Know Thy Enemy: Week 2: New York Jets vs New England Patriots


Jul 30, 2013; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick (left) talks with tight end Rob Gronkowski (right) during training camp at the practice fields of Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

It’s a short turnaround as we all know, so too is a short turnaround for this week’s installment of “Know Thy Enemy”. This week, we talk to a good buddy of our website, Joe Soriano. He edits the site geared to that team up in New England, Musketfire.

Hopefully you can bear it, us talking to a guy that writes about the New England Patriots for a few minutes.  Ha, ha, I kid of course.  Joe is actually a terrific writer, and he has a great staff.  If I ever have occasion to search for information about his team, Musketfire is the first place I go.  Please check out his site at the link above.

Take a look at our conversation:

THE JET PRESS: That was a close one in Buffalo.  Was it just working out the kinks, or in your mind, was it a sign of problems with the Pats going forward?

MUSKETFIRE: My opinion on the Patriots hasn’t changed as a result of that game, other than the fact that I realize that there are going to be more growing pains than initially thought. I think some of us simply had unrealistic expectations of how fast players like Kenbrell Thompkins would gel. My main concerns about this team lie in injuries, because having both Shane Vereen and Zach Sudfeld potentially out puts a strain on the Patriots offense. Those two are versatile weapons, and losing them hurts the passing offense schematically and the entire offense as far as production goes (Vereen’s injury is a significant blow, but it isn’t catastrophic by any means). The Patriots issues are the same as they were before the game, and the things that killed the Pats were fixable and usually infrequent; fumbles.

TJP: One guy that has killed the Jets, as you know, is Rob Gronkowski.  Is he going to play on Thursday night, to your knowledge?

MF: I don’t think Gronk will play, and I hope he doesn’t play. The Patriots need to give Gronkowski another week of rest before trotting him out in Week  3 against the Buccaneers, and they shouldn’t stretch the timeline. It’s a short week, and I think it’s a good idea to stick with Week 3 as the timeline, because that’s what reports in August had it tabbed as. Definitely don’t rule out Gronk for Week 2, though, and there is a heightened chance that he will play with Zach Sudfeld suffering from a pulled hamstring. We don’t know how severe Sudfeld’s injury is, but his absence would give the Pats just one active TE (Michael Hoomanawanui). That could force the Pats to play Gronkowski, so this is definitely a situation to monitor closely. And Gronk kills everyone, not just the Jets.

Sep 8, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (96) reacts after sacking Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman (not pictured) during the first quarter of a game at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

TJP: You can say a lot of things about the Jets, but one part of their game that is proving to be stout is the defensive front seven.  How do you see the Pats offensive line stacking up?

MF: Hey Alan, you know I’m a straight shooter and won’t diss the Jets without reason. I am a big fan of the Jets defensive line, and it really looks like one of the best 3-4 fronts in the league if Sheldon Richardson can continue to do what he did against the Bucs. He looked like more of a disruptive pass rusher coming out of college, but he really made his mark against the run on Sunday. Muhammad Wilkerson shouldn’t have guaranteed victory on WFAN, but I do like his confidence (nobody should ever go into a game thinking they will lose) and love his playing ability even more. I mean, it would take a real Jets-hater to call Wilkerson anything but a great player, and I wouldn’t object to any “elite” labels thrown in. Kendrick Ellis is a big man in the middle, but Damon Harrison looks like an even better player; that’s a great “problem” to have. Harrison got the start and looks downright nasty against the run, and I can’t wait to watch how elite run-blocking (but not pass blocking) C Ryan Wendell fares against him. This is going to be one great matchup to watch, and I’m glad that you brought it up; people need to watch this as the game unfolds because it is going to be key.

TJP: How can the Jets attack the Patriots in your mind to keep it close, as the Bills did?  Where are they most vulnerable?

MF: Right now, I’m not really sure where the Patriots are the most vulnerable at this point. If Stevan Ridley gets benched again due to fumbling, then the Patriots rushing attack is going to be in dire straights. The Jets run defense is way better than the Bills version, and the Pats won’t have Shane Vereen to fall back on. If neither Brandon Bolden nor LeGarrette Blount can get it done, then the Pats will be forced to throw the ball a lot. With no Vereen and potentially no Sudfeld, things could get dicey if the Jets cover the middle of the field like they did last year when these two teams met for the first time. In fact, I see this as being a close, ugly, rivalry battle akin to that October game. And yes, I have the Pats winning, too, but this should be a close one.

TJP: We have to finish up with a game prediction…

MF: Yeah, I’ve become a bit more cynical than I was to start the season, but that’s actually more about the short-term prospects than the long-term prospects of this Patriots team. They are still a legit Super Bowl contender, but they are dealing with a couple of injuries and will have plenty of growing pains early in the season. We’ll see some of those pains continue, but the Patriots are just too good on STs, look much improved on defense, and have Tom Brady. I don’t pick against Brady in close game against, let’s be honest here, worse opponents, so I have the Pats squeaking out a 20-17 victory. They just need to focus on getting a W and work on getting the young players to gel. It might take another game-winning field goal from Stephen Gostkowski to win it. I really can’t see the Pats losing this game, but I also can’t see this being a game with a significant margin of victory; this team still has things to patch up, and we won’t be seeing something resembling the last game these two teams played on Thursday night.

Thanks to our guy Joe Soriano for taking the time.  Check him out at Musketfire, Joe is a great football fan, fair, and does a great job with the website.