The New England Patriots held on to defeat the New York Jets 24-17 back in week 6, when neither team was living up to expectation. The Patriots were struggling early, starting 3-2 as a major disappointment; the Jets also started 3-2, but they had been exceeding every expectation.
The Jets have only won two more games since that surprising start- somehow against the playoff contender Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills- but six of their subsequent eight losses have come by a single score. They’ve been battling and shouldn’t be taken too lightly, especially when their defense is trying to get after the quarterback.
“They’re a physical group,” offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels explained about the Jets. “They play an aggressive style. They’re blitzing a little bit more than they were in the first part of the season, which doesn’t surprise me. They’re putting pressure on the quarterback and really there’s a lot of things that they do well – turning the ball over, third down. I mean, there are significant challenges here.
“Their front seven is physical. Their inside linebackers are very fast, as fast as a twosome as we’ll see all year, and the outside linebackers do a good job of setting the edge in the running game, forcing you to run kind of in a small space. They have a very disruptive defensive line.”
Brady has been dealing with injuries over the past four weeks after he took a beating against the Miami Dolphins and his play has suffered. After starting the year completing 68.4% of his passes for 8.27 yards per attempt, 26 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions for a passer rating of 111.7, he’s seen his production fall over the past four weeks to completing just 64.7% of his passes for 7.45 yards per attempt, 4 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions for a passer rating of 81.5.
The Jets are going to do whatever they can to get to Brady early in the game and throw off his production.
“They’re well-coached, they make you deal with everything,” head coach Bill Belichick said about the Jets. “They blitz, they blitz secondary players, blitz linebackers and mix in some three-man rush where you get max coverage, and those are all hard things for an offense to handle when you go anywhere from max blitz to max coverage, and kind of everywhere in between.
“They mix in their man, zone, quarters coverage, combination coverages, and just do a good job of mixing it up. It’s hard to continue to have good plays against their defense because they’ll get you on something, and you just can’t predict what they’re going to be in. They do a good job of disguising and mixing their calls up.”
Belichick compared the Jets defense to his own, by calling New York a “game plan team.” They won’t let Brady settle or get into a rhythm and they had success back in week 6, limiting Brady to a 52.6% completion rate and a passer rating of 80.7.
McDaniels added that the rookie safeties are a versatile part of what the Jets want to accomplish, as they blitz, drop into coverage, and play all over the defensive formation, so don’t be surprised if New England tries to target the young players to exploit their inexperience, while the New York cornerbacks play man-to-man coverage.
Brady’s struggles against the Jets and in recent weeks should point to Dion Lewis having a greater opportunity to shin. He gained 52 yards and a touchdown on the ground against the Jets in week 6 and he’s been a huge reason for the Patriots’ recent offensive success.
If Lewis is able to generate yardage on the ground, then that should open up the play action for Rob Gronkowski- 6 catches for 83 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Jets in week 6- to perform against the rookie New York safeties.