Week 1 was a great victory against the Cincinnati Bengals, but Week 2 is against a divisional rival who had no trouble thrashing the Bengals twice last season- the New York Jets. The Jets should be the primary competition in the AFC East and this is a statement game for both the Patriots and the Jets. So what should the Patriots be afraid of?
3. The Patriots Defense - The defense is young and inexperienced. In week 1, they managed to play extremely well against an offense much better than the Jets' offense- but they shouldn't be complacent. Brandon Meriweather is the oldest starter in the secondary and he was a 2007 draft pick; ie: this is his 4th season. Alongside Meriweather is 2nd year players Pat Chung and Darius Butler, and rookie Devin McCourty. That's not a lot of experience at all. They'll be facing veteran receivers Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery, as well as an excellent tight end in Dustin Keller (if Mark Sanchez can find them). Point is, the secondary is young.
Looking up at the defensive front seven, there is also inexperience. Vince Wilfork is really the only starter with a lot of experience. Tully Banta-Cain is still relatively "new" to the Patriots, after his stint in San Francisco. There's Jerod Mayo as a defensive captain, who was the 2008 first round draft pick (yeah, this is only his 3rd season in the NFL), who will most likely be playing with rookie Brandon Spikes and new starter Rob Ninkovich, or even rookie Jermaine Cunningham.
On the defensive line, besides Big Vince, is newcomer Gerard Warren who has 1 game in the 3-4 defense to his name- last week. Opposite is Mike Wright, who is better suited as a back-up, but is playing due to lack of a starting quality player. Looking at the defense, there's very, very little experience to go around. Their youth could be their downfall in this game early in the season.
Read the other two reasons after the jump!
2. Shonn Greene + LaDainian Tomlinson - The Bengals went for 87 yards and a touchdown last week. Ray Rice ran circles in the playoffs. The Patriots are weakest against the run at the RDE position (which means the RB is running behind the left tackle and guard). D'Brickashaw Ferguson is a much better left tackle than Andrew Whitworth, and the Bengals were able to gouge the Patriots towards the left. There's not much more to be said as to why this is a weakness. The Jets are a run-first team and will be running towards the left ALL GAME.
So how do the Patriots counter the run game? They shift their personnel.
Gerard Warren can stay at LDE. Myron Pryor plays NT. Vince Wilfork shifts to RDE. Wilfork's no foreigner to the RDE position and often shifts over. Against the Jets, this movement might become a necessity to stop the run. Another option? Run the 4-3.
Warren - Ron Brace/Pryor - Wilfork - Wright; is a heavy defensive line that should be able to stop any running play, while still providing heavy pressure on Mark Sanchez. The linebackers can be Guyton - Spikes - Mayo and should be extremely effective. Tully Banta-Cain and Jermaine Cunningham can come on the field and substitute for Warren or Wright to create a lighter defense, in case the Jets start throwing screens to LT.
The Patriots are going to have to adjust out of their typical 3-4 if they want to beat the Jets. If they don't, the defense will be in for a long night.
1. The Jets Defense - The Jets have the BEST defense in the league. No question. Darrelle Revis has the talent to shut down Randy Moss on his own. They're able to bring blitzes from all direction and pressure Tom Brady while only rushing five players. If the Patriots lose, it will because the Jets' defense had a stellar day. If Antonio Cromartie doesn't play scared, which I think he might due to how many penalties he had last game, and if Kyle Wilson can rebound from a rough first night, the Patriots wide receivers might be slowed a lot. The Patriots aren't going to be able to run the ball against the Jets, which means that the Patriots need Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez to have huge games as they create mismatches.
Worst Case Scenario
Revis vs Moss - Revis can shut down Moss.
Cromartie + Safety vs Wes Welker - Welker has Cromartie playing man with a Safety in support, so Brady can't get Welker the ball.
Wilson vs Brandon Tate - Should be a pretty even match-up, but it could be considered a draw.
Bryan Thomas + Jason Taylor + Defensive Line vs Patriots Offensive Line - The Jets manage to cause pressure and get to Brady all game.
Bart Scott + David Harris vs Gronkowski/Hernandez + Fred Taylor/Kevin Faulk - That leaves the ILBs to watch the Patriots' tight ends and running backs. Can the Patriots create mismatches up the middle of the field?
I think the Patriots are going to be able to win the game up the middle, but the Jets are fully capable of shutting down the Patriots' high flying offense.
Will they stop the Patriots? That's the question. If the Patriots are able to overcome these three potential issues, they'll be able to win the game. If not, well, get used to hearing Rex Ryan.