Jets vs. Patriots: Drawing Up a Game Plan for New York

Erik Frenz@ErikFrenzSenior Writer IOctober 19, 2012

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 16:  Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York Jets celebrates with his mother Olga Macias after the Jets defeated the Patriots 28 to 21 in their 2011 AFC divisional playoff game at Gillette Stadium on January 16, 2011 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The New York Jets are underdogs to the New England Patriots. What else is new?

This time is different, though. The Jets don't have cornerback Darrelle Revis to help disrupt Tom Brady's reads. Their front seven is not getting the pressure that head coach Rex Ryan is used to seeing. The Jets offense has fallen in and out of rhythm, and it has struggled to implement the ground-and-pound mentality the Jets were so fond of for years.

All this has the makings of a blowout, but the Jets can avoid that and even come out with a win if they do things the right way.

It'll still take a solid game plan to beat the Patriots. Here are some thoughts on how they can do it.

As Safe As Possible, With Deep Shots Sprinkled In

This is a topic worthy of its own article (or two, or three), but it's not been just the safeties that have been exposed in the passing game. The big plays being given up through the air are a team effort, and while the Jets should definitely try their chances on a few deep balls, there could be more opportunities to be had against the Patriots defense.

As bad as the secondary has been, it hasn't been a result of cornerback Devin McCourty. The third-year first-round pick has struggled in spots this year, but has played much better overall.

According to, the Patriots rank eighth against No. 1 receivers and 11th against No. 2s, but dead last against every other kind of receiver. They are also 20th against tight ends and 30th against running backs by site's metric.

Peyton Manning had a shot at a big play to tight end Jacob Tamme that barely missed the mark, but other quarterbacks have not missed that mark. Jared Cook picked up 35 yards on a deep pass while Dont'a Hightower hung out underneath (circled in red).

Linebackers have been left alone in coverage on tight ends quite a bit this year, but the Patriots don't have excellent cover linebackers.

There's an opportunity for Dustin Keller to make good on that "Patriots killer" nickname for the first time in a long time—he has been held to three or fewer catches in each of the past four showdowns between the Patriots and the Jets, his last big game coming in Week 2 of 2010 when he had seven catches for 115 yards and a score.

Taking shots will be necessary, but at the same time, the Jets have to be wary of turnovers. Jets head coach Rex Ryan alluded to turnovers as the strength of the Patriots defense earlier this week (per ESPN):

"I think their defense doesn't necessarily get the credit they deserve," he said. "Every year they get criticized for their pass defense, what they rank, and all that. But it's not about that.

"The Patriots play complementary football. Obviously, you have the No. 1 offense in all of football—scoring offense, total offense, everything-else offense—so what you try to do is win the turnover battle. Their record when they win the turnover battle is phenomenal. That's something they do and I think it goes overlooked."

Rex Ryan also pointed out that the Patriots are 39-4 when they win the turnover battle since 2008.

As good as the Patriots' record is when they get turnovers, the Jets' record is unflattering when they lose the turnover battle (5-16 under Rex Ryan), but impressive when they win it (20-4). Beyond all of that, Joe Caporoso of raises a great point of his own:

@erikfrenz When Sanchez protects the ball against NE. They have beat them. 7 TD and 0 INTs in their 3 wins

— Joe Caporoso (@TurnOnTheJets) October 19, 2012

The Jets must strike a balance between attacking the clear weakness of the Patriots defense without opening themselves up to the risks of losing the turnover battle to the Patriots.

Weather the Storm

The Patriots will get their yards, and there will be times when the Jets defense will wonder if it can ever get a stop on these guys, but if the Jets remain patient, they'll get those opportunities.

Much of the success for the Patriots offense has come in the no-huddle. The benefits are multiple, in that it forces an opponent to keep its personnel on the field and that it has the potential to catch it off-guard if the Patriots can snap the ball before the defense is set, but there's another benefit too.

Without Revis, Rex Ryan has put his defensive expertise to work in an effort to confuse quarterbacks with pre-snap movement and adjustments. For the most part, that will be on the shelf when the Patriots go no-huddle.

Tom Brady's struggles late in games may seem like a manufactured storyline, but stats tell us his struggles are very real now (via ESPN):

In the past 3½ years, the Patriots have more losses by seven points or fewer (12) than they did in Brady's first seven seasons combined (10).

Since he returned from injury, the Patriots are a .500 team in close games. ...when the game comes down to the final minutes, Brady seems to have lost the magic.

In New England's three losses, Brady is 6-for-17 for 65 yards in the fourth quarter and the score within seven points.

The running game may seem unstoppable, and the Patriots rank third in the league with 99 runs of four yards or more. However, they have been stuffed at or behind the line of scrimmage on 42 runs, which ranks sixth-most in the NFL.

Outside of a 31-point surge against the Bills' NFL-worst scoring defense, the Patriots have scored just 21 points in the fourth quarter and 4.2 points per game in the final 15 minutes, which would rank in the bottom five in the league.

If the Jets can hang around headed into the fourth quarter, they could easily pick up the win. The Jets just need to be patient in order to give themselves that opportunity.

Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless specified otherwise, all quotes are obtained firsthand.


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