“Moss-less” Patriots Are Better Off With Deion Branch Against the Jets
The Patriots took a 14-10 lead into halftime against the Jets during their first match up in the New Meadowlands Stadium. But, Darrelle Revis injured his hamstring on the long touchdown to Randy Moss.
His injury was a blessing to the Jets.
Obviously Revis is an outstanding corner, but so is Antonio Cromartie. The difference between the two is that Revis can cover anyone, while Cromartie excels at defending speed receivers.
Jets Defense, With Moss in the Game:
When Moss was hurt, Cromartie was defending Wes Welker, and Wes was tearing Cromartie to shreds. Cromartie did not have the quickness to match Welker’s abilities, and he is too tall and lanky to stick with Welker on quick cuts.
When Revis went down, Cromartie was put on Moss while Kyle Wilson was put on Wes Welker. Wilson was much better at handling Welker than Cromartie, and Antonio shut down Randy Moss, who is a speed receiver.
Essentially, in the first game, Tom Brady had one person to throw to if there was heavy pressure: Welker.
Brady’s Quick-Out Weapons:
Now, Brady has three. Wilson and Revis will be covering Deion Branch and Wes Welker.
Branch is a wily old veteran who still has the quickness and route running ability to beat a young corner like Wilson.
We have never seen Revis cover Wes Welker, but we have to assume that Revis will keep a not fully healthy Welker in check.
Nonetheless, Welker is still an option on quick routes where Brady needs to dump it off in a hurry.
If the Jets try to put Antonio Cromartie on Branch or Welker, he will be torched, as he is not quick enough to keep pace with either receiver. Essentially, Branch is a better receiver than the penalty-prone Kyle Wilson is a corner, and Antonio Cromartie won’t be able to cover him.
Brady’s other option is Danny Woodhead. I expect Woodhead to have a monster game against the Jets because of his abilities in the passing game. When the Jets defense gets after the quarterback, Brady will be able to dump it off to Woodhead.
If linebackers shade over to watch Woody over the top, then 6-11 yard passes will be open on their side of the middle of the field.
Brady is the best in the game at hitting his receivers in stride, so his receivers should be able to turn up-field after catching the pass and gain an extra few yards.
Overall, Brady now has three guys he can rely on when there are heavy blitzes, and initially against the Jets he only had one.
Further, the Jets better have a plan for stopping Rob Gronkowski. Gronkowski has the speed to beat every Jet linebacker (with the exception of Calvin Pace, who will likely be pass rushing in most situations), and the size to run over the Jets safeties.
Gronk should be an absolute terror for the The 5′ 8″, 185 pound Jim Leonhard and the 6′ 2″, 205 pound Brodney Pool.
The Jets Run Defense: Susceptible to the Patriots’ Rushing Attack?
Lastly, look for a lot of draw plays from the Patriots in the early going of the game. The Jets love to turn on the heat, and Ben Jarvus Green-Ellis, being the 1-cut back that he is, has the power to get through most holes without dancing in the backfield.
The draw should soften the Jets front seven and also slow the pass rush.
Offensively this Patriots team matches up well against the Jets. Sans Moss, their offense is far more versatile.
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