Patriots-Jets Meeting Offers Both Teams Opportunities to Turn Things Around on Opposite Sides of the Field


October 7, 2011

Patriots-Jets Meeting Offers Both Teams Opportunities to Turn Things Around on Opposite Sides of the Field The New England Patriots look like world beaters on offense and whipping boys on defense.

Likewise, it's been the same old Jets through four games, with a stifling pass defense and an inconsistent offense.

The dichotomy of these two teams will make for two matchups that feature the cream of the crop and the bottom of the barrel.

Tom Brady has the second-best passer rating in the league at 111.3, but he faces his biggest challenge of the young season by far in a Jets defense that affords opposing quarterbacks a league-low 57.1 passer rating.

"They were good [defensively] last year, [they?re good] this year," said Brady on Wednesday. "As long as Rex [Ryan] is coaching the team, they?ll have a good defense. 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."

Brady and Wes Welker's breakneck record-setting paces are in serious danger against a pass defense that is one of the league's best.

Jets safety Jim Leonhard knows that stopping Welker is essential on Sunday.

"Tom Brady never feels like [Welker is] covered and if he has time in the pocket he?s gonna eventually find him," Leonhard told WFAN. "Obviously they have a ton of chemistry together and you gotta throw a lot of different looks at him to try to provide some challenges and Darrelle Revis might be one answer for us. You have to do whatever you can to take away a team's best option and right now it's obviously Welker."

New England's pass attack versus the Jets pass defense is a matchup of an unstoppable force versus an immovable object. In contrast, the other matchup pits an unmoving force versus a lifeless object. That doesn't mean the latter battle will be any less influential in deciding the war. It was heavily influential in January, when Mark Sanchez put up a 127.3 passer rating on New England's hapless pass defense in New York's 28-21 upset of the heavily favored Patriots.

Those hoping for a turnaround on defense have been left hopeless. Santonio Holmes already threw some barbs at the Patriots defense, saying, "The numbers speak for themselves about how well they're not playing."

That may be the case, but the same could be said for the not-so-high-flying Jets offense, with Sanchez ranking 25th in the league in passer rating with just 75.9. That may not have been bad in the days of the smash mouth running game, but that just won't cut it in today's pass-happy NFL.

But if there's anyone the Jets should be able to throw against, it's these Patriots and their defensive passer rating of 91.1.

Part of the problem may be that the Jets are simply trying too hard to be something they're not. Through four games, the Jets have run rushing plays just 36.8 percent of the time, a big step away from the ground-and-pound style offense they normally run. In the past two years, the Jets have run 60.7 percent and 50.4 percent running plays.

Their running game hasn't yielded its usual results, though, picking up just 3.1 yards per carry, third-worst in the league after being the league's best rushing attack in 2009 and a top-10 unit in 2010. Still, Patriots defensive end and former Jets lifer Shaun Ellis knows how the Jets think, and he thinks that their strategy might change.

"From what we've seen in the past, it will definitely be a change-up week for them [against] us," said Ellis, according to ESPN. "It will be one of those things where they want to make it a physical game. I've been on that side, I know how they think, so it's going to be one of the ones where they come back and do the things that they do well."

The Patriots have been incredibly kind to opposing offenses. Let's just say they rank dead last in a bunch of categories, so this could be just the opportunity a struggling Jets offense needs to get back on track. Maybe, though, it's just the opportunity the Patriots defense needs to prove they're capable of making stops.

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