It is always about the defense. Ever since Rex Ryan has taken over, he really hasn’t made much of an effort to hide his biased love for that side of the football. The offense is his ugly stepchild who he will occasionally make an effort to give some affection to but in reality his pride and joy, his baby, is his defense.
It will be on that pride and joy to lead the way to a Jets victory Sunday. Starting with a Rex Ryan/Mike Pettine game plan that can slow down Tom Brady and his legion of wide receivers, scatbacks, and tight ends. Similar to the playoff game, it will take a mix of zone and heavy pressure combined with getting the most value out of the Jets top player on that side of the football, Darrelle Revis.
Revis needs to be everywhere on Sunday. I would guess he will spend the bulk of his time on Wes Welker, but there will be times to slide him over to either Deion Branch or one of the Patriots tight ends. On the whole the Jets secondary needs to be physical, extremely physical. Welker, Deion Branch, and Chad Ochocinco need to be pushed around, jammed and drilled when they come over the middle.
It is all hands on deck in the secondary. Brodney Pool, Kyle Wilson, and Donald Stickland are going to spend the majority of the game on the field, not on the bench. I don’t trust anybody outside of Revis to cover either Welker or Rob Gronkowski one on one, so the Jets better be ready to double whomever he isn’t on.
In the front seven, the Jets can’t go crazy sending 7 or 8 man blitzes because Brady will target away from Revis and dice up man coverage. Calvin Pace and newly acquired Aaron Maybin need to take advantage of their pass rush opportunities. Muhammad Wilkerson needs to build off last week and continue to get a push up front.
Brady can be susceptible to interceptions. He threw four against Buffalo a couple of weeks ago and we all remember how David Harris picked him off in the playoffs, along with the two times the Jets intercepted him in week 2 of the regular season last year. The Jets will need a turnover or two and to keep their offense reasonably in check. In both of their victories over New England last season, the Jets offense scored 28 points The Patriots averaged 17.5 points in those two games.
I would say if the Jets allow 24 points or less, they are giving the team a reasonable shot at a victory. Let’s hope Rex and his baby are up to the challenge.