NY Jets at New England Game Preview

Breakdown preview of the New York Jets at New England Patriots battle in week-three of the NFL season.

New York Jets (0-2) at New England Patriots (1-1)


KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET


TV: CBS, Dick Enberg, Dan Dierdorf

SERIES: 87th meeting. Jets lead series, 47-38-1, and the two teams are 20-20 against one another in the last 40 meetings dating back to 1983.


The scoring is remarkably close given the number of head-to-head meetings, with the Jets leading the all-time scoring 1,919-1,891. The Jets have won eight of the last 11 meetings and are 7-3 against the Patriots since Curtis Martin left New England for New York. The Patriots are 20-21 vs. the Jets at home and 0-1 at Gillette Stadium. The Jets

have won the last five times they visited Foxborough.


2003 RANKINGS: Jets: offense 26th (32nd rush, 10th pass); defense 23rd (30th rush, 9th pass). Patriots: offense 25th (23rd rush, 20th pass); defense 13th (20th rush, 13th pass)


KEYS TO THE GAME: The Jets are determined to stick with the running game this week, and the Patriots might prove a good defense to run against. New England is minus LBs Ted Johnson and Rosevelt Colvin, and will alternate between 3-4 and 4-3 fronts to keep the Jets guessing. But RB Curtis Martin must take pressure off the passing

game, and the offense must start producing touchdowns in the red zone. Stopping New England's spread offense is a daunting task for a Jets defense that is slow at linebacker and minus injured CB Donnie Abraham.


FAST FACTS: Jets: The team's 78 rushing yards is the fourth-lowest total through the first two games of a season in NFL history. ... The team is 15-1 under coach Herman Edwards when it wins the turnover battle. ... The team is 6-0 against the Patriots when RB Curtis Martin rushes for at least 100 yards. Patriots: The team has won six of its past

eight home openers, outscoring opponents 198-100.




--QB Chad Pennington expects to have seven pins removed from his hand in another week or two, which should get him closer to starting his rehab. He is still shooting for a return by the Nov. 9 game at Oakland, maybe even a week earlier for the game against the Giants.

--CB Donnie Abraham opted not to have surgery on the fractured bone in his right shoulder but he is still expected to miss at least eight weeks.

--WR Wayne Chrebet did not practice for a second straight day because of a sore knee. He is still listed as probable and will play Sunday.

--LB Jason Glenn has a sore right ankle and was downgraded to questionable. There's a good chance Glenn won't be able to dress for Sunday's game in New England so LB Khary Campbell would take over in the nickel packages.

--LB Khary Campbell could get more playing time in the Jets' nickel package if Jason Glenn's ankle isn't healed in time.

--LB Victor Hobson has yet to work with the first team in practice, a sure sign that the Jets don't plan on immediately replacing struggling veteran Mo Lewis, who turns 34 next month.

--LB Mo Lewis won't see much playing time this week at New England with the Jets playing their nickel and dime packages most of the game.

--LB Marvin Jones will also see a decrease in playing time with the Jets playing so much nickel and dime.

--DT Dewayne Robertson continues to struggle but the Jets will keep starting him and give him on-the-job training. Robertson will have a roller coaster of a season because whenever he does something well, teams will game plan for him and Robertson will have to adjust. Robertson is also competing unfairly with the fact that the Jets traded two first-round picks to move up in the draft to get him and last year's first-round pick - DE Bryan Thomas - hasn't performed yet.

--CB Leonard Myers was signed to the practice squad. With the Jets down a man with the shoulder injury to Donnie Abraham, they needed an extra defensive back. They also signed Myers, a former member of the Patriots, for some help in game planning.



--LB Rosevelt Colvin is out with a hip injury. He has not been in the locker room this week and coach Bill Belichick reported no new information.

--LB Ted Johnson also is out with a broken foot. He hasn't been in the locker room this week either.

--G Mike Compton is questionable with a foot injury, but is a longshot to play. It's likely that Damien Woody will play left guard while rookie Dan Koppen plays center.

--C Damien Woody will probably shift outside a spot from center to left guard with Compton's injury leaving his status in question. Woody plays left guard every week when Compton moves inside to center to handle the shotgun snapping chores Woody struggles with.

--C Dan Koppen is expected to start at center for the second consecutive week since Woody could start at left guard. The rookie could see a lot of fellow rookie Dewayne Robertson lined up across from him.

--FB Fred McCray has a slight sprain in his left knee, but hopes to play Sunday against the Jets. He is day-to-day and will likely be a lateweek or game time decision.

