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Thursday, November 11
War Room: Jets at Patriots


New York offense vs. New England defense
JETS OFFENSE
Ranking in the NFL:
Run 2
Pass 25
Tot. Yds. 21
Scoring 24
Int's allowed 11
Sacks allowed 26
   
PATRIOTS DEFENSE
Ranking in the NFL:
vs. Run 16
vs. Pass 17
Total yds. allowed 14
# of Ints. 10
# of Sacks 26
Turnover differential -5
The Jets need to be able to run the football on Monday night. Coach Bill Parcells is going to make this game as unexciting as possible to take the Foxboro crowd out of the game, keep Ray Lucas or Rick Mirer from 3rd-and-long situations and, most importantly, keep Drew Bledsoe and the Patriots offense on the sideline as long as possible.

Expect to see the Jets run a lot of one-back, three-receiver sets on first and second down. Parcells is going to look to spread out New England's defense, forcing them away from using SS Lawyer Milloy as a fourth linebacker.

New England has been most successful this season when they lock on to receivers in man-to-man coverage with FS Chris Carter playing centerfield and bring Milloy up to shut down the cut back lanes on the weak side. This has been a tough formation to run against because it gives New England a "44" look up front. The Patriots are undersized and have little depth at the defensive tackle and linebacker positions, but their ability to play man-to-man coverage with CB's Ty Law and Steve Israel has given them the opportunity to use eight-men in the box to defend against the run.

Essentially, Parcells will spread the field to force New England to make a choice on defense. They can continue to bring Milloy up on first-and-second-downs, abandoning their secondary and giving the Jets a great opportunity to go up top off the play fake, or they can back into coverage and play honest against the run. Parcells feels he wins this chess match either way. He has great receivers, Keyshawn Johnson and Wayne Chrebet (will play with bruised hand), who can exploit these matchups.

Parcells also knows that if New England plays an honest seven-man front that the Jets should be able to move the ball on the ground and wear the depleted defensive front out as the game goes on.

Either way, Parcells is determined to not put the game into his QB's hands. The Jets are going to have to run the ball and make the passing game as low-risk as possible. New England will likely put pressure on the Jets to throw the ball on first-and-second downs, daring Ray Lucas or Rick Mirer to beat them in the air.

New England offense vs. New York defense
PATRIOTS OFFENSE
Ranking in the NFL:
Run 25
Pass 1
Tot. Yds. 4
Scoring 6
Int's allowed 22
Sacks allowed 22
   
JETS DEFENSE
Ranking in the NFL:
vs. Run 22
vs. Pass 26
Total yds. allowed 25
# of Ints. 8
# of Sacks 14
Turnover differential -5
This is always an interesting matchup. Bill Parcells and defensive coordinator Bill Belichick versus Drew Bledsoe and the high-flying Patriots passing attack. The preparation for this game on both sides of the ball is almost as important as the execution on Sunday.

When studying both teams' game film from the last few games, it becomes obvious that both units are headed in the same direction. The Patriots have been working to find a way to run the ball to take some of the load off of Bledsoe's shoulders, while the Jets have even dusted off their "43" alignment in order to get a better stack at the line of scrimmage against the run.

New England's running game has been improving each week, finally reaching the point where teams actually have to game plan to defend against it. Led by veteran RB Terry Allen, the team generated 275 net yards rushing in its final two games of the first half. Allen has worked himself into game shape and is getting some more relief from rookie Kevin Faulk.

Equally important is the improved play of the offensive line. This has been a top pass-protecting unit for the past several seasons but they have always struggled to dominate the line of scrimmage in the run game. Strangely enough, one reason for the improved run blocking has been the rotation system being used among the offensive line with Max Lane filling in at three positions. The line seems to be fresher as the game wears on, giving the team a better chance of chewing up some clock with the lead at the end of games, something they have been unable to do for the past three seasons.

Nevertheless, this matchup will be dictated by the effectiveness of New England's passing game versus the heavy pressure that Belichick is undoubtedly going to apply on Bledsoe. The Jets feel that their best chance to match up against the arial attack is to blitz Bledsoe, not allowing his speedy receivers to get down field or come out of their routes. His complaints aside, TE Ben Coates is going to have to have a big game catching the ball as well as the New England running backs out of the backfield.

New England is experiencing great success with three-and-four receiver sets in the passing game, because it is forcing defenses to make a decision: either play man-to-man on all receivers and backs to free up personnel for the blitz package, or back off and allow Bledsoe to sit in the pocket with a minimal rush.

The Jets are going to come after Bledsoe to force disruption to the rhythm of the passing game. They will play a lot of zone coverage underneath and try to diversify the "hot reads" to force Bledsoe into some quick decisions.

If there is one fault of Drew Bledsoe's, it is that he has a tendency to wait too long in the pocket for things to develop. He is inclined to take the sack or wait for the last second to try to force passes in with his strong arm. The Jets are 28th in the league in sacks, but they have been hurrying opposing quarterbacks all season long. If they can get to Bledsoe and force him to hurry his throws, they will effectively neutralize the speed of the Patriot wide receivers.

