Game Plan: New England Patriots vs. New York Jets

T.AAnalyst ISeptember 19, 2009

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 14:  Benjamin Watson #84  of the New England Patriots is congratulated by teammates Kevin Faulk #33, Dan Koppen #67 and Wes Welker #83 after Watson scored the game winning touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Buffalo Bills on September 14, 2009 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The Patriots defeated the Bills 25-24.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

After the New England Patriots pulled off a remarkable fourth quarter comeback against the surprisingly impressive Buffalo Bills, they must head to the Meadowlands to face another division rival, the New York Jets.

The Patriots split wins with the Jets last season. The Patriots won the first game and the Jets broke Bill Belichick’s undefeated record in overtime with the Patriots in the second game.

The Patriots face a much improved Jets team with new head coach Rex Ryan. Whoever wins this game will have sole possession of the division lead.

Here is what I think the Patriots must do to come away with a victory:


Patriots Week 1 Playbook and Analysis:

The Patriots defense executed most of the points from last week’s game plan e.g. they jammed receivers at the line of scrimmage on third down (with safety help up top.)

They didn’t however minimize the YAC of the Buffalo Bills receivers and running backs. After Week One the Buffalo Bills ranked fourth in the league in yards after the catch with 156 yards (Fred Jackson accounted for 62 percent of those yards). Of the Bills’ 276 total yards 60 percent came from YAC.

Offensively the Patriots followed 1/3 of the last week’s offensive game plan.

They carried out the ball control game plan, winning the time of possession battle 37:08 minutes to 22:52 minutes. The Patriots sustained time consuming drives, however many drives stagnated on third down.

The Patriots didn’t do a very good job of protecting Tom Brady. They were many times when Brady got hit fractions of seconds after he released the ball.

The Patriots actually followed last week’s game plan of setting up screens to running backs and receivers but didn’t execute the screens (reasons varied from receivers and running backs dropping the ball to Brady over throwing the screen pass).


Defensive Game Plan:

Mark Sanchez had a very impressive NFL début, throwing for 272 yards and a very impressive 8.8 yards per attempt; let's hope the Pats can bring his performance back to rookie standards.

The Patriots struggled stopping the YAC of the Bills receivers (especially Fred Jackson); this happened when Jerrod Mayo was injured and Guyton had to step in to the game. When Mayo got injured the Patriots switched from a 3-4 to a 4-3.

This put Gary Guyton as the only ILB (technically a MLB) on the field and was responsible for calling defensive plays. He had trouble diagnosing screens and was thinking too long instead of reacting.

Going against Leon Washington you must be able to contain him after he catches the ball out of the backfield. Leon Washington has a 7.8 career YAC average; compare that to Wes Welker’s YAC average in 2007 of 6.8 and you can clearly see just how effective Leon Washington is at gaining yards after the catch.

Rex Ryan said that he will be using Leon Washington more this season; this week is going to be a perfect opportunity to use Washington’s explosive abilities.

I don’t expect the Patriots to fully contain Washington with Jerod Mayo most likely being out for the game and Gary Guyton filling in, but there are some ways the Patriots can minimize Washington’s YAC.

Since the Jets don’t have a dynamic wide receiver, Bill Belichick doesn’t have to be inclined to put double coverage on one of them. This allows the defense to be flexible and will hopefully allow the Patriots to put a man in the “box” to stop the run and most importantly the screens and YAC.

The Jets have a very good TE in Dustin Keller who had a very good game when these two teams last faced off catching eight passes for 87 yards including a clutch catch on 3rd-and-19 to help the Jets win in overtime.

Once again, the Jets not having a dominant receiver that vies for double coverage allows the Patriots to be flexible and double cover Keller if the situation calls for it.

I think the Patriots should utilize Patrick Chung in this game. Coming out of college Chung had a reputation of being a hard hitting safety and solid tackler. Chung could help double cover Keller and stop screens to prevent any yards after the catch.

He also provides an intimidating presence, something the Patriots lacked the last time they played the Jets (allowing players like Keller and Washington to bounce off tacklers.)

The Patriot defense was very bad at stopping the Buffalo Bills when they really had to, they must get crucial stops.



  • For the second week in a row the Patriots must stop YAC
  • The Patriots must be physical and must stop Dustin Keller
  • They must get crucial stops


Offensive Game Plan:

The Patriots’ offense struggled early last week; Tom Brady participating in his first meaningful game since Week One of last year may have been a major reason for that.

The Patriots struggled setting up screen passes early in the game. The Patriots receivers tied for second in the league with three dropped passes, most (if not all) of those dropped passes occurred during attempted screens.

I think the Patriots will eliminate those problems and hopefully execute those screens better.

If Rex Ryan’s defense lives up to it’s reputation and brings pressure on Brady, the screen and short passing game will be very crucial to the offense’s success. The best way to beat a 4-6 defense is to spread them out and get quick slant routes before the defense gets to the quarterback.

When facing a 4-6 defense you also must have a solid running game. Last week the Patriots' running game starting off great, but the offensive line slowed down and allowed the Bills to dominate the line of scrimmage. The O-line will get their hands full once again going against Kris Jenkins.

The offensive line wasn’t impressive although they only gave up one sack in 53 attempts (this shows us how fast Tom Brady gets rid of the ball compared to Matt Cassel last year).

The offensive line must improve and allow Brady to have some sort of organized pocket to throw the ball. This will be very difficult to accomplish against a Rex Ryan defense.

I expect the Patriots to try and get the ball downfield more often this game.

I also want Joey Galloway to step up to all the hype he received when he arrived in New England. This will be very hard to do going against the Jets secondary with Darrell Revis and Kerry Rhodes.

Ben Watson had a very good opening day, but he has been very inconsistent during his time in NE. He makes a spectacular catch one play then drops a ball the next play. If he can make his presence known in the middle of the field (especially when the Jets blitz) it will be a tremendous lift for the offense.



  • Protect Brady (second week in a row)
  • Try to strike down the field more often (when Moss or Galloway is single covered due to a blitz)
  • Ben Watson must prove he can be consistent and establish himself in the middle of field



What is the Unit Most Likely to Succeed?

Secondary: They had a very good opening day, shutting down Terrell Owens, Lee Evans, and Roscoe Parish, eliminating the Jets receivers with a rookie quarterback throwing them the ball should be a cake walk.

What is the Unit Most Likely to Fail?

Offensive line: The offense struggled against the Buffalo Bills defense that, aside from Aaron Schobel and Aaron Maybin lack a pass rusher. The Jets will bring pressure on Tom Brady. Rex Ryan’s Raven defense almost upset the 2007 Patriots; he would love to get pay back this year.

Player That Needs to Step Up?

Joey Galloway: Galloway was expected to pull coverage away from Randy Moss and make big plays down the field…that hasn’t happened so far. We can’t put all the blame towards Galloway however; he was only targeted twice last week compared to Randy Moss’ and Wes Welker’s league leading 16 targets.

Who is the Most Crucial Player for the Patriots This Week?

Brandon Meriwether: With Jerod Mayo most likely not participating in the game, Meriwether needs to step up and prove he can lead this defense and prove that he is one of the better safeties in the NFL (or at least the AFC).

He had a solid game last week having eight tackles, three of which were unassisted and a very crucial stop of Leodis McKelvin that allowed Pierre Woods to strip the ball.


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