Edge?

Steve Balestrieri
December 23, 2016 at 6:00 am ET

The New England Patriots return to the friendly confines of Gillette Stadium in Foxboro for their final regular season home game to take on the New York Jets. The game is scheduled for Saturday Christmas Eve, at 1 p.m.

CBS will televise this week’s game and it can be seen locally on WBZ Channel 4 in Boston. Ian Eagle will handle play-by-play duties with Dan Fouts as the color analyst. Evan Washburn will work the sidelines. The game will also be aired on the Patriots flagship radio station 98.5 The SportsHub with Bob Socci and Scott Zolak on the call, produced by Marc Cappello.

The Patriots (12-2) improved to 7-0 on the road this season with a convincing 16-3 win over the Denver Broncos. Dion Lewis rushed for 95 yards and the Pats got three turnovers while holding the Broncos to just three points and shut them out for the final 53 minutes of the game.

The Jets (4-10) were hammered by Miami last week. Career backup Matt Moore threw for four touchdowns in the win. QB Bryce Petty was hit hard and had to leave the game but is expected to play this weekend.

We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our “Razor’s Edge” column in 2016 to give some quick analysis on some of the key matchups of the game and what you can look for in how the game plays out.

Series History:
The Patriots and Jets meet for the 116th time on Sunday in an intense rivalry that dates back to 1960. The Patriots hold a slight all-time 60-54-1 edge in the series that has been incredibly even and always tough.

The Patriots hold a 32-25-1 edge overall at home and have won 9 of the last 11 meetings. The Pats won a close 22-17 win in the Meadowlands in the first meeting this season as Tom Brady hit Malcolm Mitchell with the game-winning touchdown pass with less than two minutes to go. Mitchell had a pair of touchdowns in the game.

Here is a look at some of the key matchups and who holds the Razor’s Edge.

First up is the Patriots offense:

Patriots – Jets II, Key Matchups; Who Has the Razor’s Edge?

Steve Balestrieri
December 24, 2015 at 6:09 am ET

The New England Patriots head back out on the road for a key game against the New York Jets. The normal rivalry aside, this one is even bigger in terms of playoff implications for both teams.

Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. ET on Sunday and will have Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts on the call. The game can also be heard on the Patriots flagship station of 98.5 FM the Sports Hub with Bob Socci and Scott Zolak on the call.

The Jets (9-5) are on a four-game winning streak and need to win to keep their playoff hopes alive. They are currently tied with both the Pittsburgh Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs at 9-5 but lose out on the tie breaker and are on the outside looking in. They beat the Dallas Cowboys 19-16 last week as they gutted out a close win in the final moments.

New England (12-2), beat a bad Tennessee Titans team 33-16 on Sunday to clinch a first round bye in the playoffs. It was the Patriots sixth straight 12-win season becoming only the second team (Indy with seven) to do so. With a win on Sunday the Patriots will clinch the #1 seed in the AFC and ensure home field advantage in the playoffs.

We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our “Razor’s Edge” column in 2015 to give a quick break down on some of the key matchups of the game and what you can look for in how the game plays out.

Series History: The Patriots and Jets will meet for the 114h time on Sunday including the playoffs. The Patriots hold a 59-53 overall edge against Gang Green but the series has been marked recently by very close games. The Jets maintain a 28-27 lead at home although the Patriots lead 3-2 in games at Met Life Stadium.

The most recent matchup was another classic Pats-Jets contest; New York led 20-16 in the fourth quarter before Tom Brady led the Patriots on two 10-play scoring drives for touchdowns in the Pats 30-23 win.

Here is a look at some of the key matchups and who holds the Razor’s Edge.

First up is the Patriots offense:

Who Are the X-Factors on Sunday in the Patriots – Jets Game?

Steve Balestrieri
October 23, 2015 at 6:22 am ET

The Patriots and Jets are set for a fantastic chess match on Sunday pitting the top defense  against one of the top offenses in the NFL. While the storylines have been the usual Tom Brady vs Darrelle Revis, that is a tad too simplistic and an approach the Patriots under Bill Belichick are unlikely to use.

The Patriots never attack the strength of an opponent, instead they try to identify or create mismatches against an opponent’s weaknesses. So seeing Brady line up and trying to target Revis isn’t only a dumb proposition, it is not going to happen.

Will they test Revis on occasion?, surely but always carefully so don’t expect to hear his name called much on Sunday. The Patriots have traditionally gone the other way in terms of trying to attack the Jets defense.

