Throughout much of the season, Musket Fire and a site of the team the Patriots were facing exchanged questions so that you could get a glimpse of the game from the other side’s perspective. With the start of the playoffs for the Patriots comes the return of Inside Enemy Territory, and this week’s question exchange comes from Alan Levin of JetsFan.com. To see the questions that I was asked and my responses, click here.
Let’s get to the questions I posed to Alan Levin:
Musket Fire: What’s with all of the trash talking? Are Jets fans on board with it or is it getting old?
Alan Levin: It is definitely getting old but most Jets fans understand that it is part of the territory with Rex Ryan and as long as he continues to gets results they will tolerate it. Say what you will about Ryan but no Jets coach has delivered three playoff victories in his first two seasons (all on the road no less) and as long as he gets the team in the playoffs and keeps winning, fans will put up with the other nonsense.
MF: What impact does the loss of Damien Woody have on the offense?
AL: I thought the Jets were in trouble when Woody was lost for the Pittsburgh and Chicago games but Wayne Hunter did a great job. He shut down LaMarr Woodley and Julius Peppers, arguably two of the best pass rushers in the league. Hunter is good in pass protection but does not get as much movement in the run game and this is where the Jets might miss Woody. But overall Hunter has been solid and I don’t think there will be a big drop off there.
MF: What lessons from Week 13 will the Jets use on Sunday?
AL: The biggest lesson was learned by the coaching staff. Rex Ryan admitted he did not have his guys ready to play and that was apparent from their performance. He went with a lot of man coverage on defense and was burned in a number of those match ups. He also played right into Belichick’s hands early. He attempted a long field goal on their first possession and after Nick Folk missed, Brady had a short field which he took advantage of. The Jets were in a 10-0 hole before they could blink. I expect a much more conservative, field position game plan from Ryan in this one.
MF: The loss of Jim Leonhard seemed to have an impact during the Week 13 meeting. Have the Jets made up for his loss in the secondary since then?
AL: The Jets do not have a replacement for Leonhard but they have gotten better contributions from their safeties since. A big reason the Jets beat the Colts was because of the play of their safeties. Eric Smith and Brodney Pool had their best games as Jets. In the week 13 meeting Smith was pressed into action with little adjustment made to the defensive game plan. Ryan and Pettine admitted they should have scaled things back for him and by not doing so he looked lost out their at times, particularly in coverage. I am still concerned about Smith in coverage on the Patriots’ tight ends and I do not think he matches up well with either.
MF: For the Jets to win Sunday, they have to…
AL: Be physical with the Patriots’ wide outs. Our guys gave free releases in the last match up and were gashed. With the Patriots’ small group of WR’s, the Jets will try to muscle them and wear them down. The Jets have to slow the game down and try to keep Tom Brady off the field as much as possible. They must be conservative in coverage and try to keep plays in front of them. They cannot give up big plays or they are dead. On offense we have to control the line of scrimmage (not easily done against the Pats), run the ball and drain as much clock as possible.