The Jets defense has been as good as we expected it to be, if not better. After all, we're the #1 defense in terms of points allowed, yards allowed and red zone defense. We have an exceptional secondary, and a powerful, young, talented defensive line. Our linebackers have their limitations, but even they have performed well this year so far. However the Jets first real test will come this Sunday, when the defensive minded Todd Bowles will look to negate the effect of Rob Gronkowski.
When Todd Bowles was asked what other teams have done this year to cover Gronk, he quipped:
"I don't see anybody covering him (laughter)"
The simple fact is, it's not easy to cover a man as talented as Gronkowski. So far this year he's brought in 23 passes for 425 yards and 5 touchdowns, that's an average of 18.5 yards a catch, a ridiculous number for a tight end. Covering Gronk is a mystery, that no team has truly cracked yet:
"Everybody has tried everything. He's probably seen every coverage that he's going to see in his lifetime, doubles, triples, vices, top, he's seen everything. You just have to be smart and be able to make your share of plays" Bowles explains
The problem is, New England has a plethora of passing options. if you dedicate extra coverage to Gronkowski, like most teams do, you leave players like Amendola and Edelman open. Even with good cornerback coverage, you have Dion Lewis underneath.
Bowles was asked outright if he signed former San Diego safety Marcus Gilchrist with the view to covering players like Gronkowski and although I don't imagine that was a big focal point, defending the middle of the field was, and no tight end using the middle of the field more than Gronkowski,
"No, we signed him because of his versatility, being able to be in the deep middle, he's a very good tackler, a good blitzer and he's a cover guy. He can cover wide outs as well. It wasn't necessarily for Gronkowski-type of guys. We signed him because of his versatility and because of his intelligence" - Bowles on Gilchrist
Gronkowski has historically had a mixed bag of results when facing the New York Jets defense, and in particular the Rex Ryan defense.
2010 - 3 games, 3 catches, 91 yards, 0 TD's
2011 - 2 games, 12 catches, 144 yards, 2 TD's
2012 - 1 game, 6 catches, 78 yards, 2 TD's
2013 - 1 game, 8 catches, 114 yards, 0 TD's
2014 - 2 games, 11 catches, 99 yards, 1 TD
If we can stop Gronkowski, that will go a long way to defeating the Patriots. However, regardless of how good Rob is, the patriots have a lot of weapons at a lot of positions and the defense will need to come with their best game to walk away with the victory.