One of the biggest reasons why the Jets have won three straight games after losing three straight earlier this year has been getting back to the offense of the past two years.
Rex Ryan's beloved Ground and Pound has been in full effect in each victory, giving the Jets the ability to control the ball for long stretches on offense and making defenses loosen up coverage down the field as a result. It is clear that the Jets have been more comfortable on offense and that increased comfort level is translating into better results.
The obvious reaction to that development is that there's no reason to think about changing things up on offense against the Patriots this weekend. You don't go around breaking things that are in fine working order, after all, so why would you mess with the offense before the biggest game of the season?
In this case, you do it because simply sticking with what you've been doing the last three weeks plays right into Bill Belichick's hands. The Patriots coach is dealing with a reeling defense that has been shredded for two straight weeks and giving him a chance to defend someone straight up is about the only lifeline he has available right now.
The Jets have to make the Patriots defend every part of the field and that means they have to let Mark Sanchez be a major part of the game plan. It says a lot about how much progress Sanchez has or hasn't made this season that the initial reaction to such a game plan is still one filled with fear about what might go wrong, but the Jets have to ignore that fear and make it happen.
New England's secondary is pathetic this season and their pass rush is inconsequential if you're able to handle Andre Carter, so there's never going to be a better week to let Sanchez take a leading role in the offense. The running game should still be a big part of the mix, but the Jets aren't going to win this game if they don't attack the weakest parts of the Patriots team on Sunday night.
It's not all that different from the plan the Jets used to beat the Patriots in the playoffs last year. Then, as now, the defense is going to be crucial to whatever chance the Jets have to win the game, but the offense is going to have to make plays because there's very little chance that this is going to be a 13-10 game that the Jets can win without doing something offensively.
The Jets aren't going to get what they want out of this season if they play like they are afraid of Sanchez. This weekend, on the biggest stage so far, they can prove that fear doesn't exist.