If you give a great quarterback time, he will kill you every time. It doesn't matter if all of his receivers are double covered. Eventually somebody will open a small window, and that's all a great quarterback needs. Rex Ryan knows this, and that's why he will not go away from his attack philosophy on Tom Brady this Sunday.
Rex has experience successfully attacking Brady. So do the Jets. During 2006 and 2007 regular season games at Foxborough, the Jets disguised their pass rush having players walk around in the box before coming set. They battered Brady and left New England's offense much less effective than usual. On the other hand, those two regular season contests were terrible weather games, and the Pats picked that same approach apart during the 2006 Playoffs spreading the field and using short, timing routes.
The Jets are going to be more aggressive in the secondary than they were in that Playoff game. Bob Sutton had his corners play off the line, never adjusting as Brady picked the Jets apart and made Jabar Gaffney look like Jerry Rice. In theory, Gang Green's revamped secondary can counter New England's deep receiving corps. Revis, Sheppard, Strickland, and Lowery will meet Moss, Welker, and Galloway. One of the untold stories of last week's game was how well the secondary played. There were times the Texans picked up New York's blitzes but still couldn't make a play because nobody got open. The Jets will need just as big of an effort this time around. You can't stop the Pats without hitting Brady, but attacking him comes with the risk of the big play. Darrelle Revis shut down Andre Johnson last week. He can do the same to Randy Moss. That matchup isn't my concern. My concern is whether the others step up against one of the deepest receiving corps in football.
There are three things I expect from the Pats. The first is for Kevin Faulk to play a big role for them. The best receiving back in football should see a healthy amount of screen passes coming his way trying to neutralize an overly aggressive blitz. I also expect to see plenty of two tight end sets with Benjamin Watson and old friend Chris Baker. Watson is a matchup nightmare for the Jets and dominated Calvin Pace last year in Foxborough. Expect the Pats to test the Jets in a major area of weakness last season, covering the tight end. The third thing to expect is plenty of no huddle spread sets. The Pats used these to great success a year ago. This got Kris Jenkins off the field and didn't allow the Jets to sub him in. It opened the middle of the field for Matt Cassel to run for 62 yards. I wouldn't expect Tom Brady to replicate that in his second game back from a catastrophic knee injury, but it's pretty obvious how much easier it is to execute if you don't have to block Jenkins in the middle of the line.
I'm sure we'll see the Jets unleash Kerry Rhodes to fly all over the field and blitz plenty. Big games are times to put your playmakers in position to make plays. Kerry's done a lot of talking this week. He has backed it up in the past. If the Jets are to win, he'll probably need to do so once again and make a few impact plays.
Brady was his usual self in the clutch, but he did struggle early on. It seemed like he didn't have his base fully under him as he air mailed throws. The kind of injury he suffered takes a long time to heal. It will grow much better later in the season as he plays on it and builds its strength. The Jets need to hit him, rattle him, and get him thinking about the knee. If they don't get to him quickly enough and allow him to get comfortable, it's probably going to be a long day.