On NFL Network last night, analyst Deion Sanders said of the Patriots-Jets game on Monday night: "This is the one game that the New England Patriots will miss Randy Moss stretching the field.”
Agree or disagree?
In the first meeting between the teams, a 28-14 Jets win on Sept. 19, Moss was targeted 10 times and had just two completions. Cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie both did an excellent job in coverage. When it comes to style of play, Revis (5-foot-11, 198 pounds) and Cromartie (6-foot-2, 210 pounds) are well suited for a matchup against a vertical, longer-striding receiver like Moss.
This is a different type of matchup for them, against smaller, quicker receivers in Deion Branch (5-foot-9, 195 pounds) and Wes Welker (5-foot-9, 185 pounds). While Revis has proven he can handle any type of receiver, Cromartie is a different story.
One game stands out in my mind when thinking about how "longer" corners can sometimes struggle against receivers like Branch and Welker -- the Patriots' 49-26 win over the Raiders in December of 2008.
Going into that game, there was a lot of talk about how much the Patriots would even challenge Oakland cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha (6-foot-2, 210 pounds). They went right after him with Welker, drawing multiple penalties and having success against a player widely regarded as one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. Asomugha didn't look as smooth as one would expect when getting in and out of his breaks on short routes.
That type of performance can be pointed to by those who feel the Patriots actually have a better matchup against the Jets without Moss.