So you say the Patriots are averaging 507.5 yards and 33.8 points per game? And Tom Brady is on pace to throw for 6,212 yards, WR Wes Welker is on target for 160 catches, 2,464 yards and 20 TDs and TE Rob Gronkowski for 72 receptions, 1,184 yards and 20 TDs? And they’re also running it well?
“I think we can completely shut them down. That’s what we’re going to go in there to do,” said Jets DE Mike DeVito. “If you’re not going in there thinking that, you’re thinking the wrong thing. We have the defense and we have the players, so we’re going in there trying to shut down this offense.”
DeVito is one of the most humble players you’ll ever meet and he’s not one to talk a lot of trash. His response came after he was asked if the Jets have to go into this one hoping to contain this prolific Pats offense with solid third-down and red-zone defense. His answer was honest, refreshing and exactly what you’d like to hear from a veteran who’s tasted a lot of success against the Patriots.
The Jets have won four of the last six in this rivalry, including a dominant performance in January in the AFC Divisional Round at Gillette Stadium. Brady passed for 299 yards and two TDs that afternoon, but he was sacked five times, hit on numerous other occasions and continually frustrated by the Jets’ coverage schemes as the Pats converted just five of 14 third downs in the Jets’ 28-21 win.
“That was last year and that’s behind us now,” DeVito said. “I think the confidence comes from what we’ve done this season thus far, what we put in during training camp, the work we put in and the guys we have on the field. That’s where our confidence comes from now and we’ll be ready to go.”
“I have a feeling that there were more than a few days in Foxboro spent — whether it was over the lockout or whether it was since the season started — preparing for our defense, knowing that we had success against them in the playoff game,” added defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. “Again it’s a challenge for us. We’ve got to make sure that we kind of forge ahead with some new things, but at the same time not get away from what’s been successful against them in the past.”
The Jets defense ranks No. 8 overall entering Week 5 and they played well in defeat last Sunday night in Baltimore. They held an improving Ravens offense to just 267 yards and 6-of-18 on third down while forcing three takeaways and scoring on a 35-yard David Harris interception return in the second quarter.
It was Harris’ first-quarter INT in January that set the tone against Brady and company. While the Pats will always have a strong pass attack with Brady slinging the rock, they’ve created some balance and currently rank No. 9 in rushing. In a Week 4 win over the Raiders, rookie Stevan Ridley (10-97) and BenJarvus Green-Ellis (16-75) combined for 26 attempts and 172 yards.
“It’s such a great offense. We’re going to have to go out there and be clicking on all cylinders,” DeVito said. “They’ve stepped up their run game. They still have Tom Brady and still have a lot of threats on offense. As a defense, man, we have to come out there and play Jets defense. We can’t have any lapses in this game because they’re too quick to take advantage of it.”
“They have a potential mismatch at virtually every position. Now add to it that they’re running the football,” Pettine said. “That’s a pretty good offensive line. Gronkowski has really stepped up and become one of the better tight ends in the league.”
If the Green & White elect to play small against the Pats by loading the field with DBs, the challenge will be to control the run game in sub packages. Brady won’t have to worry about longtime nemesis Shaun Ellis this time around as the Big Katt, who racked up two sacks of Brady in the winter playoff win, will be taking aim at Mark Sanchez.
“He is one of the big reasons I made the team,” an appreciative DeVito said of Ellis. “I could have come in here and he could have given me a hard time, but he didn’t. He took me under his wing and he helped me progress as a player. Coming in as a rookie, it’s intimidating and he helped me right off at the beginning. He is somebody I have a lot of love and respect for.”
Referring to Ellis as his “big brother,” DeVito will exchange pleasantries with him after this contest. The 6’3”, 305-pounder, an undrafted free agent out of Maine in his fifth season, attended Nauset Regional HS in North Eastham, Mass., and the matchup with the Pats holds a lot of weight in the standings and for his family.
“It’s huge. Everybody’s up there,” he said. “If we lose this game, it’s not just me who has to hear it — my dad has to hear it, my mom has to hear it. So it’s big for us as a family to go up there and win this game.”
Tags: Mike DeVito, New England Patriots, Rob Gronkowski, Shaun Ellis, Tom Brady, Wes Welker
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