Coming off a 35-9 victory over Indianapolis in which he passed for only 82 yards because the running game was working so well, quarterback Mark Sanchez said the Jets “saved a ton” of pass plays that can be used this week at New England. After watching Seattle rookie quarterback Russell Wilson throw two touchdown passes in the final 7:21 to upset the Patriots, the Jets just might be tempted to test the NFL’s 28th-ranked pass defense.
The play that was being dissected Monday in New England was Wilson’s 46-yard scoring bomb to Sidney Rice behind the Patriots’ two-deep coverage to win the game. It served to underline the fact that the Patriots have given up an average of 288.8 yards passing per game.
By contrast, New England ranks sixth against the run, yielding 82.7 yards rushing per game. Of course the Jets would like to duplicate their success running the ball against Indianapolis, but it will be much more difficult against a Patriots’ defensive line anchored by tackle Butch Wilfork. Jets running back Shonn Greene is coming off a career-best 161-yard rushing performance, but backups Bilal Powell (shoulder) and Joe McKnight (ankle) both have injuries that could prevent them from playing.
So, the Jets are likely to throw more against the Patriots. “There’s a lot of stuff last week that we didn’t have to use,” wide receiver Chaz Schilens said on Monday. “So, this week it’s just fine-tuning it and being ready for something different again this week. They can play a multitude of different coverages and different looks. Who knows what we’re going to get, but we have to be prepared for a lot of different things.”
Asked if the Pats are vulnerable in the secondary, Schilens (pictured) didn’t want to go there. “I don’t know,” Schilens said. “I’m sure they’ll have their guys playing to their strengths. I’m sure there won’t be too many weaknesses. It will be our job to take advantage of whatever they decide to play.”
Jets coach Rex Ryan has been pushing for his offense to get back to more of a “ground-and-pound” mentality, and he praised the blocking of Dustin Keller and Jeff Cumberland in double-tight end formations for helping them to achieve that goal. Cumberland, in particular, said he spent the offseason working on his blocking to help him get on the field more.
But Cumberland, too, suggested the Jets have a lot of ammunition in the passing game stored up for the Patriots. “Every week we have more pass plays than runs, but you make the runs to different sides and dress it up with a different formation,” Cumberland said. “But there were a lot of pass plays that can transfer over to next week.”