Inspired by a business trip to New England which I am currently taking part in, this week’s 12 pack is going to focus on the Patriots: what the Jets can do to get back to beating them, what New England has added this off-season, and a few more items pertaining to the team we love to hate. Make sure to give myself and staff writers Chris Gross and Mike Donnelly on Twitter, Turn On The Jets a follow on Facebook.
1. Maybe it is because I am only 25 years old and I’d love to hear older Jets fans opinion on this, but isn’t the divisional round win in New England the second greatest win in franchise history behind Super Bowl III? Beyond that game, the Jets have only won three other times to put themselves in an AFC Championship Game. I know beating Jacksonville and San Diego wasn’t as sweet as ending the Patriots season and I am assuming the 1982 win over Los Angeles in the strike shortened season wasn’t either. Considering the circumstances around that game (the Monday Night massacre, being such heavy underdogs), how they won (smacking crap out of Brady and visibly rattling him), it doesn’t get any better for a Jets fan outside of a Super Bowl win, right?
2. On the other end of the spectrum, the Patriots thrashing of the Jets on Sunday Night Football last season ended the Jets as a serious contender in 2011. Yes, I know they were still alive after that but people forget how vulnerable the Patriots looked heading into that game and how the Jets had just rolled Buffalo. It was a clear shot for the Jets to take a stranglehold of the division in their own building and they were embarrassed in the second half and ran off the field. The Patriots made it apparent that the Jets had become too slow and reactive on defense and lacked any kind of firepower on offense to take advantage of a defense with holes in it.
3. What was even more frustrating about last season’s meeting with the Patriots is when you consider how New England beat them in their first meeting. They ran the ball down the Jets throat as Rex Ryan stuck with a defensive back heavy lineup too frequently and on offense they dared the Jets to throw the ball on the field and Brian Schottenheimer refused to. In the second meeting, the Jets adjusted to stop the run and Tom Brady threw all over them and offense the Jets tried to open it up and were overmatched. Bill Belichick was completely out-coached by Rex Ryan in the playoff loss but worked him over last season as revenge.
4. This season we are treated to Jets/Patriots on Thanksgiving. The Jets have been hit or miss on holidays as of late. In 2006, they all but clinched a playoff spot by beating Miami on Christmas as I happily cheered on in my Leon Washington jersey. In 2007, they were humiliated by Dallas on Thanksgiving as I purposely spilled cranberry sauce on my Kerry Rhodes jersey. In 2010, they beat Cincinnati on Thanksgiving as we laughed in our Darrelle Revis jersey at Terrell Owens and Chad Johnson trying to get open. Last year, the Jets ruined our Christmas by losing to the Giants on December 24th and propelling their Super Bowl run.
5. New England added some nice pieces in the draft this year, by grabbing Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower in the first round, two players many Jets fans coveted. Jones will provide a needed pass rush boost after New England lost Mark Anderson in free agency. Hightower has the skill set to step into being an every down player immediately. Belichick has made his share of errors in recent drafts but it is hard to see either Jones or Hightower being a flop.
6. Brandon Lloyd is going to be a playmaker in New England’s system. They badly needed an outside threat who could stretch the field and Lloyd fits the bill, particularly with his comfort in Josh McDaniels offense. It will be hard for him to rack up a high amount of catches with Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and Wes Welker likely prioritized in front of him but his yards per catch should be impressive.
7. The Patriots added Steve Gregory and our every own Marquice Cole to their secondary. These aren’t big name additions but they are the type of players who will end up being major contributors. Remember James Ihedigbo last year?
8. New England deserves to be heavy favorite in the AFC East this season. The Jets must find a way to beat them head to head, once if not twice to keep themselves in the mix for a division title. It will be on Rex Ryan to bounce back after beating picked apart by Brady and Belichick last season because the Jets have the talent on defense to at least slow down the Pats attack. On offense, Tony Sparano needs to control the clock with his running game but not be shy about taking chances on the Pats questionable secondary when the time calls for it.
9. How to stop the Patriots tight ends this year? The Jets lack one player who can cover either Gronkowski or Hernandez. It will have to be combination of new additions Yeremiah Bell, LaRon Landry, Demario Davis and Josh Bush. The Jets could also slide Revis or Cromartie inside on certain situations but ultimately the safeties are going to have to step up.
10. What is your favorite Jets play against the Patriots of the Rex Ryan era? I will go with either Calvin Pace nearly ripping Brady’s arm off, Braylon Edwards dragging half their defense into the end-zone or Shonn Greene rocking them to sleep…unfortunately none occurred last year and all occurred in one game.
11. When projecting New England’s win total this year, how could you put them at anything under 11, considering the consistency of their success?
12. I don’t care what anybody says Buffalo, the Jets remain New England’s biggest threat to a divisional title repeat.