PREVIEW: Jaguars (1-0) at Jets (1-0)
Florham Park, N.J.- In this week’s matchup Jason Hill and the Jacksonville Jaguars make the trip to MetLife Stadium to face the “Over-hyped,” New York Jets. Who is Jason Hill you ask (assuming you haven’t seen the #WhoIsJasonHill twitter hashtag)? He’s the career backup who is now the number two wide receiver on a team whose best receivers are actually the tight-end and running back, yet he’s the one calling out Darrelle Revis and the Jets defense. Don’t feel bad if you haven’t heard of him, because neither have most people outside of Jacksonville, including Revis.
As for Revis being overhyped, Reggie Wayne, Calvin Johnson, Mike Wallace, Andre Johnson, Dez Bryant and every other receiver in the league disrespectfully disagrees with you Jonah Hill, oops I meant Jason Hill, my “Superbad.” But enough about Hill, who amazingly enough might not even play on Sunday since he is listed as doubtful, we should probably turn the focus to things that will actually have an impact on Sunday’s game.
WHEN AND WHERE: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford N.J. Sunday at 1 p.m. EST (TV- CBS/Radio -ESPN 1050)
HOW THEY GOT HERE: The Jaguars held off a late push by the Tennessee Titans to win 16-4 in their first game of the year, while the Jets managed to complete a huge comeback to defeat the Cowboys 27-24.
INJURY REPORT (9/16)
Jets - OUT: Logan Payne (wrist), Rob Turner (ankle)/ QUESTIONABLE: David Harris (toe), Santonio Holmes (knee/quad), Eric Smith (ankle)/ PROBABLE: Mark Brunell (calf), Plaxico Burress (ankle), Marquice Cole (ankle), John Conner (ankle), Jeff Cumberland (hamstring), Marcus Dixon (knee), Wayne Hunter (knee), Derrick Mason (knee), Joe McKnight (finger), Sione Pouha (knee/ankle).
Jaguars – OUT: Derek Cox (chest), Aaron Kampman (knee)/ DOUBTFUL: Jason Hill (hip), Marcedes Lewis (calf)/ PROBABLE: Tyson Alualu (knee).
Contain MJD – With the Jaguars starting journeyman career backup QB Luke McCown and having Mike Thomas as his number one receiver on top of the fact that tight-end Marcedes Lewis is listed at doubtful, the Jaguars only have one real viable weapon, running back Maurice Jones-Drew. While he may be the only real offensive weapon for the Jaguars he is an awfully dangerous one, so they Jets must turn the brunt of their attention on the short, but ridiculously fast and powerful Jones-Drew.
As mentioned the other day the Jaguars offense goes as Jones-Drew goes, but the Jets are known for their stout run defense. Meaning that the easiest way for Jones-Drew to beat them is on screen passes in the flat, which is an area that the Jets tend to have trouble defending. Still usually this is a problem because the Jets have to focus so much attention on the receivers lined up on the outside and the heavy blitzing to pressure the quarterback often leaves them exposed in the flat. Against the Jaguars the Jets don’t need to worry about those other players as much as normal. So, Jones-Drew must be the focal point for the Jets defense. If the Jets can keep Jones-Drew bottled up in both the running and passing game, the Jaguars should find it awfully hard to gain yards on Sunday. However, if the Jets can’t accomplish this for whatever reason, they will be in danger of losing a game they have no business losing.
Marcedes Lewis – The first key here is whether or not Lewis can even play. He strained his right calf in the game against the Titans and is listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game. Obviously if he can’t play, well then everything else that’s about to be written about him will be meaningless. But just because he is doubtful doesn’t mean he should be overlooked in the preview and the Jets will be sure to prepare as if he is playing. As with the screen passes to backs, the Jets have trouble defending quality tight-ends and Lewis is exactly that.
