Calvin Pace Has a Theory on the Saints Game

On paper, the matchups don't look good.

How do you guard a team that has a 6'7" freak athlete at tight end in Jimmy Graham, a 6'4" perennial 1,000-yard wide receiver in Marques Colston, and a 5'6" quick-as-they-come running back in Darren Sproles? Oh, right, and some guy named Drew Brees lined up under center.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

"They have a number of different guys who do things well for them," LB Calvin Pace said today, standing in front of his Atlantic Health Jets Training Center locker following the team's practice. "From Robert Meachem to Lance Moore, the names go on and on, and they've got a good stable of running backs too, so it's tough.

"And I think they do a good job of stretching the field," he said. "You look at it, it seems like everybody's running deep. If somebody's not open deep, you check it down to Sproles. It's a challenge. Other than the Falcons, I don't think we're probably going to see better skill guys on offense."

Fortunately for the Jets, though, controlling the trenches usually negates and sometimes trumps athletic players on the periphery, and our defensive line is "really a strength of our team right now," head coach Rex Ryan said today.

If the Saints air it out deep, Brees will be relying on his O-line to stop the likes of Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, Damon "Snacks" Harrison and others for quite some time as he waits for his receivers to run downfield.

Also, as Pace said, the Jets have already faced a daunting task, having gone up against skill position players like QB Matt Ryan, WRs Julio Jones and Roddy White and TE Tony Gonzalez in Atlanta. Perhaps mismatched on paper, the Jets pressured Ryan and forced a few bad throws that ultimately won the game, on the road, no less.

So, set to take on a team loaded at the offensive skill positions, can we use what we learned in facing the Falcons to take down their NFC South foes as well?

"A little different offense, but I think so," Pace said. "Just in terms of having to be able to defend so many different weapons, I think it was a good prep for us and it was a situation where if we could handle Atlanta, we should in theory be able to handle New Orleans."

Of course, to prove that theory, we'll have to play a whole lot better than we did last weekend in Cincinnati.

"We have to improve in a hurry in a lot of areas," Rex said during his Monday afternoon post-practice news conference, "and the challenge, if we don't play better pass defense than we did this past week, is he will throw for 700 yards."

Improving in a hurry would be ideal, but as a veteran like Pace knows, there's still a lot of football left to be played.

"I don't want to date myself," said the 12th-year LB, "but the same thing happened in 2010 against the Patriots. It was supposed to be a big matchup and we went out there and got blown out on Monday night. It happens. You don't want to come in and watch film, and we didn't watch the film, we moved on, and we went to the playoffs that year."

If history repeats itself, the Jets could take care of the Saints, skill-position players and all, just like they did the Falcons in Week 5. And maybe, just maybe, that will be the first step in the second half of this season to repeat those 2010 fortunes. "This is the New Orleans Saints, so this is about as good as it gets in the NFL," Rex said of the 6-1 club. "So if we find a way to get a win here, it would be huge. This would be one of these type of teams, one of these springboard-type things, I would believe."

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