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Patriots likely to attack Jets' Wilson, Cromartie

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Recent posts by Eric Edholm

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Posted Sept. 14, 2010 @ 12:09 p.m. ET
By Eric Edholm

Nobody breaks down a film like Bill Belichick. And what he certainly noticed this morning, when he saw the Jets coaching tape from Monday night, was that the Ravens were able to pick on CBs Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson.

This makes perfect sense. After all, even with a holdout that lasted more than a month, why would you go after Darrelle Revis?

The Ravens only tested him a few times, matched up mostly with Derrick Mason, and the results were predictable: Mason had only two catches.

But they found something with Cromartie and especially Wilson. Cromartie was not all bad; he had a terrific interception he deftly ran back 66 yards and was competitive, even if he made some miscues in coverage and allowed some receptions in his area.

But Wilson struggled badly in his first game. He shouldn't be completely overmatched this season, because he has very good physical traits and has a competitive edge to him. In fact, we might even be able to chalk up last night's game as a case of rookie jitters. But he allowed a ton of catches in his area and appeared surprised at times by the speed of Anquan Boldin, who slipped past him more than once.

The Patriots play games trying to exploit your biggest weakness. They had a few nice runs against the Bengals, but don't expect the run game to be the bread and butter when they head to the Meadowlands. Instead, expect them to continue testing the other corners besides Revis until they prove they can stand up to the challenge.

If this were the 2007 or '08 Patriots, we might see five-wide to open the game. But this team is built slightly differently. Sure, Wes Welker and Randy Moss are still the big dogs, but the tight ends are more heavily involved. Rob Gronkowski already has reached urban-legend status in New England, and Alge Crumpler is proving to be a nice pickup, perhaps more versatile than many of us realized.

But for me, the guy you have to watch is Aaron Hernandez. The rookie tight end had a spectacular catch-and-run after getting wide open, and he could be the secret weapon against the Jets. If you commit a safety to him, it opens up the deep stuff for Moss. Put a linebacker on Hernandez and he'll win many of those battles and take a rusher away. Or, should the Jets decide to match him up with Wilson, there could be some interesting results with the two rookies squaring off.

The Jets have a short week to figure out their coverage. And it's certainly not the only concern they have after last night's loss in a game where the offense floundered.

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