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Remembering New York's Defensive Playoff Scheme: Middle

The Jets had guys up front and on the outside capable of winning one on one matchups. That allowed the Jets to offer heaping portions of help to the area of the field where they were weak, the middle. On many key plays, the Jets rushed three and left the two corners alone. That left six defenders to take on the other three receivers.

Gang Green clogged the throwing lanes with people. It created very tight windows. A quarterback as great as Tom Brady was always going to make some plays. Even a guy as good as him is going to have a tough time consistently hitting high difficulty passes, though. With the Jets taking away big play potential on the outside, scoring would require Brady to hit with precision time and again. Even when he got on a roll, he could not maintain it consistently enough to score. Think of New England's long drive in the fourth quarter that picked up a ton of yardage but killed the clock and ended with the Pats failing to covert a fourth down. The further down the field you get, the less room the receivers have to operate, and the tighter the windows become.

The Jets also did a great job mixing their coverages. One of the great untold stories of this game is the way the Jets essentially built an entirely new defense in a week. In the Week 13 meltdown, it seemed like Brady knew what the Jets were going to do better than they did. He had totally figured out their pass rushing and coverage tendencies on film. In this game, they threw looks at Brady he had never seen before. This made New England's passing game much less effective. Instead of being able to make quick reads, he had to hold the ball for longer, giving that defensive line time to get to him. With new looks on each play, Brady had to figure out the coverage. It is like crossing the street. You might see your slot guy open over the middle just like you see the other side of the street. If the middle linebacker is playing zone, though, instead of manning up against the running back heading into the flat, and you throw it, an interception could happen. It is like crossing the street without looking for traffic.

For those of you familiar with basketball, what the Jets did was a similar concept to a triangle and two defense. In basketball terminology, that means playing man to man defense against the other team's two best players and having your other defenders play zone against the other players. The Jets largely let Revis and Cromartie play man and mixed up zone coverages over the middle with a ton of players getting into the throwing lanes.