Mark Sanchez was 21 of 30 for 220 yards and 3 TDs, while the Jets put up a solid 136 yards on the ground. The Patriots run defense was especially mauled in the second half when the Jets offense began clicking on all cylinders.
What is different this time around for the Patriots from a personnel perspective?
Brandon Meriweather is back to being nearly an every down player, while Kyle Arrington has been a fixture at RCB since Darius Butler was torched and taunted in the first matchup. Jermaine Cunningham has also grown a lot since September and figures to play a more prominent role this time around.
The big question on defense is whether or not Jonathan Wilhite can get his hip healthy by next Monday night. Wilhite’s return will free Patrick Chung from nickelback duties and allow him to do what he does best, which is a little bit of everything.
With the Jets now having Santonio Holmes in the fold this could change how the Patriots choose to defend them. My early thought is that we’ll see a lot more balance out of the Patriots defense this time around. The Jets have not been afraid to let Mark Sanchez throw the ball this year and everyone knows the Pats pass defense is their biggest weakness. Expect a lot of three receiver sets forcing the Patriots to pick their poison.
The sub package we saw last time against the Jets was the “Big Dime“…
Wright – Wilfork – Pryor
Mayo – Banta-Cain
McCourty – Wilhite – Sanders – Butler
Meriweather – Chung
This allowed the Pats to maintain a presence against the run with Wilfork in the middle even on likely passing downs. We could see even more of this, but with Mike Wright and Myron Pryor both missing the Lions game, their return will be vital. Missing two veteran defensive lineman who are also their best pass rushers would be tough for New England to overcome.
Offensively the Patriots are balanced and no longer relying on the deep threat of Randy Moss to move the ball. The short, quick receivers are a matchup advantage over Antonio Cromartie. Cromartie has the length and long speed to cover Moss, but quick cutting receivers like Welker and Branch give him fits. Just watch Welker’s touchdown from week 2 when he was lined up against Cromartie.
Both teams are confident and will move the ball. Again it will come down to turnovers. Let’s not forget that Tom Brady had a dreadful second half against the Jets last time. Two third down passes to Randy Moss were picked off and a third was incomplete by a mile. Brady will surely be looking to make up for that performance.