The Titans will be facing the New York Jets Sunday for the fourth straight year but this Jets team doesn’t bear as much resemblance to the other Jets teams as you might think.
It’s not the same Jets team that ended the Titans’ ten-game winning streak last season when Brett Favre picked apart the defense in a 34-13 drubbing. Favre and his favorite receiver, Laveranues Coles, are both gone and there are other new faces as well.
The Jets have a rookie quarterback and a new head coach, also a rookie, at the helm. You’d think the gameplan is to try to follow the blueprint of the Falcons and Ravens last year, in being conservative on offense, not putting too much on the rookie’s plate and winning with defense.
Here’s a look at the Jets, after the jump.
Defense: Make no mistake about it, this Jets team is all about defense. New head coach Rex Ryan brought his defense (including two players) with him from Baltimore, so what you’ll see Sunday is Jets players in the Ravens defense.
The Titans faced that Ryan defense twice last year and scored 13 and 10 points against it. As noted before, the Titans only scored 13 against the Jets in November, so don’t expect them to burn up the scoreboard Sunday.
The new and improved Jets defense hasn’t allowed a touchdown yet. In Week One, Houston could only manage a defensive score. Last week, the Patriots did just a little better with three field goals.
Two players in particular stand out. Nose tackle Kris Jenkins, a four-time Pro Bowler, has been wreaking havoc. He dominated the line of scrimmage against the Texans and Patriots, disrupting the run and pressuring the quarterback. That shouldn’t surprise anyone who watched him against the Titans last year.
Third-year corner Darrelle Revis, who earned Pro Bowl honors in just his second season, has taken up right where he left off. In consecutive weeks, he’s shut down two of the best WRs in the game, Andre Johnson and Randy Moss. Johnson, who had ten catches for 149 yards and two touchdowns against the Titans, had only four receptions for 35 yards against Revis. Moss, who had twelve catches for 149 yards against the Bills, had just four for 24 yards against Revis.
Give some of the credit to the pass rush, which has featured as many as seven pass rushers. They blitzed Tom Brady without mercy last week, hitting him 23 times according to Ryan. Matt Schaub also experienced that blitz. It’s tough on an offense when five, six or seven men rush out of a three-man front.
Sounds like Kerry Collins might spend a lot of time in the whirlpool next week.
Former Ratbird Pro Bowler Bart Scott is an upgrade at LILB. He’ll be paired with RILB David Harris, who had five tackles and three QB pressures last week. I agree with Matt of DGDB&D
, when he said
the trio of Jenkins, Harris and Scott are the best middle three of a front seven in football.
You don’t notice 3-4 defensive ends much but Shaun Ellis has been one of the better ones. Kerry Rhodes is a pretty decent safety. He’s played both strong and free and is now back to FS again. Former Bill and Ratbird Jim Leonhard takes over as the strong safety. Another newcomer, Lito Sheppard,
mans the corner spot opposite Revis. Sheppard earned two Pro Bowl invites and one All-Pro designation back in the day in Philadelphia. I guess he can still play, because he took the starting job away from last year’s starter, Dwight Lowery.
Offense: The strength of the Jets offense is their line. In 2006, they had two first-round draft picks and used them both on o-linemen, LT D’Brickashaw Ferguson and C Nick Mangold, who was a Pro Bowler last year. Since then, they’ve added All-World LG Alan Faneca and veteran lineman Damien Woody at RT.
As you’d expect with a rookie QB, the Jets will want to run the ball behind that line and they have the horses to do it. Thomas Jones is a rarity as a 31-year old back but he can still get the job done. He’s rushed for over 1,000 yards four years in a row and was selected for his first Pro Bowl last year. The extremely dangerous Leon Washington is his running mate.
Jerricho Cotchery is now the #1 WR. When the Jets have to pass, Mark Sanchez, the aforementioned rook QB, will also look to Chansi Stuckey and TE Dustin Keller.
It’s not hard to guess what the gameplan for either side will be. The Jets will try to run the ball and the Titans will try to stop it and make the rook beat them.
Special teams: Watch out for Washington, a Pro Bowler and All-Pro as a return specialist, on kick returns. He had a 43-yarder last week. Washington and Leonhard have shared the punt return duties and I’d obviously rather see Leonhard back there. Nine-year veteran Jay Feely will kick again.
What it all means: The Titans will have to do what hasn’t been accomplished yet, and they may need to do it more than once. The offense will have to get the ball into the end zone. This Ryan/Ratbird/Jet defense doesn’t seem conducive to surrendering TDs on long drives so the Titans will have to depend on scoring with a short field and hope for a big play from Chris Johnson or Nate Washington.
Matchups to watch: Not that I’ll like the outcome, probably, but Kevin Mawae should have a very tough time against Jenkins. Revis has claimed he covered Moss and Johnson without over the top help but I’d like to see what he does against Washington. Maybe Nate can get behind him for a score.
When the Titans are on defense this week, I’ll be watching Tony Brown going against Faneca on occasion, and as TV permits. I want to see the best at what he does and how Brown fares against him. Any time the other team has a player with Faneca’s credentials (eight Pro Bowls and six first-team All-Pro selections) I’m going to watch him a lot.
Several years ago, when Faneca was in Seattle, I was looking forward to watching Faneca vs Haynesworth when the Seahawks visited. Both men were on the injury report that week and not at 100%, so the matchup didn’t quite live up to its billing. Still, it was a good matchup to watch.
Prediction: With a rookie QB, the Jets won’t be nearly as pass-happy as the Texans were last week, so that in itself will make the defense look better. If the defense can hold the Jets to 17 points that would be a 50% improvement. I believe they’ll do even better and the offense will find the end zone.
News: Terry McCormick reports the Titans have signed Reggie Hodges to punt this week. Hodges, a former Jet, should be very familiar with the capricious Meadowlands wind currents. CB Cary Williams was released to make room for Hodges on the roster. McCormick also reported the Titans brought two snappers in for a look-see. I haven’t heard anything about an injury to Ken Amato, so draw your own conclusions.