Commentary

Bruschi on Tap: Second time a charm

Updated: November 23, 2009, 2:47 PM ET
By Tedy Bruschi | ESPNBoston.com

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Observations from the New England Patriots' 31-14 win over the New York Jets:

1. Second time is the charm: This was an example of how good the Patriots are the second time you play them -- which is a credit to the coaches and their adjustments, and to the players and how good they are at accepting those adjustments and executing them on the field. In the first game between the Patriots and Jets on Sept. 20, a big part of the reason the Jets won was because of the pressure getting to Tom Brady and moving him out of the pocket. One of the adjustments this time around was the Patriots' counteracting the pressure with Kevin Faulk providing blitz relief. If there was a blitzer off the edge, instead of blocking, Faulk often went to the flat and Brady quickly hit him with the pass. Faulk in space versus Jets defenders is a good matchup. Faulk had four receptions for 53 yards. Another part was multiple-receiver sets and empty formations. The Patriots started the game in empty formations and spread out the Jets' defense. What that did was not allow the Jets to have blitzers overloading the line of scrimmage as much, because they had to cover down on multiple receivers. With that, it starts to cause mismatches, such as Wes Welker being covered in zone by linebacker David Harris. The Patriots know how to recognize matchups and attack them. Welker had a career day with 15 receptions.

2. Revisiting the Revis vs. Moss matchup: This lived up to what it was billed to be as Darrelle Revis shadowed Randy Moss most of the day. The first attempt to Moss was batted down by Revis, who had three pass breakups in the game. The Patriots tried to run a flea-flicker and Revis stayed with Moss on the deep route. Overall, Revis did a good job jamming at the line of scrimmage. Moss had five receptions and got the better of Revis on a look pass for the touchdown -- Brady and Moss made it look so simple, they give each other a look and it's a 4-yard touchdown. This rivalry will continue to be the game within the game, which you saw when the Patriots tried to get Moss the ball with 25 seconds left in a 17-point game. That tells you that the rivalry means a lot to the players. They want to get the upper hand. You have to give Revis props. In two games against Moss he was able to hold his own.

3. Secondary rises to the challenge: The defensive secondary has been growing over the course of the season. Jonathan Wilhite is still getting better. It seems like teams are attacking him a bit. He is right there in coverage, always in good position, but he might need a little work on his technique -- in terms of turning for the ball or his hand placement. But he is in good position and that is very important at this stage of his career. The next step will be making those plays. Wilhite has the skills to be a starting corner in this league. As for Leigh Bodden, we've seen his development within the defense. No matter how you get them, to have three interceptions is huge for any DB in the league. When you add in the safeties, the secondary looks like it has the potential to be a very good unit.

4. Focusing on two linemen excelling under the radar: It is unheard of how well Vince Wilfork is playing, whether it's at nose tackle or defensive end. Those two positions are worlds apart within the 3-4 system. You're on the center one play, then Myron Pryor comes in and Wilfork moves to end over offensive tackle Damien Woody. That is very difficult to do and it shows how much skill Wilfork has and how valuable he is to the defense. On the other side, Logan Mankins has been the constant amidst all the shuffling. He's the best player on the line and the tone setter, the one who pushes the pile. He is the one who pushes back when Bart Scott pushes first. He's physical and nasty. The entire offense feeds off his attitude. Both Wilfork and Mankins are free agents after the season, and for the Patriots to be successful, they have to address these two concerns sooner or later. Without these two along the offensive and defensive lines they wouldn't be the team they are now.

5. Punt team must respond: The punt team should be prepared for pressure for the next month. They had the blocked punt recovered for a touchdown in the second quarter and then a near block in the third when Mike DeVito got through. The problems started overseas in England and now the Jets have once again showed the league that the Patriots' punt protection can be an issue. When you show a problem like this in the NFL, like a certain run or coverage, you can expect to see it the next four weeks. It's a problem that has to be solved.

ESPNBoston.com's Mike Reiss contributed to this report.

Tedy Bruschi

Columnist, ESPN.com
Tedy Bruschi spent his entire 13-year career with the New England Patriots after being drafted in the third round out of Arizona. He played in five Super Bowls, winning three. He retired prior to the 2009 season.

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