New England has won the last eight meetings against the Jets at Giants Stadium, but will be seeing a much different defensive unit this time, especially in terms of philosophy.
"Rex Ryan, he instills that in us to be an aggressive defense," said third-year cornerback Darrelle Revis. "I mean, it's totally different from the last two years I've been here. ... We're playing loose and relentless, which is great for the defense. We love it. It's like nobody's holding us back. We know the game plan, we know what everybody's going to do. ... Let's go play. That's great for us. We love it and we're having fun with it."
Former coach Eric Mangini's defense was much more of the read-and-react variety.
"You've got to know your players," Revis said, "and I'm not saying Mangini didn't or his coaching staff didn't, but we have a lot of athletic guys on this team. ... We've got a lot of players that can do a lot of things. It's great for our defense to now have a coach come in here and say, 'OK, we're going to do this. We're going to move you here. We're going to do this and we're going to do that.' It's great for us and we're seeing it pay off."
Consider that Houston averaged 382.1 yards of total offense last season, third in the NFL. The Texans were limited to 183 yards by the Jets.
The key, linebacker Bart Scott said, was the Jets' ability to play very physical against the finesse-oriented Titans, making it difficult for them to run their offense.
But, he noted, "We've got to prepare even harder (this week) because we've got a better opponent. An opponent that has the ability to adjust its game plan on the fly on the sideline."
"You start with (Tom) Brady," safety Jim Leonhard said, assessing the offensive strengths of the Patriots. "You don't confuse him very often."
And while the Texans don't vary their offensive game plans all that much from week to week, the Patriots do.
"You don't know what you're going to get," Leonhard said. "They might come out in different personnel groups for the first 15 plays."
And while Houston's offense is based mostly around wide receiver Andre Johnson and running back Steve Slaton, both of whom were rendered non-factors by the Jets, the Patriots can take their offense in many different directions.
"They'll feature (slot receiver Wes) Welker," Leonhard said. "(Or) they'll feature (wideout Randy) Moss. (Or) they'll feature (running back Kevin) Faulk. They've got so many weapons. ... If you present certain problems for them, they feel like they have the answers. That's the chess match."
One that Ryan relishes.
"We see what this defense could be," he said of the Jets' unit. "I think it could be a dominant group. This week, of course, we have New England coming in here with Tom Brady.
"But like we always say," he added, "they've got to face us too."
--The oft-maligned Jets' wide receiver corps showed with their performance against Houston that maybe they don't need a veteran wideout such as Denver's Brandon Marshall. Starters Jerricho Cotchery and Chansi Stuckey had six receptions for 90 yards and four catches for 64 yards, respectively.
"We're going to have receivers by committee," coach Rex Ryan said. "Each guy can do different things. ... We've got NFL receivers. And they did a good job."
On the Jets' 87-yard touchdown drive to begin the second half, Cotchery had two receptions, including a 25-yarder to the Houston 39 on which he made a nice move for additional yardage. And Stuckey caught QB Mark Sanchez's first NFL touchdown pass, a 30-yarder in the second quarter on which Houston nickel back Brice McCain let Stuckey go right by him, apparently believing he had deep help.
However, nobody else picked up Stuckey and he was wide open in the end zone. Sanchez "gave me a ball I could catch," Stuckey said. "It was straight man-to-man and an all-out blitz."
--Former Rutgers standout Jamaal Westerman, an undrafted rookie free agent, sacked Matt Schaub for a 13-yard loss in the fourth quarter. Westerman credited the push of his teammates toward the Houston offensive line for giving him the chance to get the takedown.
"We've got a 24-hour rule" for celebrating wins, he said with a smile, "but because it's my first (sack), I might celebrate for 25 hours."
--LB Vernon Gholston, who started because Calvin Pace is serving a four-game suspension, didn't get a sack but did record a tackle for loss on running back Steve Slaton, trapping him for minus-1 yard in the second quarter.
Gholston was credited with three tackles. When asked Monday how he played, Ryan replied, "up and down. (He) played well at times. ... He did a lot of good things. Again, he helped cause a number of hits on the quarterback. (He) took two guys with him occasionally and then was able to push the pocket a little bit."
But Ryan does want to see more aggressiveness from Gholston, noting that he wants him to be involved in gang-tackling more often.
"If there's a little piece of fabric that you can hit before that guy is down," Ryan said, "then go take a shot at him. Once we get that mentality, we can improve in that area. Not just Vernon, but all of our guys. We want to have some gang-tackling and swarming piles."
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