The Jets secondary will have their hands full taming the Patriots wideouts on Sunday. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
So much talk has surrounded the Jets’ upcoming match-up with the rival New England Patriots this Sunday. The whole “Spygate” incident and whether the head coaches of these two teams will actually shake each other’s hand after the game are the hot topics looking over this game.
However, what really matters about this week’s showdown is the action that will unfold on the field at Gillette Stadium, and part of that action is the match-up between the Jets’ secondary and the Patriots’ receiving corps.
On the one end is Gang Green’s secondary and overall pass defense, which currently ranks 11th by allowing an average of 208.3 yards per game. Also, out of the 13 interceptions accumulated by the Jets, the secondary has accounted for 11 of those picks, with Kerry Rhodes leading the team with five.
On the other end is the juggernaut that is the Patriots offense and their prolific wide-outs. New England’s receivers, consisting of the likes of Randy Moss and Wes Welker, have been a major factor in their team’s pursuit of perfection. Offensively they are ranked first in points, yards, and passing averages, and they account for 42 of the Patriots’ 45 receiving touchdowns thrown by Tom Brady (19 of which are caught by Moss, of course). Throw in the Pats’ ability to make something big out of a simple play, and it looks like a steep mountain for New York to climb.
“They’ve got good catching-run ability, whether it’s Welker, [RB Kevin] Faulk, [TE Ben] Watson, Moss, [WR Donte] Stallworth, right on down the line,” said Jets head coach Eric Mangini. “They all can catch that short one and turn it into a lot more.”
The aforementioned aren’t the only ones that the Jets should show concern over. Should LB Mike Vrabel get involved with the offense in certain situations, it becomes a red flag and the Jets should not let it throw them off.
“He catches the ball well, mainly in goal line and short yardage,” said CB Darrelle Revis. “He’s got good hands and makes plays as well.”
Overall, the Jets secondary is the best thing going for this defensive unit. However, the wide receivers of the New England Patriots are a large and highly important fraction of the well-tuned machine that is their offense.
“They’re a great corps. Their record says it all,” said DB David Barrett.
The Jets secondary will need to be on point the whole game in order to keep up with and stop the opposing passing game if they want to pull off the biggest upset of the 2007 NFL season.
Sutton press conference
After today’s practice, Bob Sutton held his informal biweekly press conference in front of the members of the media. Among the topics the defensive coordinator discussed was the preparation for New England and their dangerous wide receivers.
“It’s a great challenge for the individual DBs to come in and play these guys, but I think collectively, it’s even a bigger challenge. We have to really be functioning as a unit out there to make this thing work,” he said.
Another topic of interest was Patriots RB Laurence Maroney. While the Patriots are explosive overall on offense, they are so at the expense of Maroney and the run game. The second-year veteran from the University of Minnesota has 529 rushing yards and only two touchdowns this season. Nevertheless, there is respect for Maroney as far as Coach Sutton is concerned.
”We have a lot of respect for Maroney, we always thought he was a guy that was a slashy running back,” he said.
Sunday’s game will feature a potential match-up between the Jets’ heralded rookie Darrelle Revis and the man he admired growing up, the Patriots’ Randy Moss. Week One saw the two facing each other at times, so this could be a sequel of sorts. Even so, it’s all a matter of when it will come.
“There’s a lot of different packages on both sides of the ball, a lot of different spots that both guys have played,” Mangini said. “So we’ll have to see how that works out and where they end up, what spots they end up in.”
As far as Revis is concerned, that kind of familiarity with an opponent such as Moss is a good thing.
“It’s good to play somebody again for the second time around because you know what kind of moves they can make.”
Coles wins award
Coach Mangini announced in his press conference that Laveranues Coles was this year’s winner of the Ed Block Courage Award. The award is given to a player that shows outstanding courage. With the way he has fought through injury this season in order to contribute to the Jets, there was no one else that was more deserving for the award.
“To be able to play on Sunday and make the types of plays that he’s made, fighting through some difficult things, is just a good example of his approach and professionalism,” said the coach.
The team held their practice session today outside on the lower field amongst what was left of the snowstorm that hit the area yesterday. This was done in order to get accustomed to the harsh cold weather, especially that chance of a mix of snow and rain, set to come down in Foxboro. Other than that, practice was status quo.
INJURY REPORT (as of Thursday)
New York Jets
Questionable: TE Chris Baker (back), WR Laveranues Coles (ankle), WR Jerricho Cotchery (finger), TE/LS James Dearth (foot), WR Justin McCareins (thigh) DL Dewayne Robertson (knee)
Probable: QB Kellen Clemens (thigh), TE Joe Kowalewski (shoulder), WR Brad Smith (back)
New England Patriots
Out: DL Mike Wright (foot-placed on IR), G Billy Yates (foot)
Questionable: G Stephen Neal (shoulder), S James Sanders (knee), LB Mike Vrabel (thigh), TE Ben Watson (ankle)
Probable: QB Tom Brady (shoulder)
Did Not Participate in Practice: LB Adalius Thomas (team decision)