--T Tom Ashworth and G Russ Hochstein should be the sixth and seventh offensive linemen dressed for this week's game. If Koppen went down, Woody would move back inside to center and Hochstein would play guard, a spot he also would play if Woody got hurt. If both starters got hurt, Hochstein would play center and Adrian Klemm would move to guard while Ashworth backs up at both tackle spots.

--LT Matt Light will have his hands full this week trying to keep Jets defensive end John Abraham at bay. "He's fast and has a lot of quickness," Light said. "You have to get off the ball or he'll beat you. He doesn't show you the same thing you saw the time before." Abraham had 1.5 sacks in the last meeting between the two teams, a 30-17 Jets win.




Receiver Santana Moss answered his critics with five catches for a career-high 142 yards against the Dolphins last week, including a 61-yard catch and a 32-yard touchdown. If not for a pair of close misses - one that Moss dropped and another he took his eye off of – Moss would have easily had a 200-yard game according to coach Herman Edwards.


The Jets threw to Moss nine times against the Dolphins and it appears the third-year receiver is ready to become a steady part of the Jets offense and fill the team's need for the "big-play" receiver.


"He had a pretty good day and he's going to have to continue to do that," Edwards said. "We talked about that last week, getting him the ball, getting him more involved, and obviously we got him involved and he did some things for us that were very, very good."


Moss' rookie season was a wash after tearing ligaments in his left knee at the start of training camp. He played in just five games and caught two passes while battling calf and quad injuries associated with coming back too early from knee surgery.


Last season, Moss played as the third receiver behind Laveranues Coles and Wayne Chrebet and caught 30 passes for 433 yards and four touchdowns. Technically he's still No. 3, but as the Jets employ the spread offense more, Moss will get to continue his big play abilities. While known for his speed, Moss is thought of as a talented route runner as well.


Moss showed that on his touchdown catch in the fourth quarter. On a play where the slot receiver is usually the primary, quarterback Vinny Testaverde opted to make Moss the first choice. Moss looked back as he ran, inducing the defensive back to do the same. When that happened, Moss took off and the ball was in his hands.


"I went through the rough times in the first years, that's paved the way for me to be who I am today," Moss said. "I've been about practicing hard so when it comes on Sunday I can just be myself and have fun. You probably didn't see that the first couple of years. I'm just glad to have that behind me and I just want to play football."


The Jets need more from Moss on the punt return team as well. Moss had three returns Sunday for just 12 yards and in four returns this season, Moss is averaging 9.5 yards - eighth in the AFC and somewhat below what the Jets were expecting when they used their first-round pick on him in 2001.


A big part of that is that opponents have been able to drive into Jets territory or close to midfield before punting, sending Moss back into end zone or close enough that he can't take any chances. He already has two fair catches.


It's coming," said Moss, who returned two punts for touchdowns last year and averaged 16.5 yards. "Once we get them backed up where they can punt to us, then you'll see our punt return team really take off and make big strides."



Weaknesses will always eventually be exposed in the NFL and the Patriots found that out first hand last year when their run defense crumbled like the Berlin Wall as teams hammered away at it until a missed playoff season was all that remained.


The Patriots coaching staff has certainly done a credible job of covering the team's holes over the last two seasons to the tune of a Super Bowl title and 9-7 season, but if the Patriots offense doesn't begin to show any semblance of a running game this week against the Jets, life could become difficult for quarterback Tom Brady, who will face increasing pressure to play mistake-free football while winging it around the yard 600-plus times this season.


"I have a lot of confidence in Tom (Brady) being able to handle virtually any situation that we're in offensively - ahead, behind, timeouts, no timeouts, weather conditions, he's proven he can handle those situations well and make good decisions and I don't mind having the ball in his hands," Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said.


That's obvious. Through two games last season, Brady threw the ball 78 times on the way to a season in which he attempted 601 passes.


Through two games in 2003, Brady has thrown 72 passes, including 44 in a 31-10 win last week over Philly in which he was still operating out of a five-wide, empty backfield formation with a big lead late in the game. While the Patriots would certainly rather balance the offense with a strong rushing attack, don't look for them to even attempt to do that anytime soon.


"It's good to be balanced," Bill Belichick said, "but if something's not working, there's no use banging your head against the wall trying to force something in there when something else is going better. Sometimes it's dictated by what the defense is doing and sometimes by the efficiency of your own team. We've been down that road where we've tried to make something go and it didn't go well, and to just keep doing it just to say we're balanced even though we're not winning, that doesn't get it for us.

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