Mark Sanchez needs to come back down to earth quickly after his terrific debut or else the New England Patriots will bring him back down. The Pats have question marks on this side of the ball, but expect them to give Sanchez their best shot. You can be sure Bill Belichick held some things back for the rookie starting for his least favorite team. When the Pats last saw the Jets, they were the victim of an epic performance by a Hall of Fame quarterback. They'll make sure Sanchez won't tear them up the way Brett Favre did last year.
Belichick's goal in every game is to take away what you do best. For the Jets, that will be the run game. The Patriots will without a doubt load up the box like the Texans did to force Sanchez to win the football game. It's going to be tougher against this particular team. Sanchez is going to face exotic fronts. The Pats are capable of showing any number of looks up front. Their base 3-4 features a stout front of Ty Warren, Vince Wilfork, and Jarvis Green with Pierre Woods or pass rushing specialist Tully Banta-Cain, who recorded a pair of sacks against the Bills, on the outside with the versatile Adalius Thomas. Even without Richard Seymour, the attention the front three commands and the blockers they tie up make life easy on blitzers. Recent acquisition from Oakland Derrick Burgess will also see time on the outside and is a natural at 4-3 end with an excellent pass rushing repertoire. Expect blitzes to come from all over the field with multiple fronts. The Pats will try to do to the Jets what the Jets did to the Texans.
Leigh Bodden looked very good in the opener at corner. Veteran Shawn Springs will line up opposite him. This is going to create a more difficult environment for Jerricho Cotchery and Chansi Stuckey than they faced against the Texans, a team with one starting corner hurt and the other with only a week of practice under his belt. They held a better duo in Lee Evans and Terrell Owens to five catches. Opportunities should be there for the Jets, though. Belichick's going to attack the young quarterback, which will leave his corners vulnerable. Sanchez has shown nice mobility in the pocket, and Stuckey in particular has excelled in breaking off his routes to get open. It will be up to the offensive line to protect and Sanchez to give his receivers extra time like he did last week.
The area in which the Pats struggled most against the Bills was on screens to speedy Fred Jackson. Jackson had a big game, breaking some long runs after the catch. Leon Washington is even more explosive than Jackson. There's no better way to neutralize the blitz and give a young quarterback easy reads than the screen.
The Jets also need to exploit Dustin Keller. The biggest reason they drafted him was the way his game resembled that of Indianapolis' Dallas Clark, a player with whom the Pats have trouble matching up. Aside from Thomas, the Pats do not have great linebackers in coverage. Their thin corps at the position will be even thinner than usual with Jarrod Mayo sitting the game out with a knee injury. Gary Guyton and Eric Alexander will see a lot of time in the middle. With memories of Keller's big game at Foxborough last November fresh in their heads, the Pats will probably use their safeties to play Dustin, potentially opening up the outside for David Clowney, who made me look foolish by not making an impact on last week's game. They'll force the weak link on the roster, the secondary receivers to beat them by focusing on strengths like the tight end and run game.