This week, the Jets take on the New England Patriots, so the “Know Thy Enemy” column is featuring no bigger enemy than the New England Patriots. We talk to Joe Soriano, editor of musketfire.com, about our upcoming game, his team, and the AFC East. Take a look:
THE JET PRESS:So, this whole division is 3-3. Are all of our teams just more mediocre than in the past, or is one team going to emerge?
MUSKET FIRE:Yeah, I really think the division is weaker than it has been, and a lot of that has to do with the regression of the New York Jets. And by regression, I mean the devastating injuries to Darrelle Revis and Santonio Holmes. Revis is clearly the best player on the Jets and is one of the most valuable players to have in the league, because he is one of the few players who you can build an entire defensive scheme around, which is what the Jets did in some respects. Without him, the secondary has been visibly much worse despite the terrific play from Antonio Cromartie. Holmes was the only true playmaker on the Jets offense, but his loss is obviously less impactful because of his inconsistency.
Buffalo is much improved from last season, but the Miami Dolphins will continue to struggle and could be the worst team in the division. I’m not sure about that yet. The pack will be separated sooner than later, and the only team that has a true chance at emerging is New England. The Bills could, but it’s going to be difficult for them with concerns about pass defense and Ryan Fitzpatrick’s penchant for inconsistency.
TJP:What’s been the difference with the Patriots this year, that has seemed to make them a bit more mortal? It’s been a long time since the Patriots have been 3-3….
MF:Well, it’s simply been bad breakdowns that have cost the Pats at the end of the game. All of their losses were agonizingly close, and the Pats were a play away from winning those games. Literally. The problem is that mistakes get magnified in clutch situations, and the Pats inability to contain the deep ball has been a tragic flaw. Chandler Jones is a terrific player, but the pass rush has been terrible outside of him. Rob Ninkovich played well against the Denver Broncos, but he isn’t a pass rushing DE. The interior contains two great run-stopping DTs, but the Pats need an effective No. 3 DT to help spell them and provide a good pass rushing source. That was supposed to be Jonathan Fanene, but health obviously had other plans.
The Pats are more mortal at this moment in time, but it’s a stretch to say that they have struggled and are what their record says they are. Coaching has also been suspected as far as adjustments go on defense, and some of the secondary’s woes have been simply due to bad scheming. I mean, whose brilliant idea was it to have Patrick Chung covering over the top? The Pats weren’t even playing prevent defense and acted like that game-losing pass was a random play in the 1st or 3rd quarter. I’m probably being too critical here given that Steve Gregory has been out, but he’s not the best cover safety either so there are obviously personnel issues at play here. And don’t get me started on Kyle Arrington starting over Ras-I Dowling.