When it comes to the use of tight ends in the passing game, the Patriots are at the front of the curve. The Jets safeties hope to change that. Violently.
“We’re just not going to let guys run down the field,” safety Yeremiah Bell said Tuesday, per Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com. “That’s one thing we’re not going to do. We’re going to get our hands on them early and beat them up a little bit and make them earn that catch.”
Bell also had a more specific warning for the tight ends they’ll face.
“When you come over the middle, and you have me and LaRon sitting there, that’s something to think about,” Bell said. “So, yeah, we’re going to give guys something to think about.”
The goal is to disrupt the rhythm between quarterback and tight end.
“The big thing in this league is timing,” Bell said. “If he has to take two extra steps to get around us, that’s one extra second the quarterback has to [look] off him. [Tom] Brady can’t key on him the whole time. We’re going to get our hands on him and rough him up a little bit. We’re going to come after them.”
That’s fine. But there are now significant limits on the manner in which safeties can come after tight ends and other receivers. Consider this quote from Bucs defensive back Ronde Barber, which appeared in Peter King’s most recent Monday Morning Quarterback column, regarding Tampa’s longstanding Cover 2 defense: “Our theory was all these guys got to the ball and intimidation was a physical act. It was, ‘Get guys to run through zones. We’ll shoot our guns and separate them from the ball.’ The rules will definitely affect it. . . . I know we don’t play cover-two now the way we used to.”
So Bell and Landry need to keep that in mind. Or they’ll be making plenty of donations to the league’s favorite charities.