Ten final thoughts on Patriots-Jets
|10.20.12 at 11:21 pm ET|
1. Just because we didn’t include the information in our weekly roundup of offensive opportunities: The Patriots ran 85 plays last week against the Seahawks, and 23 of them were in no-huddle (28 percent). By our count, the Patriots have gone no-huddle 32 percent of the time this season. Expect the Jets to try and do whatever it takes to slow things down — New York linebacker Calvin Pace said only half-jokingly that the Patriots’ offense is ‘borderline illegal’ — and that includes reminding the officials about the provisions that allow defenses to react and adapt to changes made in the offensive lineup. ‘It’s going to be a major point of contention before (our) game with the officials to make sure that they know the rule is when they substitute we’re permitted to substitute,’ New York defensive coordinator Rich Pettine told the New York Daily News.
2. Our favorite stat from Nuggetpalooza this week, and something to really look out for on Sunday: The Patriots have run left 96 times this year, the most in the league. Left side rushes make up 44 percent of all Pats’ run plays this season (6th highest percentage), compared to 24 percent up the middle (24th) and 32 percent to the right side (19th). On those lefty rushes, New England has averaged 4.9 yards per carry (11th in the league), compared to 3.4 up the middle (18th) and 3.9 to the right (21st). For what it’s worth, the Jets run defense has been gashed pretty good this season, especially to the offense’s left, where they’ve given up a 5.4 yard average, the fourth-highest total in the league.
3. When Stevan Ridley has run for 100 or more yards, the Patriots are 3-0. When he’s been under the century mark, they’re 0-3. Ridley had 125 yards (Tennessee), 106 yards (Buffalo) and 151 yards (Denver) in New England’s three wins, and 71 yards (Arizona), 37 yards (Baltimore) and 34 yards (Seattle) in the three losses.
4. It was interesting to see the Patriots decide to make Wednesday’s practice a walkthrough — as ESPN colleague Mike Reiss noted, it was perhaps an attempt to manage the team’s health on the heels of a physical loss to the Seahawks and what will likely be another physical game this week against the Jets. Regardless, I can’t remember another time the Patriots have used a Wednesday practice during the regular season to engage in a walkthrough.
5. To make room for Terrell Suggs on the roster, the Ravens released the 6-foot-3, 250-pound Sergio Kindle, which likely brings down a short but eventful career in Baltimore for the former second-round pick. It will be interesting to see if anyone takes a chance on Kindle, a highly-touted pass rusher out of Texas who never really lived up to his rep in the pros. He was taken with the 43rd overall pick in the 2010 draft — one pick after Rob Gronkowski — but had several off-field incidents, that included multiple arrests for drunk driving and a fall down the stairs that resulted in a fractured skull. It’s unlikely that he’d be able to have an impact this season, but I could see a team grabbing him now and stashing him on IR for the rest of the season, getting him in their system for an extended stretch and then seeing what they have when spring workouts roll around.
6. It sounds an awful lot like gamesmanship, but the Jets believe they were able to go a step deeper in their preparation for the Patriots this week, as Rex Ryan said he was able to get some information from Tim Tebow on the play calling tendencies of Josh McDaniels. McDaniels and Tebow were together in Denver for a stretch, and Ryan said he was able to pick Tebow’s brain about what McDaniels likes to call. Ryan also said that Tebow played the role of Tom Brady on the Jets scout team, trying to give New York’s No. 1 defense a look at what they should expect this week.
7. The Patriots added linebacker Jeff Tarpinian to the 53-man roster on Saturday. Don’t look for Tarpinian to play a major role on defense — instead, he’s likely in there to provide depth on special teams. New England will be without linebacker Tracy White on Sunday against the Jets (he’s out with a foot injury), and it’s reasonable to assume he’ll work on White’s spot on special teams, as well as provide depth at linebacker on defense. (To make room on the roster, the Patriots released offensive lineman Matt Tennant, who appears to be on his way to winning this year’s Ross Ventrone Award — he’s been signed and released twice this season by New England.)
8. Talked a little bit about it here, but it bears repeating: the Jets and Patriots continue to try and force each other to evolve. New York’s pressure played a sizable role in New England altering its’ passing game in 2009 and 2010. Now, with the inclusion of Gronkowski, it’s the Jets who have made some changes, bringing in big safety Laron Landry in hopes of corralling Gronkowski. While they won’t be going head-to-head all afternoon, I’ll be interested to see how much Landry can slow down the big tight end.
9. One thing that struck me from my conversation with an NFL scout this week was when he told me that no matter what problems the Patriots might be having, he has faith that they’ll be able to figure them out. ‘It’s important to remember that the Patriots have always done a good job of getting better as the season goes along,’ he told me. ‘They had the same issues last year but played well enough in the end to get to the Super Bowl.’ Historically, few teams have done a better job of self-scouting and correcting mistakes as the season goes along than the Patriots. That’s not to say they will eliminate all their problems, but there are ways of figuring out how to paper over deficiencies as the season goes on. It will be interesting to see how that gets worked out as the season continues.
10. Here’s how I think things are going to shake out this week: