As soon as the NFL released its regular season schedule, Rex Ryan circled this game and began licking his chops.
If history has told us anything, the Bills’ head coach might feast Sunday afternoon, much like he has in the past. And that’s scary for Patriots’ fans. As proof, we only have to look at how his former Jets teams competed against New England during his first two years as the team’s head coach.
(Side note: His last few years in New York were an anomaly, and I blame Ryan’s lack of success mostly on the Jets’ former, incompetent general manager Mike Tannenbaum.)
But anyways, I digress. In 2009, the bombastic Ryan took over as Gang Green’s captain. His arrival instantly swept away decades of dust that had piled up on a franchise that won its last Super Bowl in 1968. He brought swagger to a team that fans hadn’t witnessed since “Broadway Joe” roamed its sideline.
From 2009 to 2010, New York was stacked with defensive talent, similar to how the Bills are currently constructed, and Ryan knew how to deploy them effectively against Tom Brady. During the teams’ first two September matchups, Brady completed just over 50 percent of his passes for roughly 460 yards, 2 tds and 3 ints. The Patriots lost both games.
However, later in the year, during both seasons, the Jets faltered and Brady thrived. The Patriots quarterback hit 70 percent of his passes for 630 yards, 5 tds and 0 ints. The Patriots and Brady had adjusted. They had figured Ryan out.
Again, if history has shown us anything, it’s to expect more of the same this season.
As further evidence the Patriots struggle early, but adjust to Ryan as the season wears on, we can look at New York’s success rate at pressuring Brady. The amount of pressure Brady received during the teams’ first two matchups of 2009 and 2010 is consistent with the amount he received during their last two between the same time period. The similarity helps prove the Patriots and Brady rebound by modifying their strategy.
Here is the breakdown:
Finally, what if we examined how the Jets played against the Patriots from 2011 to 2012? Sure, Ryan coached inferior squads and Brady put up exceptional numbers, but the proof is there as well. Here are Brady’s stats:
While Pats on Tap, of course, always predicts a Patriots’ win and 19-0 season, we won’t be surprised if the Bills upset the Patriots. As we noted, history isn’t on the Patriots’ side and this Bills’ team may be the most talented squad Ryan has ever coached. At the very least, it’s dripping with 2010 Jets’ swagger.
To emerge victorious, the Patriots’ offensive line has to hold up against a Bill’s defensive front that includes three players who had double digit sacks last season. Is that possible? Very.
According to Pro Football Focus, New England’s front five is already off to a better start than it was last year despite playing three rookies. During last year’s season opener, New England’s line had a miserable pass blocking efficiency (PBE) of approximately 68. The offensive line allowed 3 sacks, 6 hits, 16 hurries and 25 total pressures against the Dolphins. They ranked 31st in the league.
After last week’s victory over the Steelers, the Patriots’ offensive line only allowed 2 hits, 5 hurries and 7 total pressures. It also didn’t allow a sack. Its PBE after that game stood close to 85, ranking 12th overall.
If the Patriots’ can keep Brady protected, expect Ryan to go home with an empty stomach.