So if he plays the Jets will have to be ready for him, but as good as Lewis is he doesn’t present the same problems as other tight-ends such as Jason Witten, though to no fault of his own. Half of what makes Witten so tough to deal with is he has Dez Bryant and Miles Austin on the outside of him and a quarterback who can be deadly accurate, for the first three quarters at least. Jacksonville doesn’t possess the same weapons, which would allow the Jets to defend Lewis in any number of ways. They could have Revis or Cromartie cover him at times or they could simply bracket him with two or three defenders and still have plenty of blitzers to send McCown’s way. If Lewis gets on a roll that will only open things up more for Jones-Drew and that’s the easiest way for the Jets to find themselves stunned and sitting at 1-1.
Avoid slow start - The Jets haven’t scored a offensive touchdown in the first quarter in their last 16 games, yeah that’s one ugly looking stat. And yes the stat is a tad misleading considering the Jets almost always start out on defense, but it’s also not very misleading because quite frankly the Jets offense tends to be terrible at the beginning of games.
Look for the Jets to use more three tight-end sets and take advantage of Jeff Cumberland lined up in the slot some more and also pay attention to how Sanchez spreads the ball around to his targets. Getting Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason more involved earlier in the game will go a long way to fixing the slow starts. The Jets could most likely survive a slow start on offense this week, but sooner or later they will need to be able to jump right into an offensive rhythm and as they say there’s no better time than now, or Sunday 1:00 p.m. EST.
Offensive-line, Ground-and-Pound and protect Sanchez - For the past two years the Jets have had the consensus best offensive-line in football and entering this season most people thought that would continue. But to say the play of the line last week was disappointing would be like Jason Hill saying Revis is simply a good corner, in other words it would be a massive understatement. The line struggled to open up holes for Shonn Greene, which basically caused the Jets to abandon their trademark Ground-and-Pound philosophy. The Jets will be able to win some games taking it to the air, but they must find their groove in the running game because they are going to need it to be dominate come playoff time.
It wasn’t just the running game where the o-line struggled, they also had trouble protecting Sanchez. Some of the sacks were on Sanchez for not getting rid of the ball sooner, but far too often they let someone get by them untouched or someone just got straight steamrolled by DeMarcus Ware (I’m talking about you, Wayne Hunter). When Sanchez had time he was decisive and accurate (granted mostly on the shorter passes but still), but when he was rushed he seemed to be in such a rush to get rid of the ball he wasn’t even concerned with where the pass would end up.
Revis vs. whoever - McCown, Mike Thomas and or Marcedes Lewis can thank Jason Hill for this. Like McCown didn’t have enough to worry about with this Jets defense, now he also has to worry about an angry Revis out to shut someone up. Revis doesn’t need extra motivation, he is always at the top of his game, but throughout his career we have seen what happens to people who call him out before a game. Spoiler alert, things don’t end well for the team facing the Jets that week.
Sanchez – Sanchez and X-factor? Surely he will be more vital than what someone would normally consider an X-factor right? Well yeah normally, hear me out though. Basically it comes down to this, the Jets should win this game and they should win it rather easily. Despite the slow starts and the question marks that will surround them throughout the season, the Jets are a vastly superior team than the Jaguars in every facet of the game. Which brings us back to the X-factor, Sanchez, he’s listed as the X-factor here for one reason, he just can’t screw this game up. The only way I can see the Jets losing this game is if Sanchez gets his Tony Romo on and hands the Jaguars the game on a silver platter. It’s not that I think it will happen, or even that it might happen, I’m just saying I think the only way the Jets lose this game is if it does happen.
PREDICTION: 27-13 Jets
I think the Jets get out to a fast start, well by their standards at least, and are able to at least score a FG in the first-quarter. By then the offense should slowly but surely begin to find a rhythm and extend their lead. After the defense frustrates the hell out of the Jaguars, look for the Jets to open up the game in the second-half by taking advantage of great field-position and maybe a turnover or two. It won’t always be pretty, but this week it should be pretty easy.