Monday, December 6, 2010

Strategy Talk

Since the Patriots have been so good at diagnosing the opponent's weaknesses, what will they do to expose the Jets on both sides of the ball?

Starting with the offense, they will likely start with the ball due to Rex Ryan's love of deferring the coin toss.  It would be of their benefit to use a similar approach to the Pittsburgh game since the Jets can stop the run and allow Brady to make quick, easy decisions out of shotgun formation in order to keep the defense from slapping him around early. While the Jets pose more secondary depth than Pittsburgh, they cannot get to the QB as quick without resorting to a sell the farm blitz.

To continue with the matchup based gameplans, expect Aaron Hernandez to play a bunch more tonight since he is an athletic mismatch over the linebackers and safeties and because of New York's weakness over the middle.  If Brady can establish and early rhythm, the Pats could abuse an impatient defense trying to blitz via the play action game with Gronkowski and screen game with former Jet RB Danny Woodhead.  Woodhead has the ability to break a 20 yard gain if David Harris or Bart Scott is caught napping or jumping too deep into the backfield.  Danny won't be a factor in the run game, but RB BenJarvus Green Ellis can be a factor in the red zone and later in the game to control clock.

Though the Jets run defense is stalwart, like any other defense it is susceptible to being worn down if left on the field for the large majority of the game. For the Patriots to win, controlling time of possession and keeping their leaky yet opportunistic defense off the field will be imperative. If Brady can lead three touchdown drives and keep it to one turnover or fewer, he walk away a winner.

For Rex Ryan and DC Mike Pettine, it begins and ends with making Tom Brady's life a living hell. He's going to move the chains one way or another and that's a reality you have to accept; however, if you can get into his head and have him hesitate a second too long or get rid of it too soon, he is human and can make a mistake.  While no defense has come close to saying they have Brady's number, he has been surprisingly mortal against the Jets in recent years.  Since 2006, reports that Tom Brady has had a 59.8% completion rate with 8 TDs and 6 INTs in seven games.

Wreaking havoc on #12 does mean bringing the house on every passing play. As evidenced by the second half defense in Week 2, we saw Rex mixing coverages and showing a lot of three and four man rushes. It's what helped contribute to Brady's three second half turnovers, including Jason Taylor's sack and forced fumble in which he spun by LT Matt Light out of a four man front.

That being said, the Jets cannot expect to force three turnovers this go around against a QB so protective of the ball.  Then how are the Jets supposed to get this offense off the field?  

It really comes down to two things -- sound tackling and taking away his safety valves. The Patriots love to dink and dunk their way down the field, and that sets up so many 3rd and short situations.  It will be paramount for the Jets LBs and DBs to make the immediate tackle and minimize yards after catch.  It could be the difference between three and seven points, and in a game like this, a big 3rd or 4th and short stop could prove to be the difference between winning and losing.  The best way to fight that is for the Jets to put Revis on Welker in third downs and occasionally put Cromartie on Hernandez or Gronkowski if their height and athleticism are too much for the 'backers and safeties. Additionally, an intermittent zone blitz (dropping a lineman back into coverage) could clog some of the short crosses and/or give Brady the perception that something is open when it is really not.

(Jets O strategy vs Pats D strategy coming shortly)

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