NY Jets: 5 keys to embarrass the Patriots
Dec 21, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) is sacked by New York Jets corner back Antonio Allen (39) and New York Jets linebacker Demario Davis (56) during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
The NY Jets are ready for war, as they are going into Foxboro to try and pull a huge upset over the undefeated Patriots. Gang Green has all the tools in place to pull it off if they follow the right formula to embarrass this team once and for all.
The NY Jets (4-1) are one of the feel good surprise teams of the 2015 NFL season. Apart from one minor hiccup against the Eagles (24-17 Week 3 loss), the Jets have played dominant football. In each of their four wins thus far, they have outscored their opponent by double digit points.
However, now its time to sink or swim. The kid gloves must be taken off, and the Jets must rise to a new challenge. When discussing the magnitude of facing the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots (5-0), it’s impossible to use too many cliches.
The Jets two upcoming games against the Patriots (10/25 away, 12/27 home) will determine if this team has what it takes to contend in the division. Sure, the Jets could probably lose both matchups and still earn a Wild Card spot. But the Jets and their fans are sick of being second fiddle (or third or fourth fiddle) in the division. It’s time to play some smashmouth football and bring it to the Patriots.
In order to finally get over the hump, in order to finally retake the AFC East starting this Sunday, here are five keys to ground the Patriots this upcoming week.
Next: 5. Put Gronk in a corner
Sep 20, 2015; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) runs after a catch as Buffalo Bills free safety Corey Graham (20) pursues during the second half at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Patriots beat the Bills 40-32. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
5. Put Gronk in a corner
Regardless of how one feels about the Patriots, there is simply no denying the fact that tight end Rob Gronkowski is an absolute beast. The average NFL tight end does not put up wide receiver numbers. But Gronkowski has never been average. At 6’6″ and 265 lbs., he is a massive end zone target and consistent safety blanket for Brady.
The three time Pro Bowler has already posted four seasons with double digit touchdown receptions and has shown no signs of slowing down anytime soon. He currently is ranked among the top three on his team in receptions (3rd), receiving yards (2nd), average yards per reception (1st) and touchdown receptions (1st).
There simply is no stopping Gronkowski. But if the Jets can limit his production, possibly through the use of double teams or creative coverage schemes (ie. employing free safety Marcus Gilchrist in coverage), then they may be able to keep the scoring down and the game within reach. Shutting him down would force the Patriots into a corner they won’t be able to get out of.
Next: 4. Surprise Patriots with special teams
Oct 18, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Washington Redskins defensive back Jeron Johnson (20) blocks a punt by New York Jets punter Ryan Quigley (4) in the second half against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. The Jets won 34-20. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
4. Surprise Patriots with special teams
On the offensive and defensive sides of the ball, the 2015 Jets have thrived. The team currently ranks in the top ten in points allowed per game (1st) and points scored per game (7th). Considering that the team has historically struggled offensively, that second stat is particularly encouraging.
However, what has not been encouraging are the Jets’ frequent gaffes on special teams this season. Against the Eagles in Week 3, the team surrendered an 89-yard punt return touchdown to Darren Sproles. The Jets went on to lose 24-17.
Facing the Redskins last week, the Jets’ special teams unit made another clueless mistake. In the fourth quarter of a game they were dominating, the Jets failed to get enough players on the field in time for an attempted punt. The Redskins blocked the Ryan Quigley punt and recovered it for a garbage time touchdown.
The Patriots are not the Redskins or Eagles. If the Jets give points to the Patriots via special teams mistakes, they will not be leaving Foxboro with a win. But if they can come out the gates swinging and have a huge game from their special teams unit, it’ll shock the Patriots thanks to the Jets getting great field positioning and possibly points added if all goes according to plan.
Next: 3. Shock the Patriots in the turnover battle
Oct 4, 2015; London, ENG; New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis (24) catches an interception during the second half of the game against the Miami Dolphins at Wembley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports
3. Shock the Patriots in the turnover battle
Regardless of the teams playing or even the level of competition, consistently winning the turnover battle is an essential key to long term success. For a Jets team that still relies on defense as its bread and butter, it’s imperative that they force turnovers against the Patriots. The Jets’ defense has already forced 15 turnovers this season, third best in the league. Additionally, the team has managed to limit mistakes on the offensive side of the ball.
The Jets’ early season success is largely attributable to their +5 turnover differential. Baring a few miscues (like a four turnover debacle in a loss to the Eagles), the Jets have played significantly smarter football in 2015 as compared to previous seasons.
Last week against the hapless Redskins, the Jets committed three first half turnovers but rallied in the second half to win. If the Jets want to really turn this game into their favor, they will have to rattle Brady to the point where he commits mistakes that lead to turnovers that will have the Jets convert into points. If the Jets can rattle Brady thanks to their defensive front, he’ll rush his throws and against guys like Darrelle Revis, that will come back to haunt him.
Next: 2. Dominate time of possession
Oct 18, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets running back Chris Ivory (33) carries the ball as Washington Redskins safety Kyshoen Jarrett (30) defends during the third quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
2. Dominate time of possession
The Patriots’ defense has been a good unit, ranking 10th in points allowed per game this season. However, no one talks about defense when discussing the Patriots. The team is an offensive behemoth, leading the league with an astounding 36.6 points per game.
Although the Jets’ defense has been equally impressive, even the best defenses can become worn down late in games. In order to keep the Jets defensive players fresh and to minimize the damage the Patriots’ offense can inflict, it’s imperative that the Jets dominate time of possession.
As luck would have it, the Jets have a punishing running back who can help the offense grind out long drives. Chris Ivory has rushed for at least 90 yards in three of his first four games. If he can post a similar performance in New England, the Jets may stand a puncher’s chance against the Patriots. If Ivory goes off, they will march up and down the field all over the Patriots to embarrass their defensive efforts.
Next: 1. Bring the heat to Brady
Oct 11, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) is sacked by Dallas Cowboys linebacker Rolando McClain (55) at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
1. Bring the heat to Brady
Whenever Tom Brady has an off day, NFL “experts” are quick to report on his imminent regression. Well, to the chagrin of Jets, Bills and Dolphins fans everywhere, Brady will not be retiring anytime soon. With 14 touchdown passes, one interception, and an absurd 70.6 completion percentage in his first five games this season, Brady is poised for another career year.
In order to limit Brady and the Patriots’ offense, the Jets should take a cue from the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys entered the second half of their 2015 matchup against the Patriots trailing only 13-3. The Cowboys defense was the key to their early success, sacking Brady five times in the first half.
If the Sons of Anarchy (Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson and Damon Harrison) and newcomer Leonard Williams can frequently find their way into the Patriots’ backfield, this may be the year the Jets finally retake the division. To try and replicate what the Cowboys’ defense did with a Gang Green twist will bring the heat to Brady and put him in a permanent discomfort zone.
Next: Why the Patriots have the advantage