By Tom E. Curran
FOXBORO - On Monday, Rex Ryan flogged himself for making his game plan too complex in the Week 13 meeting with the Patriots.
Offensively, the Jets tried to up the tempo and go no-huddle. Defensively . . . not sure what they were trying to do. Hence, the 45-3 loss.
But such is the risk when playing a team that is well aware of your tendencies and personnel as the Patriots are with the Jets.
Sunday will be the third meeting of the season between the teams. The most recent meeting was barely a month ago. Every player, every coach knows what the other side is up to. How do you combat that?
Can you employ the element of surprise without getting too far out of your team's comfort zone? That's the constant question.
Bill Belichick, for all his defensive ingenuity, often refers to the fact his '80s Giants played simple, primitive Cover-2 defense most of the time during their most successful periods.
Yet he leans heavily on being able to tailor his team's attacks.
The Patriots are a team that changes its offensive and defensive scheming week-to-week. They are the very definition of a "game plan" team. For offensive players to one week be totally in sync in a no-huddle, empty-backfield offense and the next week switch to a more conventional, grind-it-out set is a challenge. And it's an even taller order for defenders who switch between three and four-man fronts, passive schemes, aggressive schemes and multiple DB base defenses. If the offense screws up a couple of plays, they punt.
If the defense screws up, they're watching a PAT.
Jerod Mayo was asked to describe the changes he's seen in the Jets since the last meeting.
"We still know what they do but, at the same time, they do a little bit different things in the playoffs," Mayo explained. "Against the Colts, they showed some different looks."
Asked how hard it is to trot out a bunch of new tricks, Mayo said, "I think it would be very difficult. Both teams won a good amount of games this year. You dont want to change too much and get away from what got you to this point. There will be a few different looks, but at the same time, it will be pretty much the same."