On the offensive side of the ball for the Patriots and the defensive for the Jets who are the “X-Factors” who will go a long way in determining the outcome of this matchup? We’ll start the Jets defense first:

Buster Skrine – The Jets slot corner has been one of the best free agent signings this season after coming over from Cleveland. Playing mostly inside, it is was one of the tougher assignments in the NFL as it usually means that the slot corner has to cover the smaller, quicker targets in the passing game.

Skrine has been outstanding in this regard thus far in 2015. With the Jets playing in their nickel packages in over 62 percent of the snaps thus far, Skrine has been on the field, and contributed…a lot.

Having already added (or returned to the fold) Revis and Antonio Cromartie on the outside, the Jets beefed up their number one problem on defense from the year before. Skrine gives them the versatility and physicality to matchup with any offense. The Jets show all kinds of different looks, 4-2-5, 3-3-5 and more in their sub-packages and having three outstanding corners gives them the versatility to match up anywhere.

Another facet of his game that bears watching is his blitzing. Jets defensive backs have blitzed more than anyone else this season and prior to the Washington game, Skrine had blitzed on 18 of those. He’ll have to be accounted for as he lines up the same way each time and opposing quarterbacks don’t know if he’ll come off the line or not.

Skrine suffered a concussion on Sunday against the Redskins and after not practicing on Wednesday; he was back on the field on Thursday, albeit in a red non-contact jersey. That is always a positive sign and I expect he’ll be cleared an on the field on Sunday afternoon.

He’ll draw a combination of Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman as the Patriots slide each of them both inside and outside depending on the situation. If he is unable to go on Sunday, I would expect Amendola to get a lot of attention from Brady against either Marcus Williams who has been bothered with a hamstring injury or second year corner Dexter McDougle a primarily special teams contributor who played his first snaps of defense last week against the Redskins and did well.

So who is the “X-Factor” for the Patriots defense this week?

Scott Chandler – Chandler was a nice pickup for the Patriots this season as he always enjoyed great success against them when he was a member of the Buffalo Bills. The Patriots already have the premiere tight end in the NFL with Rob Gronkowski, but Chandler gives them an even bigger target for Tom Brady to utilize, especially in the red zone. Chandler is 6’7, 270 pounds to go along with Gronkowski’s 6’6, 265 and the two worked tirelessly with Brady during the spring and summer trying to get their rhythm and chemistry flowing.

Chandler hasn’t been a big target thus far in 2015, as the Patriots have used more “11-personnel” with 1 RB, 1 TE and 3 WRs on the majority of their snaps offensively. Facing the Jets this week, the matchups favor the Jets if they go strictly with that package. Look for New England to play more of their “12-personnel” package this week; with 1 RB, 2 TEs and 2 WRs.

This could be a week where Chandler could see more targets than he’s had in the first five games as this particular package could give the Patriots more flexibility in attacking the Jets defense. Lining up either in-line or split, they’ve move both Gronkowski and Chandler around the formation and it gives them the ability to either run the ball or throw depending upon the pre-snap reads by Brady.

By using both Chandler and Gronkowski who is always a big focus of opponent’s game plans in the passing game, it negates some of the Jets speed in the slot and gives the Patriots a decided size advantage. If nothing else it will force the Jets to react to them rather than let them dictate.

With Patriots wide receiver Brandon LaFell just coming off of PUP this week, it is unknown if he’ll even be active on Sunday. He’s a big target and a chains mover who was a favorite target for Brady in 2014. He’d be the guy they’d matchup with Cromartie if he’s 100 percent which would be good one to watch.

Recent addition, Keyshawn Martin is suffering from a hamstring injury as was a limited participant in practice on Thursday. Running back Dion Lewis is still limited with an abdominal injury so he may not see a lot of looks in the passing game. It will be interesting to see how the Jets decide to defend him when Brady puts him in motion and splits him out wide.

But for the Patriots, Chandler may see a lot more action this week. Edelman and Gronkowski always draw lots of attention. Edelman will see his former teammate Revis on most snaps and Gronkowski will draw attention from lots of different combinations of safeties and linebackers. Chandler is a good option to find some operating room.

The chess match between the Jets and Patriots will be a fun one to watch as two of the top units on either side of the ball meet for the first time this season at Gillette Stadium on Sunday. Expect both teams to adjust as the game goes on.

Another key area to watch will be the scoring in the third quarter; the Jets have allowed zero ….yep zero points in the third quarter this season. Who leads the NFL in third quarter scoring? New England leads the league, averaging 10.2 points per game in the third quarter. You can’t make up stuff this interesting.

