Jets, Pats will do what they do . . . unless they don't


Jets, Pats will do what they do . . . unless they don't

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."

Tom E. Curran can be reached at Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Not a lot of talk about Cannon this season, and that's a good thing for Patriots


Not a lot of talk about Cannon this season, and that's a good thing for Patriots

Marcus Cannon has had his run as a piñata. The Patriots offensive lineman is a frequent target when things go wrong up front and, usually, he’s deserved it.

A bit of anecdotal evidence? 

Sunday, I tweeted that every time I watched Cannon, he was making another good play.

On cue, about 10 tweets came back at me with variations of “Keep watching him!”

I asked Bill Belichick if he agreed with the layman’s assessment that Cannon’s playing well.

“I think Marcus [Cannon] has done a good job for us for quite a while,” Belichick began. “I mean he’s stepped in for Sebastian [Vollmer] and then last year when Nate [Solder] was out [and he substituted] for Nate. He has played a lot of good football for us.

“We extended our agreement with him off of his rookie contract which I think speaks to the fact that we want him on the team and we like what he’s doing and so forth and he’s continued to I’d say show with his performance [that he has] validated the confidence that we have in him.”

Cannon’s ending to 2015 – a poor performance (along with the rest of the line) against the Broncos in the AFC Championship Game was followed by a performance against the Cardinals that was marred by late-game holding calls.

But with Sebastian Vollmer injured (and still injured) it was sink or swim with Cannon which had plenty of people rolling their eyes.

But – as I said – every time I see Cannon, he’s either holding off a defensive end in pass protection, steamrolling downfield in the running game or making really athletic second-level or cut blocks in the screen game.

“Like every player, as they gain more experience they do get better,” said Belichick. “I think our offensive line’s certainly improved over the course of the year and playing with more consistency than we did last year. But there’s always room for improvement and the continuity that we’ve had there since (right guard) Shaq [Mason] has gotten in the last few weeks – we had Shaq over on the right side a little bit at the end of the season last year and then this year most all of the year except when Shaq was out for a few weeks there at the end of training camp and the start of the season – but our overall consistency and communication on the offensive line has been better because we’ve had more continuity there so that helps everybody.”

It can’t hurt that the lineman whisperer, Dante Scranecchia, has returned to coach the group. Cannon’s conditioning and physique looks better. He just appears more athletic and explosive. And he’s seemed more relaxed in the limited time the media’s in the locker room.

All off that added up equals nobody really talking about Marcus Cannon.
“Like any lineman, the less you call his name probably the better he’s doing,” said Belichick. “It’s probably a good thing when you guys don’t talk about him. Then that probably means they’re not doing something too noticeably wrong, right?”