By Tom Kiss
Revenge is something Jet fans know very well and it will be on all Jet fan minds Sunday morning. The New England Patriots are first up for the 2007 New York Jets, a team who ended their season in Foxboro. The Jets added Thomas Jones as a free agent, while the Patriots put together a Madden like off-season in bringing in Adalius Thomas, Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Dante Stallworth.
This will be a big litmus test for the Jets to start the season, but if you look closely, perhaps the Jets are catching the Patriots at the right time. New England will be playing without Rodney Harrison (suspension) and Richard Seymour (injury), while Randy Moss has not played much this pre-season which kept him out of the loop for Tom Brady’s attention. This will be a hard fought game, and it should be interesting to see how year two of the Mangini era will start off.
When the Jets have the ball:
Thomas Jones missed a lot of time this pre-season with a strange calf injury. Pete Kendall was traded to Washington, leaving the team with Jacob Bender, a rookie out of 1-AA Nichols State, at left guard. Will the Jets be much better this season running the ball? The answer would be yes, but itâ€™s not the slam dunk it was before camp opened. Perhaps Jones would have been playing had the games counted but Mangini was being cautious (i.e. Curtis Martin).Â Losing Kendall will hurt more than Mangini seems to expect. Perhaps Bender will be a solid offensive lineman, but his rookie mistakes between sophomores D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold could be detrimental.
Chad Pennington did not look good this pre-season. There is no question about that. The real question is, does it matter? Pennington should perform better in the regular season, but the offensive line has got to be a question mark. Look to see Mangini and OC Brian Schottenheimer let Pennington get comfortable on the field by allowing him to make his own decisions at the line.Â They also hope this will confuse the Patriot defense. Laveraneus Coles and Jerricho Cotchery will look to continue their success from last year, and look for five plus catches from each.
When the Patriots have the ball:
Â Tom Brady. As much as we Jet fans hate to admit it, this guy is good. In fact, he’s what everyone thought Pennington would be after his magical season in 2002. Simply put, Brady does not make many mistakes and that consistency is what drives this offense. In the second meeting between the two teams last season, the Jets disrupted this by blitzing like crazy. Expect to see the Jets send Kerry Rhodes, Jonathan Vilma, Bryan Thomas, and anyone else with a uniform on after Brady. Rookie Darrell Revis will start at CB for the Jets and he will be tested early and often.
On the ground the Patriots will be going with a steady does of Laurence Maroney. The Jets did not look good against the run this pre-season, but expect to see the Jet D come ready to play this week. Dewayne Robertson should continue stepping forward in his education at nose tackle, and the Jet linebackers Victor Hobson, Eric Barton along withÂ Vilma and Thomas should benefit from better defensive line play.
Match up of the game:
Eric Mangini vs. Bill Belicheck
Last year I only did the players for this section, but this will be the real match up of the game. It was very interesting watching how these teams learned from one another last season, with New England winning the first and last of the three games played. Mangini will look for revenge this week.
NYJ 23 – NE 20