NFL Week 2: New York Jets Defense and Special Teams Vs New England
What a difference a week makes for a football team. The New York Jets bounced back in a major way, defeating the New England Patriots in week two.
After a sluggish start, the Jets' defense came alive and was key for the Jets' victory. In the early going, it appeared that the Pats would be able to move the ball, particularly between the 20s, at will. It was second half adjustments however that made the difference for the Jets.
Let's look at some specifics...
New England Offensive Game Plan: Aaron Hernandez, TE
The first half of Sunday's game against New England was the coming out party for talented tight end, Aaron Hernandez out of the University of Florida.
The Jets opened the game with their modified 3-4 defense, trying to cover this guy with linebackers and it hurt the Jets badly in the first half. With CBs Revis, Cromartie, and Wilson busy with Moss, Welker, and a rotating third receiver, Hernandez worked the middle of the field. He has the speed of a wide receiver with tight end size and routinely beat Harris in coverage, something that isn't Harris's strength. Hernandez caught six balls for 101 yards, including a 46 yard reception.
However, the Jets adjusted to a nickel look that took Hernandez away in the second half.
New England Offensive Game Plan: Wes Welker and Screens
Quick hitters were the name of the game early on for New England. Everyone knows Rex loves to be aggressive and loves to Blitz. Knowing this, The Patriots came out with a very good game plan to go for short screens and quick hitters. This was very effective for them, particularly on third down. The Pats were 5-11 on third down for the game, but converted on 4-8 in the first half, and also converted two 4th down attempts.
Much of this was on short passes to Welker and quick hitters over the middle of the field that allowed their skill-players to make plays one-on-one.
Antonio Cromartie: Redemption Is Sweet
For the second straight game, Cromartie came up with an interception. However, in this game, Cromartie's interception was not the one positive in a game of negatives was the culmination of a fantastic performance. He struggled a bit in the first half, surrendering a touchdown while defending Wes Welker, but stepped his game up big when he was asked to cover Randy Moss upon Revis's hamstring injury.
While covering Moss, Cromartie came up with an interception and got his hands on a ball that ended up in Brodney Pool's hands for a key interception in the second half.
The Other Corner, Kyle Wilson
Wilson heard the criticism all week. He was exposed a bit in coverage in week one against Baltimore. Pundits stated that if Wilson defended Welker, he'd have 15 catches.
He was a big part of the second half adjustment to nickel, defending Tight Ends Hernandez and Gronkowski in a rotation with Dwight Lowery that took the tight end option away from Brady.
Later in the second half, with the game on the line, Wilson stepped up big time. Forced into a 2nd CB role with Revis sidelined, Wilson looked like a seasoned pro and demonstrated the skills for which he was drafted by the Jets. He helped to take Welker out of the game, staying with him stride-fo-stride on most plays.
Alert The Presses! A Gholston Sighting!
Vernon Gholston made a tackle behind the line on BenJarvus Green-Ellis midway through the first quarter. It set up a third and long situation for the Patriots. Unfortunately, New England conevrted that third down by way of penalty, and it was Gholston's only tackle of the game.
There is no doubt the kid has talent. He shed Matt Light's block and made a bee-line to Green-Ellis, making a text-book wrap-up tackle, but he was invisible the rest of the game. He needs to be consistent in his play.
Devito and Pouha: Making a Name For Themselves Along The Line
Every week these guys show up and do their job to little fanfare. Well, I am going to give them their fanfare. They are always in the right place, they do their job, and are the embodiment of what Rex Ryan means when he says, "Play like a Jet".
Pouha led the team with six tackles, and Devito tied for second on the team, with three others, with four tackles of his own. They are always around the ball, and are quickly stablizing that line with the absence of Kris Jenkins.
Jason Taylor, Strip Sack On Tom Brady
Jason Taylor made his signature play as a Jet when he strip-sacked Tom Brady late in the fourth quarter.When he knocked the ball loose and Harris recovered, it sealed the Patriots' fate in the Meadowlands.
While the play is impressive, it doesn't signify the re-emergence of Jason Taylor. Prior to the sack, he hadn't gotten anywhere near getting to Brady on Sunday. There is a huge difference between when the game is competitive, and when a defensive end can pin his ears back and unload on the quarterback. When Taylor forced the sack, there was no threat of a run.
Injury News: Revis, Aggravates Hamstring
As mentioned in the previous slide, Revis's injured hamstring shook the defensive backfield up. The Jets' defensive depth really came through with Cromartie, Wilson, and Dwight Lowery were forced into extended action. They all played very well which bodes well for the Jets.
Special Teams: Nick Folk
Nick Folk's re-emergence this young season is making a difference for the Jets. He connected on 2-2 field goals including a very big 49-yarder just before half-time. That kick brought the Jets to within 14-10, and seemed to breathe life back into the team as they ran for the tunnel.
Folk was very good on kickoffs as well, No touchbacks in the game, but routinely put the ball in the endzone which allowed for the coverage to get there.
Special Teams: Steve Weatherford
Weatherford continues to enjoy an excellent young season. He averaged 51.2 yards a kick on Sunday. he put one punt inside the 20, and should have put a punt inside the five, but Marquice Cole couldn't make the play on the rolling punt.
Special Teams: Kick and Punt Coverage
It's always a positive when you do not allow a kick or punt return for a touchdown. The Jets are a team that relies on field position to maintain an advantage in games. They were pretty good in kick coverage, they only allowed an average of 24.6 yards per return from the dangerous Ben Tate.
Punt coverage could use some improvement. Julian Edelman averaged 14 yards per return, and as mentioned, Marquice Cole had an opportunity to pin the Pats inside the five, but whiffed on his attempt at the rolling ball.