Jets insider Dan Leberfeld of Sirius NFL Radio and Jets Confidential magazine is this week's guest on Behind Enemy Lines.
Q: The Jets have reportedly videotaped the Patriots game in Gillette Stadium last year with an extra camera and were asked to stop, then were escorted away by New England officials. Eric Mangini said that the Jets asked for permission and were not doing anything illegal. According to a Patriots source, New England never granted permission. What do you make of this whole thing? Is this video issue for New York a legit beef by the Patriots, or just something the media dug up to stir up the "Spygate" storyline this week?
Dan Leberfeld: It was something that was dug up. It's a non-story. The Jets did nothing wrong. If it was such a big deal, why did it take so long to get out. Someone from the Patriots leaked the story this week to take some attention away from Spy-gate, and make it seem like the Jets were guilty of the same indiscretion.
Q: Jonathan Vilma is done for the season due to an injury. Vilma reportedly struggled in Mangini's 3-4 defense. Is it possible Vilma will not be back in a Jets uniform next year?
Leberfeld: I would trade Vilma. The knee surgery might make it more difficult, but he should be healthy in another four months. Vilma is much better suited to play in a 4-3 Tampa type defense where an fly around and make plays. If I were running the Detroit Lions, I would jump through hoops to get Vilma to play MLB between Boss Bailey and Ernie Sims.
Vilma is a heck of a player, but at 6-0, 230, he's just not a good fit to constantly take on guards in the 3-4 defense.
Q: Last year, the Jets drafted a number of players the Patriots were interested in. It turns out New England has lost, or cut most of their 2007 Draft class. Tell us how players from the Jets 2007 Draft class have fared, notably DB Darrelle Revis and LB David Harris
Leberfeld: It looks like the Jets did the right thing trading up to get Revis and Harris. They are both the real deal, and will be centerpieces of the Jets defense for years to come. Revis is a smart, athletic cornerback with the great character. You could see how talented he is on Thanksgiving when he did a terrific job on TO. Harris is a perfect linebacker for the 3-4 because he's big and physical. But he also has good speed, and does a decent job in coverage.
Also, the Jets had no fourth round pick, but recently able to claim New England's 2007 fourth round pick - DE Kareem Brown, who has a future with Gant Green.
Q: Although the Patriots aren't known for being a running team, what's a bigger concern for the Jets on Sunday, their rush defense, or their pass defense?
Leberfeld: If the weather is bad on Sunday, the run defense will be a big concern. The Jets run defense has been suspect most of the year. They still need to add some parts play the 3-4 on a higher level.
If the weather isn't a big problem, than the pass defense will be the main concern. The Jets pass defense has improved since the bye week, but the Patriots pass offense is a problem everybody they face. The Jets pass rush is average, and this can be an enormous problem against New England because you can't give Brady time because he will kill you.
Q: What are your three keys for the Jets on Sunday?
Leberfeld: The number one key is for Kellen Clemens to play a lot better than he did against Cleveland last week. Think about it. If you can't move the ball against the NFL's 32nd ranked defense at home, what are you going to do against New England at home? He has to stay away from costly picks.
The second key is providing a constant pass rush on defense. The Jets don't have a dynamic pass rusher, so they often have to scheme their way to the quarterback. But if they blitz too much, Brady will exploit that because he's so good at hot reads. The Jets need to create as much of a natural pass rush as possible.
The third key is the Jets need to be the better team on special teams. Leon Washington probably has an edge in the return game against Chad Jackson. Washington has three returns for touchdowns this year. Jets placekicker Mike Nugent is red hot. The Jets desperately need to win this 1/3 of the game because the other 2/3rds are going to be very difficult to win.