Thursday, September 17, 2009

Jets look to back up smack in home opener with Pats

Since Rex Ryan was hired, the Jets have personified the swagger and fiery approach that sets Ryan apart from his predecessor in New York, Eric Mangini. After a dominating 24-7 win in Houston, the Jets have set their sights (and mouths) towards the Patriots.

Early in the week, Rex Ryan recorded a telephone message for all Jets season-ticket holders, urging them to make life miserable on New England and referring to the Jets as a better football team. If that wasn't enough for the Pats to post on their bulletin board, Kerry Rhodes stepped in and added fuel to the fire.

The Pro Bowl safety, who was outspoken about a Brett Favre's possible return after last season's collapse, expressed his desire to embarrass the Patriots and "make them feel bad when they leave here." Rhodes also guaranteed that the Jets would hit Tom Brady more than six times, in reference to the Bills' inability to get to Brady last weekend.

Brady's response? "Talk is cheap." Short, sweet and to the point. That's typical when it comes to Patriots players who, like this year's Jets, seem to take on the personality of their coach, the stoic Bill Bellicheat.

The Jets are a cocky bunch, especially on the defensive side of the football, and it's hard to argue with the results through the season's first week. They shut down one of the league's top offenses without two of their best defensive players, one who will be returning this weekend (Shaun Ellis).

The Patriots, however, are a confident bunch with their leader back under center. The difference between their confidence and the Jets cockiness? New England has won championships and the Jets have not, which is why Brady can get away with saying, "Talk is cheap." Time in and time out, New England backs it up on the playing field, winning 11 of the last 13 matchups with New York.

But the Jets haven't had a defense this talented and aggressive in years. They blitzed Matt Schaub silly last week, so much so that he was never able to get in rhythm with top target Andre Johnson (or any of his receivers, for that matter). Matt Schaub is no Tom Brady, but the Jets will not allow Brady to sit back in the pocket and pick them apart.

New England struggled to run the ball against Buffalo and this week won't be any different. The Jets held the Texans, who actually have a number-one back, to 38 yards on the ground last week. This game will fall squarely onto Brady's shoulders and he will face a relentless pass rush from the Jets. Expect a mistake or two from Brady, but also expect a few big plays.

Offensively, the Jets should be able to exploit the worst Patriots secondary in years if they can protect Mark Sanchez. And with second-year stud middle linebacker Jerod Mayo out of the lineup for up to six weeks, the Jets should be able to run again this week after racking up almost 200 yards on the ground in Houston.

Watch Dustin Keller and Leon Washington this week. They combined for eight catches last week and will be important check-down options for Sanchez this week, as Bellicheat is sure to confuse the rookie with multiple coverages and blitz packages. Thomas Jones may not rush for 100 yards again, but expect another 20 carries, 80-90 yards and a touchdown.

In his message to fans, Ryan said the Patriots had a better head coach and a better quarterback, but the Jets were a better team. On paper, this seems to be true. The Jets have the superior defense and running game, but so did the Bills last week. The difference is this Jets team won't blow a 24-13 lead with less than five minutes to play.

Prediction: Jets 24, Patriots 20

No comments:

Post a Comment