JETS-JAGUARS: Previewing the clash of the hungry
The Jets will look themselves in the mirror on Sunday, and hope to crack it.
Jacksonville and New York are carbon copies of each other. Both are aggressive football teams that rely on their running game and their defense, and both are coached by men that were members of the 2000 Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens. But the parallels don’t end there.
Both the Jaguars and Jets have been models of inconsistency this season, posting a common 4-4 record, heading into the Week 10 showdown at the Meadowlands.
With each squad starving for a victory, this will no-doubt be a high stakes, blood-bath of a ball game. The winner will be awarded the opportunity to prolong their season, with the loser most likely headed in the other direction. At 4-5, a playoff run would be an uphill climb for either team in the tough AFC, where 10-6 may not even be enough to secure a playoff berth.
KEYS TO VICTORY FOR GANG GREEN
1) Travel by air
The Jaguars defense is among the worst in the NFL at getting to the opposing quarterback,registering only eight sacks all season. As a result of their dismal pass-rush, Jacksonville has struggled mightily to defend against the pass, giving up over 240 passing yards per game. QB Mark Sanchez should look to exploit the Jags’ secondary and should take some shots downfield early on, to not only test the corners but also to open up the running game for Thomas Jones and Shonn Greene.
2) Capitalize off turnovers
Despite forcing fifteen turnovers, the Jets have yet to score a touchdown off one of their takeaways all season. Getting into the end zone and making their opponents pay for their miscues is something Gang Green must improve on in the second half of the season. It starts Sunday. In a close-fought game like Sunday should be, getting a touchdown as opposed to a field goal off a turnover, could prove to be the deciding factor.
3) Contain MJD
RB Maurice Jones-Drew is the main catalyst of the Jaguars offensive attack. While it may seem simple, the Jets tackling needs to be on-point against a ferocious runner like Jones-Drew. MJD excels at breaking tackles and turning them into big plays downfield. In their losses at Miami and New Orleans, the Jets defense was done in by missed tackling, that cannot happen against Jacksonville.
4) Fireman Ed
Once again, Jets head coach Rex Ryan is calling on the Jets faithful to step their game up this week at the Meadowlands and get loud. Since the home opening win against New England, the Giants Stadium crowed has yet to repeat their raucous performance, which resulted in several delay of game and false start penalties against the Patriots in Week 2. The Jets need that twelfth man back in a game that could have serious playoff implications.
5) Get pressure on David Garrard
Jacksonville QB David Garrard has struggled to find consistency all season. As Garrard has gone, so have the Jags. Garrard has especially struggled on the road, throwing two interceptions and zero touchdowns through four road games. Coincidentally, Jacksonville has only won one of those four games. If the Jets can get penetration up front against a relatively-weak Jacksonville offensive line, Garrard will struggle and make bad decisions with the football,as he is known to do.
Coming off the bye week, Gang Greens defense come out with something to prove. The defense takes advantage of inconsistent David Garrard, forcing at least two turnovers. On the other side of the ball, Thomas Jones pounds away for another impressive day on the ground. But this will not be a blowout by any stretch of the imagination. The Jets grind out a close victory, with the strength of their defense being the difference in the end: Jets 17, Jaguars 10
In eight meetings between the two teams, the Jaguars hold a 5-3 advantage, winning the last two. In fact, Gang Green has not defeated Jacksonville since 2003.
Last time they met…
The Jets were shellacked in 41-0 loss at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium in 2006, the franchise’s worst defeat in 20 years. In that game, the Jets were dominated by the stifling Jacksonville defense, which clamped down on Jets QB Chad Pennington. Pennington was sacked three times and was picked off three times, two of those leading to Jacksonville touchdowns. The Jaguars defense also blocked a punt by Jets P Ben Graham, which turned into a score. Jacksonville running backs Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew also had impressive days, combining for three touchdowns and 170 yards.
Jones, Ellis looking at history
Thomas Jones can tie a team-record (Curtis Martin, Freeman McNeil) with a fourth straight 100-yard rushing performance. Meanwhile, Shaun Ellis will play his 148th career game for the Jets this Sunday, an all-time record for Jets defensive linemen. The previous record was set by Marty Lyons with 147 games from 1979 to 1989. Ellis is also one sack away from being the franchise’s all-time leader in the department.
Injury Report: Gholston doubtful
The Jets go into Sunday relatively healthy, despite possibly being without the services of LB Vernon Gholston. Gholston has been held out of practice all week with a hamstring injury.
CB Lito Sheppard will return to action on Sunday, after missing some time after aggravating a quad injury. Sheppard will definitely play, but may not start.
For Jacksonville, TE Ernest Wilford and DT John Henderson have missed practice time this week with ankle injuries. Without Henderson, the Jacksonville defense could struggle to contain the Jets running game.