Student assistant Mike Rodak takes a look at the television copy of Sunday game against the Jets and offers some of his second-quarter observations:
1. One of QB Tom Brady’s better throws on the day came as the Patriots approached the end zone on their touchdown drive early in the second quarter. On the third-down play, the Jets rushed five players, heavy from the offensive right side. RT Sebastian Vollmer had a tough block down on an interior blitzer and was unable to slide in between the rusher and Brady. Showing poise, Brady hit TE Aaron Hernandez in stride on an outside route to secure a first down.
2. Exceptional in the season opener against the Bengals, the Patriots’ run defense continued to be solid against the Jets. With adding size to the defensive line in mind, the Patriots started DE Ron Brace, rotating Mike Wright in more of a situational role. The Jets ran at Brace with RB LaDainian Tomlinson on their first offensive play of the second quarter, and the second-year player held up well. He controlled the line of scrimmage, walking RT Damien Woody outside to follow the run before shedding his blocker and making the tackle.
3. Patriots DE Gerard Warren’s sack of Jets QB Mark Sanchez early in the second quarter was mainly the result of poor blocking by LT D’Brickashaw Ferguson on a play-action by the Jets. Ferguson looked to purposely get inside leverage on Warren as if he was defending against an inside run, even allowing Warren to get between him and Sanchez. This allowed Warren to easily pull off his blocker and chase down a panicking Sanchez for the sack.
4. On a third-and-7 during the Jets’ second-quarter touchdown drive, the Patriots brought a five-man blitz, trying to pressure Sanchez into making a bad throw. RCB Darius Butler gave WR Braylon Edwards a 5-yard cushion on the snap, even with two deep safeties. The Jets picked up the Patriots blitzers, which included CB Jonathan Wilhite and safety Patrick Chung, giving Sanchez a clean pocket to hit Edwards on a sideline route for a first down, with Butler trailing by two or three steps on Edwards’ break. This play served as one of many examples in the game where the Patriots were not able to get off the field on third down.
5. Rookie OLB Jermaine Cunningham’s first play standing up in the 3-4 for the Patriots came two plays later, after an unnecessary roughness penalty on OLB Tully Banta-Cain. The play coincided with the Jets’ first use of their “pistol” formation in the game, which began with QB Brad Smith running to the defensive left, away from Cunningham. After initially following the play inside, Cunningham read Smith’s reverse toss to WR Jerricho Cotchery, showing open-field tackling ability and not allowing Cotchery to break free.
6. Butler was alone outside against the much taller Edwards on Edwards' 10-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter, but Butler made the play harder on himself by getting beaten on Edwards’ move off the line. Butler was a step slow to react as Edwards broke for the end zone, and had to play Edwards with his back to the quarterback. That took away Butler’s ability to play the ball, perhaps his only chance of making the stop against a larger receiver like Edwards.
7. On Monday, NT Vince Wilfork spoke of the Patriots’ inability to stop a few “sub rushes” by the Jets. In the second quarter, the Patriots were not in their “sub package,” but were still called upon to defend a second-and-6 run by RB Shonn Greene. On the play, Wilfork was lined up at RDE, with rookie Kyle Love at nose tackle. Wilfork got a quick jump off the snap and made a move outside on Ferguson, but found himself out of position once the draw play developed. Wilfork’s over-aggression, as well as a double-team on Banta-Cain, opened up a hole for Greene to gain a first down.