by Dan Zeigarnik, Patriots Daily Staff
September 18, 2009
Going into week 2 against the arch-rival Jets, there are a lot of concerns for the Patriots. They had no business winning against the Bills in week one. Jerod Mayo is out for half the season, relegating a weak unit to a downright pathetic one. And that was against the Bills! Personally, I don’t mind the Patriots struggling early on, as it’s going to take time for the corners and d-linemen to mature and mesh and for Tom Brady to return back to form. Now, the Patriots are going into the Meadowlands against an improved Jets team despite their middle-school attitude exuded by Rex Ryan and Kerry Rhodes. It will be interesting to see how it will all play out. Here are my top 5 match-ups this coming week:
1) Pats O-line vs. Jets Pass Rush
Tom Brady seemed rushed against the Bills, as he had little time to go down field. Conversely, the Bills defense anchored by new arrivals Bart Scott and Chris Jenkins, forced Matt Schaub’s fantasy owners to frantically search for a replacement. So, the offensive line will have their first big challenge on their hands as they are tasked with protecting Tom’s newly minted knee. The offensive line was exposed by the Giants in that awful game and it was no surprise to see the Patriots management team draft several linemen. Look for some of them to step up big in these coming weeks.
2) Sanchez vs. Pats Defensive Scheme
Mark Sanchez definitely held his own in his first NFL start. However, the members of Texans defensive coaching staff are hardly the masterminds that Belichick and Dean Pees are. Hopefully, the Pats plan will be confusing enough for the young quarterback and force him into some untimely mistakes.
3) Jets Running Game vs. the Pats Linebackers
The Bills desecrated the Patriots defense with the short passing game to Fred Jackson. The Jets, however, have a more conventional running game with three very competent backs to share the load. If the Patriots linebackers learn how to stop the run, it will surely bode well for their playoff chances. This is no small task considering they are holding the Mayo, so-to-speak, for the time being.
4) Pats short passing game vs. Jets Corners
The key to the game will be the Patriots short passing game. Conventional wisdom on 98.5 the Spooorts Huuubbb is that Jets will stop the long ball and the running game. So the game will be riding on the quick dinks and dunks that Tom Brady is so good at.
5) Jerricho Cotchery vs. Leigh Bodden
Leigh Bodden impressed against the Bills’ formidable wide receivers in his first game as a Patriot. It will be interesting to see if he can fill the void Asante Samuel left when the ownership refused to give him the money he rightfully deserved. This week he will most likely be lined up against Cotchery who is one of the truly underrated starting wide receivers in the NFL.