This is it. We don’t need a lot of superfluous adjectives to describe this one, we know what is at stake. Jets. Patriots. 5-3. First place in the AFC East. The Jets finally have a chance to put the Patriots in their rear view mirror. And they have a real chance.
The Patriots are reeling, coming off of a 2 game losing streak. The Jets, on the other hand, are flying high after 2 straight wins around the bye week, and playing their best football of the season so far since the second half of the game against the Chargers.
What do they have to do? Play Jets football. Let’s look at some keys:
OFFENSE MUST KEEP PROGRESSING
The running game is finally getting going. Shonn Greene has been running like a man on a mission the past 4 weeks, averaging 86.3 yards per contest. LaDainian Tomlinson finally got on the rushing scoreboard this season last week. In order to be effective, the Jets have to lead with the run. Forget the fact that the Patriots are not very good against the pass anymore, forget that the Jets have all these weapons through the air. Mark Sanchez is not the type of quarterback that can win by throwing the ball 50 times per game. The run needs to be effective, to give Mark the chance to work off of play action.
Mark Sanchez has reaped those benefits for the past four weeks as well, completing 68 out of 112 passes for a 60.7 % completion percentage, for 770 yards, 7 TDs, and 2 INTs, a 94.7 passer rating. In the loss against New England up in Foxboro, Sanchez threw for 2 TDs and 0 INTs, and a 105.6 passer rating. Why has Mark Sanchez been so much better the last 4 weeks? The effectiveness of the running game.
Plaxico Burress has been more involved, with 3 TDs two weeks ago, and 5 receptions for 79 yards last week. The passing game clearly benefits from the running game, as it should.
Coming into Sunday, the Jets are 4th in the league in Red Zone scoring. Tom Moore influence? I am sure, but having an effective runnig game is a big plus. Everything they do comes from the run. Keep moving forward with the running game, and the offense will prosper.
CONVERT ON THIRD DOWN
Running the football effectively makes the above principle easier. Third and 3 is a heck of a lot easier to convert than third and 13. Remember the game up in Foxboro? What was one of their biggest problems that day? Third down efficiency. 3 for 11, 27% will not cut it against the New England Patriots, no matter how they are playing.
Last week? 54% on third down. The Chargers game? 61% on third down. Extend those drives, you will have success.
GET IN TOM’S FACE
When you watch the New England Patriots play, it is clear that Tom Brady is not comfortable with pressure. I mean, no QB is, but I think the difference in Brady’s play is visible. When Tom has time, and he does that little hop in the pocket, I call it the “Brady Hop”, he picks you apart. You know what I am talking about Jets fans, that little crow hop in the pocket when Tom knows he has all the time in the world, and it makes us Jets fans sick. When you are in his face, he is slamming his helmet down, and the offense is out of sync. The Giants were in his face all game, and it made a big difference.
The Jets have the guys to do it. Jamaal Westermann had a career high 2 sacks last time these two met. Aaron Maybin has been creating his mayhem since the Jets resigned him. They have to do it.
There you have it, your preview of the big week 10 matchup. Enjoy the game, see you on the other side.