It's once again time for our weekly Q&A session with an opposing blogger. This week, we're hitting up Rex Sanchez, Bloguin's NY Jets blog, yet again. The Jets and Patriots are poised for the rubber match in their epic three-game battle and the stakes have never been higher. I asked the site's lead writer, Daniel Krieg, a series of questions about the Jets, and he, in turn, asked me a few about the Pats. His responses are below, followed by a link to Foxboro Blog's Q&A session on Rex Sanchez.
1. When you heard Rex's comments about Tom Brady over the past couple of days, what did you make of them? Has Rex's presence in the Jets locker room as head coach in the last couple of seasons change this to one of the best > rivalries in the NFL?
I didn't take much from Rex's comments. That's what he does. Had he been tight-lipped and giving monotone answers like Belichick then I would have been concerned. Plus, I think he was speaking the truth. No quarterback prepares like Peyton Manning does. That's not a knock on Brady as much as it is a tip of the hat to Manning.
Rex has elevated it even more but the rivalry really intensified when Mangini snitched on Belichick with Spygate. In my mind that is what sparked the growth of the rivalry. Rex has definitely kept the momentum going forward but Mangini is the founder of it, in my mind.
2. If you are Brian Schottenheimer, do you take the training wheels off of > Sanchez to get a win or is it ground and pound all the way?
Ground and pound all the way. I think Sanchez is capable of winning the game himself as he has shown throughout the season, but this week has to be about Shonn Greene. I'm still not a huge LT supporter but he came up big last week. Greene can take over a game though. If I had to list five players that can win the game for the Jets on Sunday, Greene would top the list.
3. How do you expect the Jets to alter their gameplan from the one that was > used in the 45-3 debacle in early December?
Defensively I think the gameplan will be very similar to the Colts game: Minimal blitzing, lots of defenders in coverage. I think Rex has finally conceded the Jets have no pass rush. Even if they blitz 11 guys they're not getting to the quarterback, especially with the likes of Manning and Brady who can read a defense how we read the morning newspaper.
Offensively, Rex has to not waste early challenges and not force Folk to kick 50+ yard field goals in adverse conditions. And then just give the ball to Greene and mix in a short passing game to Keller, slants to Santonio and a couple deep balls to Braylon.
4. In the running game, who should get more carries to give New England > fits - Shonn Greene or LT?
Greene. No questions asked. He is the "X-factor" for the Jets. Last season he single-handedly won the Bengals and Chargers playoff games and he not injured himself in the AFC Championship Game I think the Jets would have won that match, too. In order for Greene to be his most effective Mangold has to win the battle in the trenches with Wilfork. Here's to the SI Cover Curse building on its legacy!
5. Where would you put Darrelle Revis on defense and who would you have him > cover that would bring New York the best success in the football game?
It feels like Revis is wasted versus a team like New England. There are simply so many players. I would put him on Welker, though. Cromartie simply cannot keep up with Welker's sneaky speedy routes and no other Jets corner could handle him either. Talk to me after Branch burns Cro for an 80-yard touchdown on the game's first play. I might change my mind.
6. Here's something that goes under the radar. Does the injury to Brad Smith, if he is not 100%, hinder New York with his special teams and offensive abilities?
It's hard to say. I've never been a big fan of the Wildcat with the Jets because I think they are way too predictable and it takes Sanchez off his game. The results are there though and it is usually good for 1-2 big gains per game. Overall though I do not think Smith's absence on offense would be a huge loss. On special teams I think Cromartie is just as dangerous to break a big return, but I have very little faith in his football IQ and ball possession skills. I'm not 100% sure---and knock on wood, but I do not believe Smith has ever fumbled a kickoff return. I think a gimpy Smith would be more missed on ST than on O.
7. Break out the crystal ball and give me a prediction: Who goes to the AFC Championship Game and Why?
Here's the thing. I know the Patriots are the better team. They're much better actually. If Sunday was a regular season game I'd pick them in a heartbeat. But I just feel this Jets team has that special IT quality. I don't need to explain that to you. Y'all have seen it with past Pats teams. I just can't see the Jets season coming to an end Sunday night. The players they needed last season versus Indy, a Santonio-type player, a Cromartie, even dare I say, LT (a pass-catching RB, I mean), they're all here now. And I think Rex overcoming his stubbornness with blitzing and rushing the passer will help the defense significantly. They can stop the run, that's never been the issue. But if they can defend the pass the way they did versus Indy last week I think they can significantly slow down the Pats offense. The players are in place, the formula is in place, now they just have to win the game. If the Jets are winning a Super Bowl this season, it's only fitting they have to go through New England. It should be an absolute classic; sports at its finest.
Jets 27, Pats 23