The Patriots don’t always get to the quarterback but when they do, it often results in a strip sack.
On Sunday, in the third quarter of what turned into a Patriots blowout win, defensive end Rob Ninkovich timed his edge rush perfectly to hit Colts quarterback Andrew Luck in the midst of his throwing motion.
“New England has forced six strip sacks this season. No. 50, I think Ninkovich or whatever his name is, [he] is a good player but I know him by number,” Jets head coach Rex Ryan said. “They do a great job of attacking the football.”
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Protection has been an issue for the Jets all year, having conceded 25 quarterback takedowns.
Even though Ryan wasn’t certain about his name, the rest of the league is stepping up and taking note of Ninkovich and his growing reputation for strip sacks. It is something that the Patriots defensive end isn’t afraid to embrace.
“Yeah, I mean, I’m not going to not take it. Obviously it’s everything that is helping the team out. Having our defense get a lot of turnovers is one of the best things we do. Obviously there are some things that you don’t want to give up — yardage and stuff like that,” Ninkovich said after Sunday’s win over the Colts. “But when you can lead the league in turnovers that speaks a lot for what we do on defense. We might give up a yard here or there, but when you’re turning the ball over, especially to our offense that’s going to score every time they get the ball, it just sets you up to be good in the fourth quarter.”
New England isn’t terribly effective at getting to the quarterback, with just 15 sacks this year, but four came in the Jets’ Week 7 loss at New England. The last was a strip-sack and fumble by Sanchez in overtime, recovered by Ninkovich, to end the game.
Ball control is always a big part of the game, but it will be even bigger on Thursday night. The Patriots boast a +20 turnover differential.
“They do a great job of rushing the passer technique wise, they do a great job of that,” Ryan said. “It’s something they’re always thinking. They don’t always think sacks they think turnovers.”
The Jets, for comparison, have a +1 turnover differential.
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.