Last week I was wrong. I did not think the Jets could generate pressure on Tom Brady without blitzing. They did just that. Part of what helped was the coverage being so good. When coverage holds, the pass rushers have more time to get to the quarterback. The Jets being able to do this stands in stark contrast with certain weeks during the year when coverage initially was good, and they couldn't get to the passes even sending extra men.
When Rex Ryan first arrived with the Jets, the league had trouble figuring out his fronts. Now the opposite is happening. The back of the defense and his coverage schemes are giving quarterbacks a lot of trouble. A strength of the defense has always been coverage. There are two competing approaches. Good coverage either allows a defense to blitz extra men, knowing they will be strong back there, or dropping extra men to clog passing lanes and make the coverage even better.
Coverage and a pass rush work hand in hand. Emphasizing either can be effective. Right now the Jets are having success by mixing up their coverage and giving pass rushers that extra time.
Gang Green has held Tom Brady and Peyton Manning to 2 touchdowns in 8 quarters during the postseason, excluding New England's touchdown against a prevent defense in the last minute last week. One happened on a 57 yard pass that featured a coverage breakdown. The other involved 4 plays of at least 10 yards, including a 37 yard pass. The Jets have kept everything else in front of them, and even elite quarterbacks have had trouble putting together long drives to go the length of the field against a coverage unit this talented.
The Steelers are suspect on the offensive line in pass protection, in particular at the tackle positions. The Jets should give their resurgent front four a chance to get to Ben Roethlisberger and keep extra men deep. Ben is adept at extending plays and finding men downfield, which is less dangerous with extra defenders to help deep. Roethlisberger will find that extra time even when the Jets blitz, and corners will be left alone.
If it doesn't work, the Jets can adjust to a more familiar aggressive approach, but they might as well try to confuse Roethlisberger in the back and play it safe to start the game. If it isn't broken, don't fix it.