Each week, we watch as much Game Rewind as possible. And it's still not enough. On Fridays, we'll share a few things we learned and apply to the upcoming weekend's biggest matchups.
Rex Ryan will have to change his anti-Brady defense
Jets coach Rex Ryan always has a few defensive wrinkles for the Patriots, but the basics have been the same in recent years. New York floods the field with defensive backs and tries to press New England's wideouts at the line of scrimmage. That strategy will be tough to pull off Sunday.
New England gladly runs the ball out of its base multiple-tight end set whenever a defense gets into its nickel and dime packages. We don't think people appreciate just how good Stevan Ridley has been this year. He's easily the best Patriots running back since Corey Dillon. Unlike BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Ridley makes people miss. He is a true primary back when asked to handle those duties.
Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson has been one of the best run stoppers in the NFL this year. It will be up to him to hold the fort. We'd also watch Antonio Cromartie closely. He probably will cover Brandon Lloyd. After a great game against the Houston Texans, Cromartie really struggled against the Indianapolis Colts. That's typical of his hot-and-cold play.
Mark Sanchez on the upswing
It's just two games, but Sanchez has mostly made good decisions and accurate throws over the last two weeks. It hasn't quite shown up in the box score yet. The Jets will have to put more on Sanchez's plate this week because asking Shonn Greene to run through the Patriots is asking for disaster. The holes in the Patriots' defense remain in their young secondary. "Ground and pound" would play right into Bill Belichick's hands.
Eli's insane protection
David Diehl's injury might have done the Giants a favor. Will Beatty stepped in at left tackle, Sean Locklear took over on the right side, and suddenly the Giants' offensive line looks like one of the best groups in the league. It was outrageous to see how well Eli Manning was protected last week. The San Francisco 49ers hit him once all game. Manning hasn't been sacked in three weeks. He's only been hit twice in three weeks. Teams aren't getting near him.
Combined with a steadily improving running game, the Giants' offensive line is starting to look like the group it used to in 2007 and 2008. That makes them a very dangerous offense, especially against Washington.
The Redskins just don't get the same consistent pressure without Brian Orakpo. Ryan Kerrigan is a good player, but he does not seem like a player who can carry a pass rush yet. He struggled to get any pressure last week against the Minnesota Vikings.
Robert Griffin III's decision making
I watch Griffin every week for our rookie quarterback review. The things that stick out from him more than the rest of the rookies are his decision making. (Oh yeah, and the speed, too.) RG3 takes what the defense gives him. He can go through his progressions, but he rarely forces passes. In a weird way, Griffin has been a very conservative quarterback. He doesn't go for too much down the field, but he's accurate when he tries.
The Washington Post had some great stats to back up the notion. Griffin has completed 17 of 24 passes for three touchdowns when defenses blitz him. In short: He's better when the pressure is on. He quickly knows exactly where to go with the ball.Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.