Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.com
On Sunday, the Jets will play the Tennessee Titans in one of the league’s surprise 2-1 versus 2-1 matchups of the weekend. While the 2-1 records are the same, both teams are looking to make a big statement this weekend to show to the NFL that they haven’t gotten to 2-1 by accident. With a tougher schedule ahead, getting this win now could sustain the Jets for a while to make a run during the second half of the NFL season.
1. Giveaways and takeaways: So far the Jets are a woeful negative six in give/take and they need to do a better job of protecting the football while taking it out of the other team’s hands. The Titans are one of better teams at protecting the ball; so far in 2013 they’ve not turned the ball over once. For the Jets to have a chance to win this Sunday, they can’t keep on that pace against a clean Titans team.
2. Protect against the run: In Week 1, the Jets held Doug Martin to 65 yards on 24 carries. Before his injury last week, the Jets held CJ Spiller to nine yards on ten carries. This weekend the Jets face a Tennessee quarterback in Jake Locker who has shown some progress, but who is still far from a finished product. The Titans haven’t played a defense that has fared as well as the Jets D has this season, so if the Jets can play the defense we’ve seen from them so far and shut down Chris Johnson, then the burden will be placed on Locker’s shoulders.
3. Keep the big plays alive: Teams have forced Geno Smith to beat them by stopping the run with extra defenders in the box. Last week, Geno was able to take advantage of a weakened Buffalo secondary, but his performance will put other NFL teams on notice that crowding the box all game won’t work. That said, attacking this secondary will be a much tougher challenge this week. According to Pro Football Focus, Alterraun Verner (4th) and Jason McCourty (8th) are among the league’s best right now … can the Jets offense keep the ball away from the opportunistic Verner and McCourty and still move the ball? The Jets might be better off attacking the middle of the defense with their slot receiver and tight ends.
4. The Best Offense is to Defend: According to ESPN NY, the Titans have blitzed on just about half of their passing downs, which is a clear sign that Gregg Williams is the de facto mastermind behind this Titans defense. Williams might still be living in the shadow of BountyGate, but his defense is still aggressive. Jurrell Casey could cause trouble up the middle while Akeem Ayers, Zach Brown and Derrick Morgan attack the Jets offensive line. Look to see the Jets stress the run yet again and see if they don’t mix in some more Wildcat looks to help dispel the attacking nature of this up and coming defensive group.