This should be a great game on Sunday and we’ll be here with all the updates as they occur both during and after the game. Be sure to check out Ian Logue’s stat sheets as well as the rest of the great content here on PatsFans.com.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcast on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

Patriots – Jets, Who Has the Razor’s Edge – Key Matchups

Steve Balestrieri
October 22, 2015 at 6:00 am ET

The New England Patriots return home for a three-game stretch after a very successful road trip with wins over the Cowboys and Colts. This week they take on a resurgent Jets team for first place in the AFC East. The Jets are playing much better football than preseason predictions gave them credit for.

The game will be televised on CBS with Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts handling the play-by-play and analyst duties and will be carried locally on WBZ TV. Kickoff is slated for 1:00 p.m.

The Jets (4-1) have thrived under new coach Todd Bowles and a re-tooled secondary. The team brought back Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie as well as Buster Skrine and the pass defense is one of the best if not the best in the NFL.

The Jets offense has been keyed behind the physical running of Chris Ivory, who has been outstanding thru the first quarter plus of the season. Last week the Jets blew out the Washington Redskins 34-20 as Ivory gained 146 yards on the ground and 196 overall.

New England (5-0), was victorious over the Colts 34-27 on Sunday Night Football as Tom Brady continued his sharp play to start the season. Brady threw for over 300 yards and three touchdowns in the contest that featured one of the more bizarre special teams plays that one could imagine. The Colts tried a fake punt that had zero chance of success which led to a Patriots touchdown that put the game away in the second half.

We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our  “Razor’s Edge”  column in 2015 to give a quick break down on some of the key matchups of the game and what you can look for in how the game plays out.

Series History: The Patriots and Jets have met 115 times in their history with the results being pretty even throughout the history and rivalry between the two teams. New England holds a 60-54-1 edge overall as they’ve dominated in the win column the past several years although most of the games have been very close.

The Patriots are 31-25-1 overall against the Jets at home in their history. New England took both games last season with a total difference of three points in the matchups. A 27-25 win at home and a 17-16 win in the Meadowlands.

Here is a look at some of the key matchups and who holds the Razor’s Edge.

First up is the Patriots offense:

Patriots 2015 Opponents, Five First Impressions of the Jets

Steve Balestrieri
October 20, 2015 at 8:09 am ET

The Patriots return to their Gillette Stadium home after a successful two week road trip that saw impressive wins over Dallas and Indianapolis that puts the team at 5-0.

Now they face a familiar division rival the New York Jets. The Jets are off to a great start at 4-1 and fresh off a 34-20 thumping of the Washington Redskins. The rivalry with the Jets is always fierce regardless of either team’s record, with first place in the division on the line, even in Week 7 it will get ratcheted up a notch even more.

As is typical with these games, a little bit of gamesmanship comes into play every time the two teams meet. Just yesterday the Jets signed former Patriots wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins to the active roster from the practice squad. Of course it could just be that they were filling a roster spot with WR Quincy Enunwa being suspended for four games for a domestic violence incident from a year ago.

The game is scheduled for Sunday with the kickoff slated for 1 p.m. and will be televised by CBS. The game can be watched locally on WBZ-TV.

Here are our five first impressions of the Jets;

Todd Bowles Exceeding Expectations Quickly: Bowles came highly regarded from the Arizona Cardinals and inherited a team in turmoil. The Jets had a ton of cash in salary cap space and won only four games in 2014. Most preseason projections had the Jets finishing again in the AFC East basement.

But Bowles is much farther along in the rebuilding process and has the team already playing at a high level. Having already matched their win total of last season they now have their sights set on the champs and Bowles is an early front-runner for the coach of the year honors.

Known as a defensive coach, he showed off some of his knowledge and in the meantime gave the Patriots something else to consider in the Jets win over Washington. Getting DL Sheldon Richardson back last week, questions were asked how Bowles would work him back into the rotation along the defensive line.

Bowles scrapped his normal 3-4 base defense look and went to a more traditional 4-3 with Richardson and Damon Harrison at DT and impressive rookie Leonard Williams and Muhammad Wilkerson at DE. The move gave the Jets a tough unit for Washington to run on and they were able to disrupt the passing of QB Kirk Cousins.

Chris Ivory Off to a Stellar Start to 2015: The Jets running back Chris Ivory, behind a better than advertised offensive line is off and running to start the season. Ivory ran for 146 yards against the Redskins and had 196 total yards from scrimmage. After having 166 yards rushing against Miami, his 312 rushing yards are the most by a Jets running back in two games since 2009. He’s averaging a very impressive 5.5 yards per carry.

Wide receiver Brandon Marshall already believes that Ivory is not among the best in the NFL but that he is the best. “He’s already the best running back in the league right now,” Brandon Marshall said. “Just watch the tape — speed, quickness, agility, vision, endurance — he has it all. Eight-man box, nine-man box, they came out and said, ‘We don’t care about the wide receivers, we’re going to stop the run.’ Ivory, again, came out and put up over 140 yards. He’s amazing and he’s the best in the league.”

