Florham Park, N.J.- There is a high sense of urgency coming into this week as the Jets, more specifically their cornerbacks, will face perhaps their biggest test of the season Sunday afternoon when they face the Detroit Lions at home.
“In the NFL it’s the equivalent of a ten game losing streak when you lose one game.” Said Head Coach Rex Ryan. “So, we’re on a 20 game losing streak…So, yeah there is a huge sense of urgency.”
The Lions’ star receiver wide receiver Calvin Johnson aka Megatron (Ex-Jet Damien Woody has made numerous claims in the past about being the creator of that nickname) is well regarded as the best wide receiver in the NFL.
And for the second straight week the Jets may be without cornerback Dee Milliner due to a quad injury leaving converted safety Antonio Allen and perennial backup Darrin Walls as the starting corners.
To their credit, at times Walls and Allen have had their bright moments. Other than a questionable pass interference call, Walls played well against the Bears. As for Allen, he has made a somewhat smooth transition to the cornerback position but there is still clear room for improvement.
Take last week against the Bears, Allen got beat badly by his college teammate Alshon Jeffrey for a 42-yard gain and dropped an easy interception that could have resulted in a large return.
Enter Megatron. In back-to-back weeks, the Jets have allowed receivers to have monstrous games. Against the Packers, Jordy Nelson torched the secondary for 209 yards (although most of Nelson’s big gains came when covered by Milliner) receiving and the aforementioned Jeffrey caught eight passes for 105 yards.
Naturally, Johnson is looking forward to facing both Walls and Allen.
“Just from watching the film I’ve watched so far, they play what the coach has them play.” Said Johnson during a conference call with the media on Wednesday, “I don’t have anything negative to say about them but I’m just looking forward to the opportunity to get in some single coverage.”
Johnson also said he expects to see a lot of man-to-man coverage due to their exotic blitzing schemes.
“We expect to get some of that (man-to-man coverage) just only from the blitzes that they bring all the time.”
Johnson already dominated one New York team when faced with single coverage, catching seven balls for 164 yards and two touchdowns against the Giants during the first week of the season. That game must have had an impact on Ryan because he quickly denounced the idea of Johnson being single covered.
“He’s not going to get that (single high man coverage). I’m crazy, but I’m not that crazy.” Ryan said.
Ryan also said that Johnson’s size and skills are intangibles that he has rarely come across as a coach and isn’t comparable to other receivers.
“No (other receivers are comparable)…I’ve gone against him a couple times, Brandon Marshall is about as close as it gets. I think but he’s (Johnson) a little bigger and a little faster.” Said Ryan, “I mean really there is no way, I have no idea (who is comparable to Johnson).”
While Johnson expects to have little trouble with the Jets secondary, Detroit Head Coach Jim Caldwell knows that Ryan always has tricks up his sleeve.
“We go into each game and each game presents you with different challenges and one of the things that we know for certain is it’s never been an easy road with Rex’s scheme, and how he does things.” Said Caldwell during his conference call with the media, “Its difficult to manage, he doesn’t give you the same looks all the time. To be able to determine when you get certain things at which times is going to be difficult. So, we think it’s going to be a real challenge.”
The natural solution then would be to double cover Johnson. But according to Johnson if the Jets go that route, the Lions have plenty of other options.
“If they want to do that then we have a plethora of playmakers that can go out there and get the job done as well. So you kind of got to pick your poison,” said Johnson.
One of those “playmakers” Johnson is referring to is free agent acquisition Golden Tate. Tate has 16 catches on the year and has averaged over 12 yards a reception.
“Golden’s real shifty, he has great strong hands.” Said Johnson, “Like I said if they want to bring two over to one side, bring an extra defender over to one side, leave him one-on-one he can do damage as well.”
The Jets secondary will have to be on their A game in order to slow down the Lion’s and avoid going into a 1-3 hole.
“We don’t want to dig ourselves in any further hole than we’re in.” Said Ryan “So, we got to find a way (to win) albeit against a good a opponent.”