Special teams
NFL RANK
Category NY NE
Punt return avg. 24 19
Kickoff return avg. 3 16
Opp. punt return avg. 8 24
Opp. kickoff ret. avg. 3 16
Time of possession 16 23
John Hall has been a subject of criticism for the Jets this season. Hall is 12-of-16 on the year, and seems to be getting more inconsistent as the weeks go on. There is talk of Bill Parcells looking to bring someone in to challenge for the job, but this is just a tactical move to wake Hall up and force him to earn his position. Tom Tupa continues to prove he is one of the top punters in the league, averaging 45.7 yards per punt and landing 13-of-42 punts inside the opponent's 20 yardline. Adam Vinatieri remains one of the better kickers in the league, connecting on 13-of-16 for the season with two game-winning kicks. His miss against the Chiefs with under a minute to go is still a stain on his record, but overall he has proven to be a clutch kicker and very reliable. Lee Johnson is having a solid first season in New England, averaging 43.1 yards per punt, but it will be interesting to see how he handles the conditions in Foxboro as the weather turns. Kevin Faulk is continuing his improvement as the Patriots return man. Faulk is now averaging 22.6 yards per kickoff return and 9.0 yards per punt return.

Key matchups
  • New York QB Ray Lucas vs. New England SS Lawyer Milloy
    Milloy has become a very versatile player for the Patriots on defense. Lucas or Mirer are going to have to know where Milloy is at all times, because the Patriots love to bring the strong safety up and either blitz him or drop him into coverage. Quarterbacks have made a lot of coverage mistakes because of Milloy's ability to disguise what he is doing because of alignment.

  • New York TE Fred Baxter vs. New England OLB Chris Slade
    Slade is going to line up against Baxter for most of the day on the strong side. Slade will be responsible for covering Baxter off the line of scrimmage and will also work against him in pursuit of the run. Baxter is a talented player with good athleticism for his position, but his consistency this season has been a concern. Against Slade, a relentless outside linebacker, Baxter is not going to be able to take any plays off.

  • New England RT Zefross Moss vs. New York LDE Rick Lyle
    Moss has been the weakest link on this Patriot offensive line. His injury and inability to generate surge in the run game has forced New England to do a lot of three-man rotating on the line. Lyle is a strong, run-stuffing defensive end that Moss will have little problem with in pass protection, but should struggle against in the run game. New England counts on Moss to run the ball behind, so it will be important for the veteran tackle to have a big game. The one aspect that is pleasing for New England is that they throw the ball so predominantly, and Moss is finally matched up with a defensive end that he should be able to handle in pass pro.

    New York Jets will win if...
  • The defense can create a consistent pass rush without much help from the outside linebackers. The Jets are 28th in the league in sacks, and have had trouble creating a rush all season long. Those problems may not get much better against a New England team that forces the linebacking corps to drop into coverage in most downs because they spread the field so much with the receiving corps and running backs. The Jets need to finally generate some pressure without having to bring all four linebackers on the blitz. If the Jets are beat up front, they will have a tough time shutting down the Patriot passing attack, allowing Bledsoe has time to sit in the pocket and wait for his receivers to run their full routes.

  • The offense wears down the Patriots front seven by running the football with consistency. New England's biggest problem has come up front on defense where they have little depth at the defensive tackle and linebacker position. They have been wearing down late in games, and teams that have a steady running game are able to dominate the fourth quarter. The Jets would love to establish a running game, which would take the game out of Rick Mirer's hands and give the Jets a chance to play low-risk football.

  • QB Ray Lucas or Rick Mirer limits New England's offensive opportunities. Either Jets QB needs to play within their limitations and limit their mistakes on Monday night if the Jets are to stay in the ball game. New York will be much better off either Jets quarterback takes some sacks and throws the ball out of bounds instead of forcing it into coverage or turning it over on a fumble by trying to gain the extra yard as a runner. New England is too explosive on offense to give them extra opportunities with the ball.

    New England will win if...

  • QB Drew Bledsoe has time to throw inside the pocket. The Patriots biggest key Monday night is to give Bledsoe time to throw. They matchup well up front and should be able to handle the Jets' blitz with just the five down lineman. If Bledsoe has time in the pocket to wait for his speedy receivers to make their breaks and get downfield, New England will be a tough team to match points with.

  • CB's Steve Israel and Ty Law hold up in a lot of man-to-man situations. The Patriots are going to dedicate four and five men on the blitz frequently against the Jets in order to get to Rick Mirer and force him to make the poor decision. Law and Israel have held up well in single-man coverage, but Wayne Chrebet and Keyshawn Johnson are a tough tandem to shut down without help from the safety position. Law and Israel will count on the pass rush to get to Mirer, allowing them to play more physical close to the line of scrimmage.

  • DT's Chad Eaton and Henry Thomas protect MLB Andy Katzenmoyer in the middle versus the run. The Jets are going to look to attack the weakness of the Patriot offense by running the football between the tackles. Eaton and Thomas are the biggest keys to stopping the run, because they are responsible for taking up space in the middle and prohibiting OC Kevin Mawae from getting out to block Katzenmoyer. Katzenmoyer is undersized in the middle, but he is extremely mobile and makes a lot of plays against the run if he has room to roam.

    The War Room edge
    The Tuna Bowl has taken a turn for the worse for Jets fans, as New York can no longer dominate this matchup with the talent they have on both sides of the ball. In order to beat the Patriots, they have to put tremendous pressure on Drew Bledsoe and force him to throw the ball before his receivers come out of their routes. The problem for the Jets is that they are 4th-worst in sacks and will have trouble getting to Bledsoe without leaving their cornerbacks out to dry. New England will have some trouble with the Jets running game, but New York will fall behind early and will be forced to play catchup football in the air. New England sweeps the series this season as they outscore the Jets on a crisp day in Foxboro.

    The War RoomMaterial from The War Room.
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