Jets vs. Patriots: Building a Gameplan for Rex Ryan vs. Tom Brady
The Patriots are coming off a disappointing second-half performance in which they were shut down by Seattle's defense, generating a pair of field goals to match two interceptions.
Here is a way Rex Ryan's defense can hold the Patriots offense in check to put them in position to walk away with the win.
Create Illusion of Pressure
No matter what kind of coverage Rex throws at Brady, the Jets need to find a way to generate a pass rush. As with most elite quarterbacks with elite pocket movement, finding interior pressure is the key to avoid letting them step up and avoid edge pressure.
However, the Jets have to be careful to not send too many players to blitz, as the Patriots are as well-armed as any team in the NFL in terms of receiving weapons.
As of now, the best interior pass-rusher on the Jets is rookie Quinton Coples, who shined in his first start against the Colts. The Patriots have a better line than Indianapolis, but they have shown protection issues throughout the season, and the Jets can use similar concepts they used last week to put Coples in the right position in one-on-one situations.
Here is a classic Rex Ryan zone-blitz from Sunday's game against the Colts:
The play starts out in a three-deep safety look. Quinton Coples is highlighted in yellow, LaRon Landry in red.
However, as the play clock winds down, LaRon Landry moves into a blitzing position, making it look like the Jets are about to send five players, which would give them one-on-one blocking with the offensive linemen.
The ball is snapped, and notice Coples getting double-teamed. As Landry comes in, the guard helping with Coples is forced to take on a blitzing Landry. Meanwhile, Bryan Thomas (in red), drops into coverage, leaving the right tackle without work. Now, the Jets are only blitzing four players and getting single blocking, creating an illusion of pressure.
Coples then takes advantage of the single block, using his hands to get pressure on Luck and force the incompletion.
Quinton Coples does not have to be the only beneficiary of this type of pressure scheme. The Jets can use a mix of Coples, Aaron Maybin, Muhammad Wilkerson, Demario Davis, etc. to generate pressure with fresh bodies. They can also replace Bryan Thomas with Demario Davis, or someone faster like Josh Bush.
Double-Team Slot Receivers and Tight Ends on Third Down
The Jets will be able to borrow similar coverage concepts as the Seahawks because they are deep at the cornerback position and will likely take their chances with Lloyd and Branch on the outside.
On third downs Brady is going to be looking for his security blankets, Welker and the two tight ends in Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski.
In this 3rd-and-10, you see the Seahawks left their corners in single coverage with one deep safety, with linebackers and defensive backs doubling the interior receivers in Welker and Hernandez.
Brady ultimately had to check it down to Danny Woodhead, who was promptly tackled short of the sticks by the linebackers who were facing the play in zone coverage. The Seahawks were penalized on the play to extend the drive, but it would have forced a punt.
Defend the Run
We have only gone in-depth in the "stopping the passing" element of the Patriots offense. New England has become much more of a balanced running team, and the Jets, who have struggled against the run, cannot afford to let the Pats offense become one-dimensional.
At the same time, they can't let Brady throw all over the yard on them, so finding a balance between defending the run and pass is crucial.
There really is no magic formula for good run defense; getting off blocks and keeping the backside contained is crucial against a talented back like Stevan Ridley. The Jets do not have the luxury of keeping eight players in the box when going against a quarterback like Tom Brady, so technique is of the utmost importance in this game.
Ultimately, there is no real way to completely stop the Patriots offense with Tom Brady at the helm; all the Jets can do, especially without Revis in the lineup, is be multiple in their looks and hope for the best.
The two most important keys to stopping Brady are to get interior pressure in his face and collapse the pocket in addition to taking away Welker, Hernandez and Gronkowski on third downs.
More than anything else, the Jets need players like Antonio Cromartie and Quinton Coples to continue their improved play and make a big impact come Sunday afternoon.
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