The Jets take on a familiar foe to Rex Ryan on Sunday night, the Baltimore Ravens. We all know the history of Rex Ryan and the Ravens, defensive coach for a decade, almost got the head coaching job..etc. Here’s a preview:
WATERSHED GAME FOR FRANCHISE
I am not an alarmist when I watch the Jets. They lost last week, and they are 2-1 heading into Sunday night. One week in the grand scheme is not a big deal. However, the fact that they lost is not the big concern, it’s HOW they lost.
In 41 games under Rex Ryan, the Jets have never been beaten this way. For a decade with the Ravens, and now 2 plus seasons with the Jets, Rex Ryan’s bread and butter has been the run defense. The Jets have been beaten under Rex Ryan, we all know that. But the run defense has never been exposed this way. Even last year, when the Jets lost 45-3 to the New England Patriots, there was a major injury, Jim Leonhard. This caused havoc to the defense. 2009 in the AFC championship game, Peyton Manning carved them up in the second half, but that again was pass defense.
For 2 plus seasons, the Jets have been able to cling to their run defense as their strength. Until last week, nobody ran on the Jets defense, nobody. The Oakland Raiders said, “We know you can stop the run, now stop our guy.” And the Jets couldn’t do it. They couldn’t do it to the tune of over 7 yards per carry. Ray Rice is licking his lips watching the game tape of the Jets/Raiders game. The Raiders countered the Jets defense, showing that it is beatable.
Can the Jets counter? That is what makes this a big game for the Jets franchise, and for the Rex Ryan era. The Jets were clearly punched in the mouth last week. Now can they counter, or have they been exposed? If Ray Rice, who is running for 5.3 yards per carry so far this season, has a big game against the Jets, if the Jets get beaten up again on the ground, it’s a very, very bad sign.
Now to some specific keys.
SEAL THOSE EDGES
The biggest problem last week was getting to the edges. Darren McFadden exposed the Jets defense to maybe being a bit slower on the outside than anyone has realized. When the Jets can keep the RB’s to the inside, it will play to their strength. The re-signing of Aaron Maybin will help aid in the speed problem. But the major battle to watch when it comes to this…
RAY RICE VS THE JETS FRONT SEVEN
The Jets lost this battle last week, clearly. They lost it to the tune of the worst showing in the Rex Ryan era. 7 yards per carry is not going to work. You can’t take any credit away from the Raiders, who sealed off the interior line, which gave McFadden the opportunity to bounce it outside and use his breakneck speed. Ray Rice is averaging 5.3 yards per carry so far in 2011. He is more of a brusing, physical runner, which plays more to the Jets strength, but Rice can bounce it outside as well, and if the front seven doesn’t come to play there will be problems. It’s a good sign to see that coach Ryan, Mike Pettine and the staff really got on the defense this week, and let them know how badly they played, so expect a rebound performance Sunday night. If not, there will be major problems.
JETS OFFENSIVE LINE VS RAVENS FRONT SEVEN
Jets fans, Jetpress readers, join me in prayer. Pray that Nick Mangold is ready to go on Sunday night. The Jets offensive line has been dreadful, and it is evident in all fazes of the game. So far, the vaunted “ground and pound” attack has amassed 82 yards per game. Mark Sanchez has been running for his life, nearly hurting his arm week 2, and breaking his nose last week.
Join me in another prayer that the nose is the last body part Mark Sanchez breaks.
Let’s bare in mind, they are a different team now. The ground and pound team from 2009 is not their anymore. The line is different, no more Alan Faneca, no more Damian Woody. No Thomas Jones. Shonn Greene has not shown that he can shoulder the attack by himself. They didn’t have Holmes, Burress, Keller and Mason. The weapons available to Mark Sanchez now are far better than the weaspons he had has a rookie. If we look at the team objectively, they are not ground and pound anymore. Not to the depth they were previously, and that’s OK. They need to play to the strengths that they have.
However, they need to establish the run as a legitimate threat. 82 yards per game does not strike the fear of the run in the hearts of anybody. Mark Sanchez will be an even better QB with the play action pass available to him. They need to begin to establish the run this week.
This will be a tough week to get the running game healthy, which is why Nick Mangold will make a big difference. The line has a tough task going against Haloti Ngata, Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs and friends.
The line has a chore ahead of it, both to establish the run and keep Mark Sanchez with two feet on the ground.
Here are your keys to the game on Sunday night. See you on the other side.
Topics: Alan Schechter, Baltimore Ravens, Darren McFadden, Derrick Mason, Dustin Keller, Haloti Ngata, Mike Pettine, NFL, NIck Mangold, Oakland Raiders, Plaxico Burress, Ray Lewis, Ray Rice, Rex Ryan, Santonio Holmes, Shonn Greene, Terrell Suggs