Evil Empire at the Meadowlands

Coming off a difficult loss on the road last week, the Jets return home to face a divison rival in the New England Patriots, an outfit otherwise characterized as the Evil Empire of Coach Bill Belichick. Many Jet fans arent old enough to remember that Belichick, considered by many to be the greatest coach of all time, was once the Head Coach of the Jets. Before he wasnt. And went on to win six super bowls in Foxborough. During that time, this team has virtually owned our franchise, most recently winning an unbelievable fourteen consecutive games. That's right. Fourteen straight losses for Gang Green against New England. The Jets havent beaten Belichick in almost eight years. Can today be the day when that streak comes to an end?

If the Jets are ever going to beat the Patriots again, today would certainly be a good time to do it. Why? Well, a couple reasons. First of all this is not Tom Brady quarterbacking a dominant team with superlative weapons on both sides of the ball. The Patriots have played hard and well so far, but they come into this game without a win, 0-2 having lost to the Eagles and, more important, last week to the Dolphins. They have talent, especially on defense, but they havent been able to piece together a win to start the season. They are 0-1 in the division, where we are 1-0. A win today, as improbable as it may seem to some, puts us at 2-0 in the division and drops New England into last place, winless and 0-2 in division play. Three games into the season, that represents a very serious early lead, forcing Belichick into an uphill battle that very few teams have ever won. Winless after three games, he would once again not be able to recover and make the playoffs. Remain competitive, fight like hell and win a fair share, yes, definitely. But make the playoffs? About a three, maybe three and half percent chance. If you want to argue about it fine. I'll give you five.

So you can expect some desperation from the team in blue jerseys and white pants today (Jets are wearing all white with green numbers and trim). On defense Belichcik runs a base three man line, but will move mulitple defenders into the box to stuff the run with stunts and run blitz. In the three, watch the nose tackle, if you can move him in either direction, space becomes available to run the ball and forces adjustments inside. Their line is big, strong and fairly athletic, as are their aggressive linebackers, who tend to overwhelm and bully their way around the box, bringing pressure when they rush four, rush five. Belichick's attack varies, he never does the same thing twice, its a constant guessing game trying to figure out where and when he's going to bring the heat; guys come up, then they drop out. Then they come up and keep coming, you just never know. The keys, cover one safety, cover two, can help, but the sudden surprise off the corner or the edge can quickly collapse the pocket and create splash plays that lead to catastrophic results. Jets offensive line, weakened by the loss of a starting tackle, will have its hands full.

Jets Offensive Coordinator Paul Hackett, like he did last week, is going to want to throw the ball on first down, and not expose his running backs to the physical pressure Belichick wants to bring to control the line of scrimmage. Again the I know that you know that I know I want to pass the ball; so Im gonna pass the ball. Jets had some success with that strategy last week, especially passing on first down, but I think Hackett knows that to be successful in this game, he's going to have to disable what the Patriots probably do best; stop the run (then blow up the pocket on third down). Hackett cant be half pregnant like he was last week, when he tried to act like he would, but never actually committed to the run; combined, Hall and Cook had less than ten carries, and that wasnt simply because we fell behind early and had to pass. To find room outside, Hackett has to move hard against that base d straight ahead/off tackle with the running game, I dont care who's at lt replacing Duane Brown. You have to attack. Sure Bill Belichick is famous for taking away what you do best. But in a simpler sense, his plan revolves around the concept of shrinking the field, limiting the area in which he actually plays defense, and then speeding up size to create advantages, swing momentum and generate turnovers. The way to counter that is to get dirty, come out swinging and punching. And create your own space.

The Jets have to move the ball in this game, and the best way to move it is on the ground. I know Breece is on a pitch count, and Cook looks tentative. But our backs are good, and the best way to revive a struggling offensive line is to move it straight ahead. Hall wants the ball and knows what to do with it; get it to him on the ground and receiving in the flat. Stay out of third and long, and if you can establish run game, progress through the passing game. Get Wilson out of the pocket, go through progressions, force the big d to move its feet, read zone and deliver. Just watch out for Judon and Uche, the hit men. Judon is Six Three 270, has a tendency, like I said, to show up fast and aggressive in the pocket, Bentley same thing. Dont let them, especially Judon, run free like we did with Parsons last week. Pay attention. Chip him, cut him, double team him, run at, then away from him, whatever, Just dont think he's not gonna show up, hit him and keep him occupied, big guys wear down as the game wears on, especially in bad weather. Dont be greedy, but stay awake and look for that shot downfield; if Belichick keeps flashing that cover one, eventually a receiver will break free and be open deep. At some point, you want to throw one or two long, that completion may be available. Keep it simple for Zach, but understand that if he ever finds time to plant that back foot, he WILL find open receivers, even against Belichick. Mind the wrinkle/trick play or coverage that will come eventually. But play fast and play hard. Execute the offense.

On d, our guys did not play as poorly as it may have seemed last week. They were soft in zone and Dallas countered with a quickened, up tempo attack. We gave up two early touches, but coverage was close all day, just a step behind most of the time, same thing with the rush. Second half a tiring unit gave up yardage, but did not yield the end zone again. Expect the production to appear again this week in the game that counts in the divison. Jets own Mac Jones in the pocket, last time they saw him they sacked him six times, Moseley and Quincy Williams were guided missiles. That's gonna happen again today, Jet D line has a significant advantage on the Pats' offensive line. I expect big days from Quinnen Wililams, JFM, Lawson, Jones, Jefferson and Huff. Hit Jones and the ball will come out funny; then Reed or Sauce will get their hands on catchable balls. If we are successful in takig the ball away I think the Jets will win this game, point blank. Saleh has seen the Belichick movie before, he knows not simply how it ends. But how he can make it end differently. This streak is going to end someday. Might as well be today. I like the Jets in this game, 24-20. You heard it here first. JETS JETS JETS.....

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