Simply put, an extremely efficient offense is the Jets’ best defense.
That’s not often the game plan with a Rex Ryan defense, but such is the case against an agitated Tom Brady and a lethal Patriots passing attack on Sunday.
As evidenced by Gang Green’s 17-16 win over the Colts last weekend, what matters is not necessarily the number of points or how they got there, but how long it took them to get there. For the Jets, it is almost as important to move the ball and keep the clock ticking as it is to cross the goal line.
In the wild-card win, they held the ball for six minutes longer than Peyton Manning. Even if 17 points was among the team’s lowest offensive outputs of the season, the Jets are likely to bring the same philosophy to Foxborough.
“Brady is like Manning, different offense and different things they try to do with the ball, but they’re both great quarterbacks who can hurt you when they’ve got a chance,” nose tackle Sione Pouha said. “So when your offense takes the ball out of his hands, it’s a good thing. When we keep the ball like we did on Saturday, the outcome is that the other quarterback is on the sidelines.”
And the sideline is the only place Brady can’t hurt the Jets.
The Jets lost the battle of time of possession in the 45-3 loss at New England in Week 13 due largely to three turnovers and an offensive game plan that got away from the running game after falling behind 17-0 by the end of the first quarter. The Jets are hoping to establish their ground game earlier this time around and not reach panic mode where they need to throw the ball and get points in a hurry.
Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, who drew criticism for much of the season for throwing the ball too much, praised his unit after Saturday’s Wild Card game. Schottenheimer was pleased to see his offense hold the ball for more than 33 minutes and register an impressive 23 first downs, 10 of which came from the ground game.
“We know that Brady is a great player and they have a lot of weapons,” left guard Matt Slauson said. “The more we hold onto the ball, the less likely they are to make plays, it really is as simple as that.”
The Jets look at a formula to determine offensive success and it surprisingly has nothing to do with points. Head coach Rex Ryan compiles the number of running plays with passes completed from a game to determine the effectiveness of the game plan from the week prior. Quarterback Mark Sanchez had an efficient 18 completions on Saturday and the running backs coupled with Brad Smith in the Wildcat package carried the ball a total of 37 times. That is 55 plays for the Jets that by and largely moved the chains and just as importantly, kept the clocking running.
And as a byproduct, the offense kept Manning with a baseball cap on his head rather than a helmet. The Colts, by comparison, managed just 45 completed passes plus run plays on Saturday night. The major reason for the lowness of that number is that they just simply didn’t get that much of the ball.
“I think we went to our core and our core is running the ball,” tight end Dustin Keller said. “We knew that too be effective, we needed to manage the game. On Sunday against a similarly powerful offense, it will be the same thing. Be smart with the ball, run it and move the chains.”
Last time though in Gillette, they failed to do just that in a game that was anything but a close shave.
In their Week 13 blowout loss, the Jets managed just a combined 44 completions and rushes from their backfield against the Patriots. While the difference in that category between last Saturday’s win against the Colts and the 42-point loss to the Patriots doesn’t equate to a Jets victory, it is a giant piece to the puzzle if New York wants to beat the Patriots and avenge their Monday night defeat.
“It’s very important; we’ve got Tom Brady on the other team. We have to keep him on the sideline as long as we can,” running back Shonn Greene said. “That will be a key to our success in winning this game.”