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Blueprint for Patriots: The Element of Surprise

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Tom Brady has seldom looked as uncomfortable as he did in the Divisional Playoffs against the Jets. When you watch the game over, there are times where he double clutches and hesitates because he is perplexed by what is happening. He seemed like he had trouble diagnosing what the Jets were doing because he was expecting something else.

You should always listen to television announcers early in a telecast for inside information. In their preparation, they speak with key guys on both sides to get insider perspective. I remember early in the 45-3 debacle, the ESPN crew talked about how Brady used the extra days he got between his Thursday Thanksgiving game and the Monday night game really breaking down the Jets’ defense and really thought he had it figured out. A part of me knew the Jets were in for a long night right then and there. Early in the Playoff game, Phil Simms commented about how Brady confidently said the Patriots had a whole new set of plays to surprise the Jets, who they figured simply worked on trying to figure out what the Pats had done in that 45-3 game. Instead, the Jets confused him.

From the tenor of what Simms was saying, Brady seemed to feel like he had the Jets figured out. He was left for a surprise when the Jets did new things and made him uncomfortable.

I cannot prove it, but you also could not blame the Pats for being caught by surprise by how competitive the Jets were. The way New England was playing entering that game, they might not have taken seriously the possibility they could lose. Could you blame them? They had dominated the Jets for a decade and had beaten them by 6 touchdowns just over a month earlier. The tone of Pats fans here on GGN that week indicated a group that thought the Jets could only win if something miraculous happened. The fact is the Jets were a really talented team lying in the bushes. They controlled most of the game.

This more than anything is why I am skeptical the Jets have given a blueprint on how to beat the Patriots. Part of their success was simply due to the fact Brady was not familiar with a lot of what the Jets threw at him that day and thus had a tough time diagnosing it. One second spent doing so can make all the difference in the world. He is going to study what happened and will not be caught surprised again.