Different uniforms, same defense.
The Patriots will be facing a stern test with the all-new Jets defense on Sunday, but when it comes to putting together an offensive game plan, there’s no need to start from scratch. Instead, they just need to call up some film of the great Baltimore defenses of the last few years.
New York coach Rex Ryan — the former defensive coordinator of the Ravens — has installed his attacking, blitzing defense with the Jets. It’s the same look. He even imported a few of his old Baltimore defenders (Bart Scott, Jim Leonhard) to make sure the transition would be easier.
“Take everything he did in Baltimore, white out Baltimore and write New York Jets,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said, “and that’s what you've got.
“They do a lot of different things,” Belichick added. “They pressure. They cover. They protect the deep part of the field and they’ll bring the house. A lot of times they overload it, put a lot of guys in one place, and it’s hard for you to get enough people over there to block them.”
The last time the Patriots faced a Ryan-led defense was Dec. 3, 2007. In a Monday night clash in Baltimore, the Ravens pushed New England to the brink, taking a 24-17 lead and making the Patriots sweat in their pursuit of perfection. New England was able to successfully escape with a 27-24 win when Tom Brady hit Jabar Gaffney on a touchdown pass with 44 seconds remaining.
New England players say film from that game — and other Baltimore defensive performances of the past against the Patriots — has been a great way to help prepare for the Jets.
“You can see the similarities," running back Laurence Maroney said. "You can definitely see the similarities in how they try and use their personnel the same way that he used his personnel over there in Baltimore. You can see the same things.
“I’ve been watching that film,” Maroney added when asked about that 2007 game, “and watching Baltimore film and watching a lot of Jets film, and just trying to see a lot of things that Baltimore did that they could possibly do.”
By playing on Monday night, the Patriots were able to get a good look at the Jets in Week 1. On Sunday afternoon, New York got after Houston quarterback Matt Schaub, hitting him eight times and sacking him twice in a 24-7 win over the Texans.
“I think it’s gonna be a good game, I really do,” wide receiver Randy Moss said. “I think we have our work cut out for us. The Jets defense has really picked up.”
The Patriots faced an attacking team in Buffalo in Week 1 and were able to blunt the Buffalo pass rush in the second half with a series of quick passes and slants. Brady was able to deliver the ball to his receivers out of a three-step drop, cutting down his time in the pocket and negating the Buffalo pass rush.
In the past, New England has been able to use its opponents' aggression against them, utilizing various offensive options such as misdirection plays, pump-fakes, draw plays and play-action. Oftentimes, a keyed-up defender will jump at the first offering, leaving the Patriots with an opportunity to attack.
The Jets defense enters the game feeling good about its chances — safety Kerry Rhodes said he wants to “embarrass” New England, and defensive tackle Kris Jenkins said the Jets are treating this game like the Super Bowl.
“Rex Ryan has a signature mark, and they run a very aggressive, attacking style. So it’s an intimidating group,” Brady said. “I think they’re playing with a lot of confidence and we’re going to need to play certainly better than we did the other night.”