Leave it to Eric Mangini and his co-conspirator, Mike Tannenbaum, to bring some dime-store psychology to a Grand Masters’ Chess Match by acquiring the former New England Patriot/New York Jet/KC Chief CB Ty Law this week. Although, if you read the press release announcing the signing, you might find that there may be more than his defensive skills are not the only thing that is slipping away from the former All-Pro cornerback.
Here’s what the Law Man said to NFL.com’s Adam Schefter on Monday afternoon:
“This is going to be different playing Thursday night against the Patriots, matching up against my former team and the players I’m used to practicing against,” Law said as he was packing in Boston to drive to New York only to return to Boston again on Wednesday.
“I know they’re going to throw at me, but I welcome the challenge.”
Okay, whaaa? What was Ty smoking to think that he was just recently practicing against anyone on the Pats squad? Sure, the last time he played for the Pats was on Halloween – in 2004. That’s four years ago, folks. I don’t know about you but things change fast in four years; especially in the ultra-competitive league that was labeled so eloquently by Jerry Glanville as the “Not For Long” league.
Maybe Ty doesn’t want to remember that he left Foxboro, went to NYJ, stayed for one season, went to the Chiefs for two seasons before finding the unemployed CB line. But it makes me wonder – did he turn to someone to help him forget? Did he go to a hypnotist? Or was it a homeopathic remedy? Is it possible that someone has been dabbling in the Pineapple Express while waiting for the phone to ring? Did Ricky not lose his number?
However, before you start sending your complaints towards Coach Belichick and Scott Pioli, I have a feeling that the Pats didn’t want to stop the “inevitable” family reunion between Law and second-year CB Darrelle Revis. Again from the Schefter piece:
“That’s my little boy,” said the 34-year-old Law. “I’ve watched him grow up and to be able to help him now, it’ll be a good deal. He’s wearing No. 24, and he’s representing me. He’s a stud, and it’s going to be more of a pleasure to watch him grow.”… “The Jets are going to move me around, make me a corner-slash-safety, a corner hybrid,” Law said. “A lot of guys move back inside and play. Eric will do some creative things with me and I’ll get to mentor Darrelle.”
Aww, doesn’t that give you a nice warm and fuzzy. While Law may be seeing things through a rose-colored visor, I do question his use of the term “corner hybrid”. I know that it is in vogue during these geo-political times to use “hybrid” in everything, but I think that putting that term to describe basically a nickel/dime CB is insulting to all involved. (On the other hand, if he used the new auto buzzword “crossover”, he would’ve sounded like he was on the cutting edge of a new defensive role.)
Alright, enough of the Ty Law grizzle. It’s now time to look at the steak…
Shirley, You Jets Jest
Here’s the uncensored truth – the New York Jets are a good football team. On defense, they are 5th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game, 10th in the NFL in total yards allowed per game, 10th in the NFL in interceptions, and 2nd in the league with 31 sacks. On offense, the Jets are 3rd in the NFL with an average of 28.3 points per game, 9th in the NFL in rushing yards, 2nd in the NFL in yards per attempt and 2nd in pass completion percentage. Any time that a team can make it into a Top 10 of those categories, it is a good thing.
So, while others are shying away from providing a breakdown of how the Pats should attack the Jets, never fear – that’s what Line ‘Em Up was created to do. Believe me, it’s not an easy task but if Coach Belichick can do the following things on both sides of the ball, you can mark that W on your NFL-licensed team schedule.
First, on offense, make Mangini use Ty Law by bringing in 4WRs or 3 WRs and 2 TEs. Spread out the formation and find the open man in a quick three-step to five-step drop. Again, Cassel can’t wait all day and if there’s nothing there, he needs to throw it away. But based on the Jets’ 20th-ranked pass defense, there should be holes for Welker, Moss, Gaffney and even Thomas/Watson to work.
Also, in this formation, utilize the old stand-by that worked in the early part of Brady’s career – the shovel pass. Make the hard charging Jets think twice about racing to get to the QB. Also, throw in an occasional screen pass – even if it loses yards it will keep the d-line honest.
Lastly, it may be time to run the ball to the right for the majority of the carries. Obviously, gains may not be substantial but the RILB is a position which the Jets are hurting and DE Shaun Ellis is averaging a smidge under 3 tackles per game while the starting ROLB (Bryan Thomas) is barely averaging 4 tackles per game. Yards can be had if Neal, Hochstein, Yates and Kaczur can get off their blocks and head downfield without grabbing a handful of jersey under the watchful eye of the zebras.
Let’s turn our attention to the Pats defense – a squad that is becoming the pride of the Foxboro fans. How can they slow down Thomas Jones and the one-time QB from Green Bay? Again, easier said then done.
First, take away Jones, Leon Washington and any other RB. In two of the three losses by the Jets (the Oakland game is a true anomaly), their running game was held under 22 rushing attempts and under 110 yards total. Taking away any ground game puts the ball squarely in the hands of Number 4.
Now, once the ball is in Favre’s hands, the Pats have to pressure him often. In those same three losses, the Jets’ QB was sacked an average of 3+ times. The Pats aren’t exactly the second coming of Blitzburgh, but the defense wants Favre to get Happy Feet. Because A Happy Foot Favre means an overthrowing Favre which morphs into Interception Favre, something else in which he is the All-Time NFL Leader.
Last of all, the Pats need to continue to stop the big passing play. Favre can pull a rose out of a fertilizer bed every once in a while and Cotchery (and Coles to a lesser degree) can burn the Pats DBs if attention to detail wanes when trying to rattle Favre. I would still employ a Cover Two scheme for the majority of the first half snaps. If Favre gets frustrated enough by checking down, he will be more likely to chuck it and pray that his WRs can get under the ball. Once he does that, you can shut the door on an AFC East Championship for the New York Jets.
Next week is a early Sunday game against the Flying Fish of Miami. Will New England suffer their usual Pro Player hangover or will they all but put a bow on the AFC East Regular Season Championship with a win? Come back in eight days and find out.
Britt Schramm’s ‘Line Em Up’ appears weekly on Patriots Daily. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.