|Jets defense gets early test by taking on Tom Brady and Patriots offense|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 06 September 2007 11:44|
Just because the New England Patriots might not have some key players in the season opener Sunday, the Jets linebacker knows that doesn't mean things will be any easier for New York.
``You want to play them when they are at their best,'' Vilma said Thursday. ``You want to play every opponent at their best. The injuries that they have, I don't think they are going to affect them. They are still going to run their offense and do what they do. For us, it doesn't make a difference whether they are injured or not.''
The Patriots will be without two of their best defensive players in defensive end Richard Seymour, on the physically unable to perform list with an undisclosed injury, and safety Rodney Harrison, suspended four games for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. It's also uncertain whether wide receiver Randy Moss will play after being sidelined most of training camp by a hamstring injury.
New York knows Tom Brady will be leading New England's offense, and that's a challenge in itself.
``I have a lot of respect,'' Vilma said of Brady. ``He's always done a great job against us. He's always had good games.''
That's more truth than it is exaggeration. In the 12 games he's started against the Jets, Brady is 10-2 and has thrown 14 touchdowns and just five interceptions. He's 6-0 against New York at the Meadowlands, the site of Sunday's game.
``I can't say enough good things about him and what he does year-in and year-out,'' Jets coach Eric Mangini said. ``Game-in and game-out, pressure situations, his ability to read defenses and understand where the defense is going to be vulnerable and where he's going to be able to make some plays.''
Brady needs three touchdowns to reach 150 for his career, and has posted an impressive 99.6 passer rating on the road. He might be able to improve on those numbers this weekend when he faces a Jets secondary that could include touted rookie cornerback Darrelle Revis in the starting lineup.
``They will be throwing the ball a lot,'' Revis said. ``As a secondary, you just have to play hard, do what you have to do to make plays and just go out there have fun and try to win.''
The game could be short on fun for the Jets if Brady gets full use from his new stable of wide receivers. Besides Moss, the Patriots added Donte' Stallworth, Wes Welker and Kelley Washington to go along with Jabar Gaffney.
``We have seen them all,'' safety Kerry Rhodes said. ``We know what they are all capable of doing and we know that they are great receivers, but we will be ready to play. We have a good game plan.''
New England is so deep at the position this season, it was able to release Reche Caldwell, the Patriots' leading receiver a year ago.
``With the changes they made, they can do anything,'' Rhodes said. ``They can go five-wide, four-wide or with three tight ends. They can do whatever they want. We have to be ready for everything they can do.''
Despite the success Brady has had against them, the Jets know they can beat him. After nearly defeating him in Week 2 at home, New York went up to Foxborough and constantly pressured Brady in a 17-14 win. The lasting image from that game was a muddied Brady sitting on the turf as the Jets celebrated around him following a sack by Shaun Ellis, who forced a fumble to seal the win.
Brady was solid against the Jets in the playoffs two months later, turning a one-possession game into a late rout.
``We prepare for everything and the great thing is playing these guys as many times as we have, we understand their style,'' Brady said. ``It's still very challenging to prepare for because you have to prepare for everything. I hope we are more prepared this time around than we were the last time around in the playoff game.''
The oddsmakers have the Patriots listed as the favorite to win the game and the AFC East, a familiar predicament for the Jets.
``It was the same thing when we went up there,'' Vilma said. ``Everyone said we had no chance to win when we went up there. We're not worried about that.''