By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran
By Tom E. Curran