On Tuesday New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan indicated that if the New England Patriots play man-to-man coverage on Thursday night, they will throw away from cornerback Aqib Talib. This could give the Patriots a huge advantage on defense which could be a key to victory considering their most recent loss on offense.
Talib, a Pro Bowl caliber cornerback, was acquired three weeks ago but made his debut for the Patriots on Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts after his four game suspension expired. In that game he returned an interception for a touchdown showing the skill that made him the most dangerous threat on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense.
If what Ryan said is true, it gives the Patriots a much needed advantage. The Patriots defensive secondary this season has been suspect to say the least, and it’s been their explosive offense that’s led to their 7-3 start. But the Patriots have lost two of their most dangerous weapons this season and they could be gone for a while. Tight end Aaron Hernandez was injured in week two and hasn’t returned to full health yet, missing the last two games. The Patriots other star tight end, Rob Gronkowski, had surgery to his arm Monday and will be out for at least three weeks.
Ryan’s comments could indicate that they are planning on running the ball more, but that likely won’t make them productive. While the Patriots pass defense has struggled, the rush defense has been superb. Led by defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, the Patriots currently rank 10th in the league in rushing defense. In the first matchup between the two teams, the Patriots held Jets’ starting running back Shonn Greene to just 54 yards on 16 carries.
Forcing the Jets to go away from Talib will force them to throw toward the Patriots other starting cornerback Kyle Arrington. With Santonio Holmes on the injured reserve list, the Jets don’t have a go-to receiver that can be counted on and Talib will likely matchup with Stephen Hill. That will leave Arrington with second-year receiver Jeremy Kerley who has mainly been used by the Jets as a punt returner. Arrington will also have help as the Patriots moved Pro Bowl cornerback Devin McCourty to safety following the acquisition of Talib and McCourty has shown the ability to star at that position as well.
With the Patriots missing both Hernandez and Gronkowski, the offense is likely to be less lethal than usual. Because of that, the defense may need to step up their game to win on Sunday. With a weak running game and Ryan indicating they may throw away from Talib, it may give the Patriots secondary the ability to do an extraordinary job in containing the Jets offense and securing the win.