Why things will be different this time
|11.19.09 at 11:50 am ET|
FOXBORO – When first the Patriots and Jets met this season in Week 2, the Jets were coming off a very impressive 24-7 win over Houston in the first game of the Rex Ryan Era.
Meanwhile, the Patriots needed a near-miraculous ending to finish off Buffalo, 25-24, at home in their season opener.
And in Week 2, the Jets were still riding their momentum in a vehicle that still had a “new-car” smell. And Tom Brady was still finding his way back and had to face the Jets without the go-to Wes Welker, who was out injured.
And it showed. Brady was not sacked, but was either hit or hurried 10 times, completed just 23-of-47 passes and threw one interception. Corner Darrelle Revis provided tight coverage on Randy Moss, with some help over the top, limiting No. 81 to just four catches for only 24 yards.
With Kris Jenkins plugging the middle and applying pressure on Brady, the Jets posted a 16-9 win over the Pats at the Meadowlands.
Fast forward nine weeks, and the 6-3 Patriots have restored their place atop the AFC East and, while Sunday night still lingers for some, they are in control of the division. Add to that, Brady has found his passing groove with Moss and Welker and things look promising.
Things are much different, too, for the Jets. They have dropped five of six. They have lost Kris Jenkins and star running back Leon Washington to season-ending injuries. Their rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez has hit a rookie wall, and their coach was driven to tears on Monday, imploring his team not to quit on themselves.
How will it be different on Sunday at Gillette Stadium? Let’s start with the Brady-Moss combo. With Wes Welker available, Brady can go to him more often if the Jets continue to put all efforts on shutting down Moss.
“Really, they played a lot of over the top coverage with Revis and [Kerry] Rhodes,” Belichick explained this week. “They played over the top of him quite a bit, not always, but quite a bit. Revis is a good player. He matches up against basically every team’s best receiver. He’s tall for a corner. He has good length, good size, very good ball skills, runs well, good quickness, good on the jam, good tackler, good run-force player. He’s a good, solid all-around player. He doesn’t have any weaknesses.”
After the September shutdown, Moss said he could play shut-down corner coverage if he had Brandon Meriweather helping over the top all day.
“If that’s what Randy thinks about that’s what he thinks,” Revis said. “That’s his mindset of what he thinks of me. I know I have to go out there and do my job, and that’s plain and simple. He knows I’ll be covering him and I know that. So [Moss] knows that, and the Patriots know that, the Jets know. It’s back and forth. It’s back and forth, it’s vice versa. Everybody knows that that’s supposed to be the match up during the week. Like I said, I control my destiny and what I want to do as a player as in covering guys. I look forward to it. I play against best receivers every week, so after this game it’s on to the next. So this game is to focus on Randy Moss.”
Welker has had at least nine catches in each of his last four games and has 52 catches and 569 yards and four touchdowns in his six games since returning from a knee injury.
“Wes is a good player, but I thought Julian [Edelman] did a good job,” Belichick said. “Julian played in the slot that game, made some plays. I thought he did a pretty good job playing in there. Wes Welker is Wes Welker. Kris Jenkins is Kris Jenkins. I’m not saying anybody can replace them, but I thought Julian did a good job. I’m glad we have Julian. I’m glad we have Wes.”
Brady certainly is happy to have his favorite possession receiver back on the field.
“We always miss Wes, he’s one of the best players on our team, one of the best in the league,” Brady said. “Whenever he’s not playing, you have to make up for it in other ways. Julian stepped in there the last time and did a good job against them. But there’s only one Wes Welker out there.”
With no Jenkins in the middle, the Patriots won’t have to face one of the toughest nose tackles in the game. But still, 6-foot-3, 325-pound Sione Pouha will be there clogging the middle.
“I don’t think you can replace a player like that, but I think Pouha’s done a good job for them in there,” Belichick said. “He’s a big physical guy. They rolled him in there anyway — their defensive line, they kind of had a little bit of a rotation system. All those guys play, so you have to be ready for all of them. Jenkins is a good player, don’t get me wrong, but all those guys have played and they’re still pretty stout.”
Expect Brady and company to feel more comfortable attacking the Jets defense this team as opposed to the other way around in Week 2.
“I’d like to think that we’re a better team now than we were in the second week of the year,” Brady said. “We’ve made some good improvements. But this team really challenges us. It was probably our lowest output of the season in points, yards, production, third downs, all the way across the board. We had a bunch of yards in penalties, also. They’re a good team and they challenge us in a lot of ways. Playing them one time, I think that’s going to help you, but we can’t play much worse than we played. There’s got to be some saving grace in that.”
The Jets lost Washington, but have added wideout Braylon Edwards.
“I think he’s a big factor for them in the passing game,” Belichick said. “I think it’s given them a lot of balance in the passing game with [Jerricho] Cotchery, and of course they still use [David] Clowney some. And [Dustin] Keller is a big factor for them. It just provides more options for them. Edwards is a guy that can do it all. I mean, he can make the tough catches. He’s a big target. He’s a guy that can go down the field and get the ball. He’s a good red area receiver, so I think he’s added a lot to the passing game.”
“It’s really hard to replace Leon, obviously,” Ryan said. “You try to and you have about five or six guys trying to replace him, do all the things he does. It’s really hurt our return game. He’s also one of the most dangerous backs in the league when he’s running with it as a receiver. He’s a tough blocker. So, when you look at the old games between the Jets and the Patriots, obviously, he was probably the number one weapon that we had. So, he’s been a huge loss for us.”
And following a Week 1 win, word came out that Ryan had left a message with his season ticket holders to make life miserable for the Patriots offense. He succeeded. Maybe he knows home field advantage belongs to the Pats this week or maybe it’s that his team is 4-5 but there’s not as much talk coming out of New York this time.
“My thing about not kissing Belichick’s rings was a compliment, but it was taken differently,” Ryan said. “But it’s the truth – you can’t beat somebody unless you believe that you can and we believe we can. We did beat them already and we’re coming there with that mission. It doesn’t matter what the betting public says or anybody else says. We’re coming to New England to win the game and we expect to win.”
But the five losses in six weeks has dampened Ryan’s confidence, which spilled over into tears on Monday.
“The thing that’s amazing to me is that we still had opportunities in every one of those games to win games,” Ryan added. “We’ve basically been beat on the last play of the game in four games. So, if people think we’re going to be pushovers, they have another thing coming.”
Well, good to see, some things haven’t changed.
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