Florham Park, N.J.– It took the Jets until their 18th game to finally become the team they and their fans thought they were. Excluding the two Buffalo games, for good reason it was Buffalo, this was by far their most complete game of the season and considering it was the playoffs against the hated Patriots, it came at the perfect moment in time.
Usually when a team puts on such a solid all around performance the task of selecting a player of the game becomes quite difficult. When so many players played well and made huge plays it’s often hard to come to a concrete decision on what player turned in the most valuable performance, but this past Sunday the answer to that question couldn’t have been more clear.
Last week when Rex Ryan was busy talking to the media about Tom Brady’s, “antics,” on the field, the majority of his players were hesitant to back up their coach, for once, but there was one player who had no problem confirming his coaches accusations.
“They were winning. He was feeling good, I guess, about himself. They controlled us a lot in that game.” Shaun Ellis said last week.
“He doesn’t like the Jets. Any time he gets a chance to rub it in our face, he’s going to do it.” Ellis said, before explaining his intentions to turn the table on Brady, “For us, it’s just a matter of we want to see him on the ground as much as possible.”
The Jets battered and confused Brady the entire game, Brady never looked comfortable and the biggest reason for that was the disruptive play of Ellis.
Everyone knows the story of Bill Belichick’s reign as the Head Coach of the Jets lasting all of one day, but what is often forgotten is that when the Patriots hired Belichick the Jets were awarded the Patriots first-round, 2000, draft pick as compensation. That draft pick turned out to be one Shaun Ellis.
11 years later, that trade finally paid off for the Jets, as Ellis recorded two sacks against Brady, but applied consistent pressure on what seemed like every snap. The Jets confused Brady with disguising who was blitzing on each play, but play after play the Patriots struggled to contain Ellis from attacking Brady.
“We were totally disrespected last time,” Ellis said after the Jets victory, “We wanted to get them back.”
And get them back they did, as Ellis was as big a reason as any that the Patriots have already packed their trash bags after cleaning out their lockers.
Ellis is in the middle of the most successful run he has ever achieved as a member of the Jets, back-to-back AFC Championship appearances after years of mediocrity, but there is no way he or anyone else on the Jets is content with just reaching this point and in order for the Jets to earn an all expense paid trip to Dallas the Jets are going to need yet another monster game from Ellis.
The weakness of this Steelers team is without question the offensive-line, that wasn’t very good to begin with and that was before they were decimated by injures. The Jets will need to take advantage of the holes on the o-line and must be able to not only pressure Ben Roethlisberger, but hit him and bring him down.
There is little doubt that the Jets will be able to break through the line and cause Roethlisberger to scamper, but if they can’t sack him they could be in for a long day as Roethlisberger excels once the play breaks down and he has to improvise.
“You can’t prepare for what he naturally does. How do you prepare to tackle a guy who’s as big as a polar bear? How do you prepare for a guy that can flick the ball 50 yards at the drop of a dime? How do you prepare for a guy that can run like he does?” Trevor Pryce said, “How do you prepare for that? How do you prepare for someone who wants to win like he wants to win and that kind of franchise? You don’t prepare for it; you do your best with the X’s and O’s, but he’s really unique.”
The easiest way to combat Roethlisberger’s instincts is to make sure he doesn’t get a chance to take advantage of them. That means the Jets must get to him and get to him quick.
The secondary must do as good a job in coverage as they did last week, when they dropped seven or eight guys into coverage there was nowhere for Brady to look whenever he could break away from the pressure and that will be equally important this week. It will also be more difficult because the Jets will have to respect the Steelers running game.
Still with the far below average line of the Steelers, Ellis and company will have to have a repeat performance of last week if they expect to knock off their third straight Super Bowl winning quarterback. The good news for Jets fans is Ellis and his teammates seem all too prepared to do just that.
After 11 years of sharpening his claws in the NFL the, ‘Big Katt,’ has officially been unleashed as it appears he has never been more dialed in and is hungry to make his Super Bowl dreams come true.
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