Ivory has given the Jets the balance that they need as offensive coordinator Chan Gailey has produced a nice mix of runs and passes by playing against an opponents’ weakness. The Jets only loss this season, against the Eagles was with Ivory on the sideline nursing a sore groin. In his four starts, he’s amassed 460 yards rushing with four touchdowns as well as his 5.5 yards per carry average.

Revis Leads Revamped Jets Secondary: Much like he did in 2014 with the Patriots, Darrelle Revis is leading a re-tooled secondary again but this time for the Jets. The Jets secondary last year was a mess and new GM Mike Maccagnan wasted little time in bringing in the pieces to make it better.

He signed Revis after the Pats declined on his $25 million dollar option, brought back Antonio Cromartie and signed slot corner Buster Skrine away from the Browns. The result is that the Jets now have the top defense in the league.

Revis and Cromartie give the Jets excellent coverage on the perimeter and Skrine has been one of the best men at playing inside in the slot all season. Skrine was injured against the Redskins, suffering a concussion and will have to be cleared by the league’s protocols this week, but the Jets corners will present a tough test for Tom Brady and Co.

As for Revis, he had this to say, “Last year was last year. We had a great time. We ended up winning,” Revis said. “We’ve been playing lights out,” he added. “We’ve just got to continue to make turnovers on defense. It’s going to be a battle next week. They’re a team, man. Any team can be beat any week, on any given Sunday.”

Jets Offensive Line, A Big Test for NE: One of the big strengths of the Jets this season has been the surprising play of the Jets offensive line. While everyone knows they like to run the ball and be physical up front, they’ve also been remarkably adept at protecting QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, and this will be one of the matchups to watch this week as they go up against a re-tooled Patriots front seven.

The Jets boast three first round draft picks on the OL with D’Brickashaw Ferguson, James Carpenter and Nick Mangold as well as Willie Colon and Breno Giacomini. And they’ve been playing lights out. Averaging 146 yards per game on the ground, the 2-3 yards they get in the first quarter turn into 8-10 late in the game as they wear down opponents. Plus, they’ve allowed a total of just two sacks of Fitzpatrick this season.

With the ground game of Ivory, the pass protection has allowed Fitzpatrick to utilize play action passing as the Jets now have plenty of weapons in the passing game. With that in mind…

Jets Wide Receivers Present Tough Challenge:  The Jets needed to upgrade their wide receiver corps this off-season, and they have. Bringing in veteran Brandon Marshall, to complement Eric Decker, they have a potent 1-2 punch in the passing game on the outside. But they didn’t stop there, drafting speedster Devin Smith from Ohio State. Their return game is handled by Jeremy Kerley who adds to the depth of the passing game as well as Chris Oswusu.

Unlike other seasons, Fitzpatrick as the Jets QB has a full complement of weapons at his disposal. Throw in tight ends, Jeff Cumberland and Kellen Davis and the offense has the capability of being a very tough one to stop.

One area that they’re working on is the deep passing game, with opponents loading up the box to stop the run, Fitzpatrick would love to hit some deep throws to soften things up and make some big plays.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcast on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

AFC East Roundtable – Surprises and Disappointments So Far in Training Camp

Ian Logue
August 12, 2015 at 5:26 pm ET

Four AFC East websites get together each week to discuss the AFC East. This week we discuss who has surprised in the first ten days of camp and who has been a disappointment for each team in the division. See what Matt Barbato of New York Jet Fuel, Ian Logue ofPatsFans.com, Steve Saslow of Bills Daily, and Luis Sung of Phin Maniacs has to say right here.

Steve Saslow (@BillsDaily): The biggest surprise for the Bills so far in training camp is DL Corbin Bryant. He was a solid contributor last year for the team but has really blossomed in training camp this year. He will be a solid depth player who will likely start on opening day while Marcell Dareus serves his one game suspension. Bryant will be there if Dareus or Kyle Williams get injured and provide a second wave along the defensive line along with another solid second teamer in Stefan Charles.

The biggest disappointment so far in training camp for the Bills are the quarterbacks, all four of them have struggled. This was the battle to watch during camp to see who would win the starting job but right now it looks like which quarterback is going to be the lesser of all the evils.

Matt Cassel is the leader by default and did have a fantastic day on Monday but has been average to below average for most of camp. EJ Manuel has been wildly inconsistent while Tyrod Taylor has shown some flashes but just not enough to make an impact in the battle.

