The Patriots have offered a number of different defensive looks the past few weeks. Watching the game against the Dolphins two weeks ago, I noticed a subtle move. Vince Wilfork lined up at right end in the 3-4 trying to create a mismatch against the left side of Miami's line. Last week against the Colts New England operated a lot out of the 4-3 with Ty Warren out of the lineup and Derrick Burgess and Tully Banta-Cain at end. Warren is fighting an ankle injury. He's questionable. Whether he starts or not, I think we'll see a few wrinkles from Bill Belichick, changing up the looks on Mark Sanchez.
I would guess we could see Wilfork at end a few times trying to use his power against D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Alan Faneca, who may struggle to contain him. If the left side gets tied up, it will free up edge rushers, such as New England's best, Tully-Banta Cain (3 sacks). Banta-Cain is questionable with a rib injury. I could see Belichick utilizing a look like this to use Rex Ryan's overload blitzes against him. With Warren banged up and Jarvis Green also nursing an injury, we'll see a lot of Mike Wright on the line. Wright has been effective as a pass rusher.
I think the Jets should max protect to keep Sanchez standing. The Pats are probably going to attack him. They've seen on film the rookie mistakes he's made and will try to force more. I'm also expecting eight in the box. Belichick teams try to take away what you do best. For the Jets, owners of the league's top rushing attack, that's run the football. Patrick Chung has also been an effective blitzer from the safety spot.
If the Jets can keep Sanchez standing, they have some decent matchups. Braylon Edwards is a tough matchup for Leigh Bodden. He might need help in the form of Brandon Merriweather and other safeties, which will leave Jerricho Cotchery against an aging Shawn Springs, returning to the lineup from a knee injury and a mix of rookie Darrius Butler and Jason Wilhite. Cotchery always seems to play well against New England. He'll have a good chance to do so again. Dustin Keller should remain Sanchez's primary read, though. It's important not to make mistakes. Keller's a safety valve, and aside from Merriweather and Jerrod Mayo, New England's linebackers and safeties aren't great in coverage.
The Jets did a lot to exploit New England's pass defense in the second half of the first game. This was without Braylon Edwards. As long as they can keep Sanchez upright, they'll have some favorable matchups again. I do not expect this platform to affect Sanchez. Less than a year ago, Mark lit up the Rose Bowl. Obviously, this is a tougher defense, but the pressure of the game won't get to him. Aside from Banta-Cain and Wright, the Pats don't really have any great pass rushers in their front seven. Adalius Thomas and Derrick Burgess have ability but haven't really lit the world on fire this year. The Jets just need to do what it takes to keep Sanchez standing.