Friday, September 18, 2009

Will Rhodes be the real embarrassment?

You probably heard that New York Jets safety Kerry Rhodes launched another trash talk bomb at the Patriots. He talked about wanting not just to win but to embarrass the Patriots, knock Tom Brady around, and send a message (article here).

I hate to break it to Mr. Rhodes, but the only embarrassment possible on Sunday is if the Jets lose to the Patriots. There are many factors working against the Patriots in this game, as I detailed in my 2009 Patriots Season Preview (link). Here are the reasons the Jets should prevail on Sunday:

1. The Jets had a full week of preparation and are at home. The Patriots had a short week of preparation because they played on Monday night, and they are on the road, shortening their week even more with a travel day.

2. The Patriots don't have much historical tape on the Jets rookie quarterback. Belichick and his staff do a great job defending quarterbacks when they have enough game film to break down their tendencies and comfort zones. But rookie Mark Sanchez played his first game last week, so there is precious little tape to study and digest.

I liken it to what happened against Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2004. Ben had started only four games when the teams played on Halloween, and the rookie QB torched them in a 34-20 drubbing. However, in the playoffs, the Patriots had 14 games of film to study, and they confused Roethlisberger and won going away, 41-27.

So if you extend that idea, Sanchez should do well against the Patriots Sunday, but might struggle in their November game when the Patriots will have nine weeks of film to study.

3. The Jets have no significant injuries, the Patriots do. Starting ILB (and defensive signal caller) Jerod Mayo is out for 6-8 weeks, and Adalius Thomas did not participate fully in practices this week, further weakening an already thin linebacking corps. Also, Wes Welker only played about 2/3 of the offensive snaps last week due to a lingering injury and might do the same this week.

On the other hand, the Jets are getting back former Pro Bowl defensive end Shaun Ellis from a suspension, and they have no significant injuries on their official Injury Report.

4. The Patriots are playing younger guys this year with an eye toward being better at the end of the season. The past few years the Pats flew out of the gate, winning games by playing veterans at the expense of developing young players. Now they are back to the way things were in 2001, 2003, and 2004 (all Super Bowl winning years). But that might cost them some early games, which is why the Jets should be able to take the game Sunday.

All of this should add up to a Jets victory. If it does, I will tip my hat to them and await the next meeting. But if they don't, the embarrassment for the Jets will be multi-fold. Not only will it be yet another disappointment, but given all the factors in their favor and the fact that they talked trash all week, it might go beyond simple embarrassment to full-on humiliation.

Eat hearty Sunday morning, Mr. Rhodes. Because there's not much nutritional value to the crow you might be eating after the game.

- Scott

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