Challenge for Brady is deciphering Jets' D


Challenge for Brady is deciphering Jets' D

By Tom E. Curran Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
FOXBORO Last January, the New York Jets hatched a scheme that had Tom Brady hearing footsteps and the Patriots receivers seeing . . . not much.
The defense unveiled by Rex Ryan took away the inside of the field where Wes Welker does so much damage and dared Deion Branch to beat coverage to the outside. Seven and eight defenders dropped into coverage to deal with Brandon Tate, the tight ends and backs leaking out of the backfield. The defensive line was charged with generating pass rush with minimal blitzing. The plan worked. Brady struggled. But he didn't only struggle post-snap, he seemed to have a hard time pre-snap as well. And that's the time Brady usually sets himself apart, deciphering defenses before the play begins so he knows where he's going with the football. The Jets and head coach Rex Ryan make that hard to accomplish. "Basically, they have enough variety and flexibility in their defense that they do a number of different things," Bill Belichick explained Wednesday. "You don't too many times look at them and say, 'Geez, there's something we've never seen before.' But they give you a lot of different looks. It's not like you can say, 'Well, I knew what we were gonna get here.' ... It's unusual you see something (they put in specifically for a single opponent). There's a lot of carryover in what they do in the system but they do it out of a lot of different looks."The presence of Darrelle Revis, arguably the best corner in the league, allows New York so much freedom to show different things defensively. Since he can lock down an opponent's best receiver by himself,offenses are reallylosing thewhole quadrant in which Revis works as an area to attack. Belichick doesn't deify Revis like Ryan does, but the scout-speak of the Patriots coach shows he holds Revis in high regard. "Very good player," said Belichick. "Solid. Does everything well. Good run force, good tackler, covers well in man-to-man, instinctive in zone, good ball skills, doesn't get very many penalties in tight coverage. He's good. Very good. Both those guys (Revis and Antonio Cromartie)are good. They line up every down and play a lot of man-to-man coverage (and do well)."Cromartie isn't the solid, consistent player Revis is, but he is stunningly athletic. There are times when he can be exploited (small, quick receivers) and times when he can't be thrown upon (downfield, long-striders). The Patriots would be well-equipped to attack the Jets if they were at full strength offensively. They aren't. Danny Woodhead's got an ankle issue, Aaron Hernandez is still working back from his MCL injury and may not play, and Chad Ochocinco still hasn't made himself a viable target. If Welker, Branch and Rob Gronkowski are bottled up, someone else will have to emerge. And Belichick cautioned against the Jets having another across-the-board down day like they did against Baltimore. "It wasn't one of their better days," he said. "We've all been there before. But I think on balance, when you look at the team across the board and not just a handful of plays, they're a solid team and do a lot of things well. ... I'm impressed with them and I have a lot of respect for them. ... I wouldn't overreact to the Baltimore game."Tom E. Curran can be reached at Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Titans roll to 36-22 victory over Jaguars


THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Titans roll to 36-22 victory over Jaguars

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - There's nothing like a visit from the Jacksonville Jaguars to make the Tennessee Titans remember how to protect their home field.

Marcus Mariota threw for 270 yards and two touchdowns to end his home struggles and the Titans had their highest point total of the season in a 36-22 victory over the Jaguars on Thursday night.

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Develin stays on top of tight end techniques in case he's next man up


Develin stays on top of tight end techniques in case he's next man up

FOXBORO -- Once the Patriots traded AJ Derby to the Broncos for a fifth-round pick earlier this week, they were left with just two tight ends on their roster. While those two tight ends -- Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett -- have played as two of the best tight ends in football this season, it's a position group that has been considerably thinned. 

Until coach Bill Belichick adds another player at that spot, James Develin would be the logical "next man up." A position group unto himself as the team's lone active fullback -- the other fullback in the locker room is practice-squad player Glenn Gronkowski -- Develin meets with Patriots tight ends and coach Brian Daboll on a daily basis because the fullback and tight-end responsibilities in the Patriots offense are similar, particularly in the run game.

As much time as he spends with that group, Develin tries to absorb what he can when it comes to the nuances of the position. 

"I always kind of try to prepare, obviously, for my fullback role, but then in any other role that I might be called upon for," Develin said on Thursday. "A couple years ago, we had a bunch of injuries during the offseason program, during OTAs, and I filled in a little bit at tight end. I try to keep myself familiar with all those techniques and that tight end role so if the day were to come where I needed to go out there and do it, I'd be able to go out there and do it."

When the Patriots began the season relying more on the run, Develin was called upon to play a relatively significant role in the offense. He averaged 21.3 snaps per game through the first three games of the season, but that number has fallen to 13.6 since Tom Brady's return from a four-game suspension. Still, his role can be a critical one. 

The Patriots' running game faltered last season after both Blount and Dion Lewis went down with season-ending injuries. Having Develin in the mix as an extra blocker would not have guaranteed a more efficient attack, but it may have helped the team's running-game woes late in the year. 

Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels now has the luxury of bringing Develin onto the field when he wants some added muscle for his blocking schemes, and should the Patriots need a tight end in a pinch, Develin could do that too.

"A lot of times, especially in the blocking game, really the only difference [between fullback and tight end] is that I'm five yards off the ball in the backfield and they're up on the line," Develin said. "The angles are a little bit different. But a lot of times the assignment is typcially the same thing. It's just the technique of getting there and the angles that you take.

"Then in the passing game, as a tight end, there's just a lot more routes and stuff like that. I try to work on that to help me as a fullback to be a little bit better in space . . . It's a sybiotic relationship." 

As it is, Develin will line up occasionally outside. Though not a threat as a receiver in that spot in the same way that Gronkowski or Bennett would be, he understands some of the different looks tight ends have to be comfortable with.

If an emergency arose and he was asked to fill that role, he wouldn't hesitate.

"There's a little bit of carry-over depending on what we're doing or whatever play we have called where I'll line up on the line," he said. "But that's kind of what a fullback has to do. You kind of have to be able to be thrown into whatever position on the field that you gotta do and you gotta just do your job."