Granted they are going against one of the top defenses in the NFL but the way things have gone so far fans are very restless knowing all the pieces are on place for a playoff run except at the most important position.

Luis Sung (@PhinManiacs): Training camp always has its own set of surprises and disappointments, and the Miami Dolphins are no exception to this rule. Probably the biggest surprise for the Dolphins so far this training camp is running back LaMichael James, who after having a rather dramatic exit out of San Francisco, joined the Dolphins and struggled to get onto the field due to the lack of experience in the offense. Now however, James has stepped up dramatically and has started making a case for himself to be the primary backup running back behind starter Lamar Miller.

The only thing keeping James from winning that job now is the fact that running back Damien Williams is better at pass-blocking than James, and the Dolphins coaching staff prefers players who are good at everything rather than having players who specialize in one thing. Don’t get me wrong, Williams is a very good running back too, but he isn’t the pure explosive weapon that LaMichael James is turning out to be in Bill Lazor’s offense.

As for the biggest disappointment so far, I could say that it’s projected right guard Billy Turner, who has continuously gotten his face beat in ever since camp started, but that would be unfair as they guy beating his face in is the best defensive tackle in the NFL: Ndamukong Suh. He beats everyone’s faces in, so I give Turner the benefit of the doubt as he looks much better when he’s not facing Suh.

Instead, I’ll say the biggest disappointment is wide receiver Kenny Stills. He was brought in to be Mike Wallace’s “replacement”, but that’s truthfully only a false narrative created by the media because of the similar speed Stills and departed receiver Mike Wallace share. Stills has done well while on the field, but his issue is he hasn’t been on the field very long. A calf injury has kept Stills out of the last several practices and fans are beginning to grow concerned.

If Stills can get healthy and get back onto the field, I have no doubt he’ll be a good receiver here in Miami. But up until now, he’s been disappointing, mainly because he just hasn’t been able to play. And if you can’t play, you’re no help to your team. DeVante Parker has an excuse, Stills does not.

Matt Barbato (@NewYorkJetFuel): The most pleasant surprise in training camp has to be wide receiver Chris Owusu, who is one of the few players that head coach Todd Bowles has highlighted during training camp. Owusu has played in only 22 games in his four-year NFL career, but he is impressing at training camp this summer.

Owusu has 20 catches in his career and joined the Jets midway through the 2014 season when he was claimed off waivers. He is 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds and has blazing speed in open space. With second-round pick Devin Smith sidelined with broken ribs, the Jets may elect to keep Owusu on the 53-man roster since he possesses a similar skill set to the rookie.

Unfortunately, Owusu is dealing with a concussion he suffered last weekend in camp. He missed the annual Green and White scrimmage and is still undergoing concussion protocol. If he can get on the field before the first preseason game, Owusu will have a great shot to make the roster with a strong camp.

The most disappointing in training camp has been Dee Milliner, and it isn’t really his own fault. Milliner has had poor injury luck, to say the least. His most recent injury came after last Thursday’s practice when the team announced he would undergo surgery for a torn tendon in his right wrist. This injury is his seventh injury of his career and his second ailment with New York. He suffered a torn Achilles early in the 2014 season that cost him the final 13 games of the year.

Milliner was having an impressive camp up until the injury and he is expected to miss four-to-six weeks. Unfortunately, it’s hard to rely on Milliner to stay healthy going forward. He was expected to continue his development in a depth role behind veterans Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie and Buster Skrine. Now, there’s a possibility Milliner’s future with New York is in jeopardy.

Ian Logue (@PatsFans): The biggest surprise so far during Patriots training camp, believe it or not, has been Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler. Considering the fact he’s been under the microscope this entire offseason since making the play heard around the world against the Seahawks, Butler has come into camp playing better than anyone could have ever hoped. He’s been confident and consistent, and even after getting beaten on one play he’s right there the next, with the defensive back never really having had a poor practice thus far through training camp. There were high hopes for him coming into 2015 and so far he’s been absolutely terrific and is one of the only cornerbacks that seems to have locked down a role this early in the preseason.

However, on the other end of the spectrum is second-year defensive lineman Dominique Easley, who so far has been a disappointment during the early part of camp. The expectations were high for Easley after the Patriots opted to move on from veteran defensive lineman Vince Wilfork this offseason, especially given their needs up front. But so far the 2014 first round pick hasn’t really stood out. He hasn’t been terrible, but he hasn’t been great and that’s the type of player most had hoped to see given the potential he had showed during his collegiate career. There have been flashes at times, but Easley really needs to put more of those together and start settling in over these final few weeks because at this point he’s not playing up to the level the Patriots likely hoped they’d get when they took a chance on him last year.