NFL Nation: Maurquice Cole

Quick Take: Jets at Patriots

January, 9, 2011
Three things to know about Sunday's New York Jets at New England Patriots divisional-round playoff game:

1. Getting past what happened in Week 13 won't be easy for the Jets. Their humiliating 45-3 loss will be a psychological barrier they must conquer. The Jets need to find a way to make up 43 points when they return to the scene of their wretched display in front of a "Monday Night Football" audience. It probably will be easier for the Jets' offense to close the gap than it will be for their defense to smother Tom Brady's high-performance outfit. The Patriots haven't scored fewer than 31 points since Nov. 7, lighting up the Pittsburgh Steelers, Indianapolis Colts, Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears along the way. The 1991 Detroit Lions were the last team to lose by 40 points in the regular season and have a rematch in the playoffs. The Washington Redskins defeated them 41-0 the first time and 41-10 in the postseason.

2. New England's run defense will decide the game. Unless Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez drinks a magic efficiency potion, he's not going to be able to beat the opportunistic Patriots defense without a sound run game. The Jets were able to overcome Sanchez's shaky play and beat the Colts on Saturday night because of a forceful ground attack. The Jets rushed for 169 yards and averaged 4.4 yards a carry. LaDainian Tomlinson ran 16 times for 82 yards and two touchdowns. New England's run defense has been up and down throughout the season. The Lions averaged 4.8 yards on Thanksgiving, the Jets averaged 4.9 yards in Week 13, and the Buffalo Bills averaged 6.0 yards in Week 16. But the Patriots held seven opponents below 4 yards a carry, including in three of their last four games.

3. The Patriots' offense has multiple ways to win. The Colts were incapable of running Saturday night even though Peyton Manning counted seven defensive backs at times. "They had [cornerback Marquice] Cole at defensive end," Manning said. The Jets then contained Manning by letting him dink and dunk -- aside from one blown play, a 57-yard touchdown pass to Pierre Garcon in the second quarter. Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis held Reggie Wayne to one catch for 1 yard. But the Patriots can bulldoze the Jets if they have to. Patriots running backs BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead will keep Rex Ryan's defense honest. And if the Jets gear up too much to stop the run, there's that Brady fellow to contend with.

Final Word: Jets-Colts

January, 7, 2011
Wild-card Final Word: NY Jets-Indy | Baltimore-K.C. | N.O.-Seattle | G.B.-Philadelphia

Three nuggets of knowledge about Saturday’s Jets-Colts wild-card game:

[+] EnlargeNew York Jets coach Rex Ryan
AP Photo/Bill KostrounNew York Jets coach Rex Ryan will try to avenge last season's AFC Championship Game loss this Saturday against the Colts.
If the Jets were the type of team to look ahead, they would admit the Patriots are their biggest concern today. We're speaking, of course, about a team coached by a guy who in the summer scrawled on the side of a tour bus that his team would be Super Bowl champions, a guy who on last year's postseason itinerary scheduled a ticker-tape parade through the Canyon of Heroes. So we know the Jets aren't very good at adhering to the "one game at a time" chestnut. The Colts look vulnerable (by their standards), and the Jets can draw confidence from last year's AFC Championship Game that they will compete Saturday night. Against the teams the Jets probably would face in this year's conference title game, the Jets own a recent victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field and a lost a close one to the Baltimore Ravens in the season opener. So that would leave figuring out how to beat the Patriots next week at Gillette Stadium, where the Patriots won 45-3. That probably makes the look-ahead Jets more nervous than the Colts do.

Lesser names in the Jets' secondary will be in the spotlight as much as Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie. The "other guys" must step up to stop Colts quarterback Peyton Manning from waltzing down the field. Drew Coleman, who has shown a knack for big plays this season, will be the starting nickelback. Dwight Lowery, Kyle Wilson and Marquice Cole also will have roles in the Jets' sub packages. The defensive backfield is more flexible than it was in last year's AFC title game. Lowery started opposite Revis and surrendered nine receptions for 124 yards and a touchdown. Manning won't strike so hotly against Cromartie. That said, the Jets will need safeties Brodney Pool and Eric Smith to play well on the big stage. The Jets lost safety Jim Leonhard to a broken leg in early December, making Pool and Smith targets for opposing quarterbacks in the middle of the field.

Even a year later and with more weapons, the Jets still must limit the need for Mark Sanchez to win the game. In last year's playoffs, the Jets' objective was run, run and run some more, hope to get an early lead and then keep running until the clock struck 0:00. Sanchez completed just 12 passes in road victories against the Cincinnati Bengals and San Diego Chargers. Against the Colts in the AFC Championship Game, Sanchez was forced to throw because the Jets trailed in the third quarter -- and by the dreaded two scores with about nine minutes left in the fourth quarter. The Jets' front office helped their offense evolve into a team that could come from behind. They traded for Santonio Holmes and added LaDainian Tomlinson as a receiving threat out of the backfield. The Jets went from a team that ran on 58.9 percent of their plays in 2009 to one that ran 49.1 percent of the time this season. Even so, the Jets can't trade throws with Manning and the Colts. The Jets must establish themselves as the superior physical team -- which they are -- with a steady amount of Shonn Greene runs against a Colts run defense that has improved but still can be forgiving. From there, Sanchez can run play-action passes.