Sept 9, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan and New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez (6) talk during the pre-game warmup for their game against the Buffalo Bills at MetLIfe Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-US PRESSWIRE
Coming off of a 48-28 win over division rival Buffalo, Mark Sanchez, Rex Ryan and company head into Pittsburgh to face Big Ben and the Steelers in a tough conference matchup, and a rematch of the 2010 AFC Championship game. The Steelers are coming off an opening week loss on Sunday night at the hands of Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, 31-19. Let’s take a look at the history between these two teams.
These two teams have faced each other 19 times, with the Steelers leading the series 15-4, but more recently, the Jets have played well, winning the last three regular season matchups between these two teams. The last time in the regular season was December 19, 2010, when the Jets won 22-17, sealed by a Jason Taylor safety. We all remember the AFC title game, so we are not going to rehash that memory.
Mark Sanchez has played well against the Steelers so far in his career. In two past matchups, including the postseason, he has passed for 403 yards with 2 TDs vs. 0 INTs & 92.3 passer rating. The Steelers have been great in home openers, winning the last 9 in a row, a streak second only to the Patriots with 10. This will be a tough one for the Jets.
Turn the page for some keys to victory:
Aug. 25, 2012; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Heath Miller (83) against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-US PRESSWIRE
STOP HEATH MILLER
We talked about this yesterday, but it certainly bares repeating. Heath Miller will be a major factor in this football game. The Jets have had major troubles with tight ends in the past, and Big Ben trusts this guy more than most of his weapons. Ben targeted Heath 9 times last week, and he ended up with 4 receptions and a TD. He found spot spots between the linebackers and safeties all night long. The last time these two teams met(AFC title game), Miller averaged 19 yards per reception.
The Jets revamped the safety position, and drafted young linebackers just for this purpose, to stop the tight end. The first big test of this will come on tomorrow against the Steelers.
This basically needs to be a coming out party for Kyle Wilson. He will get the start, in place of the injured Darrelle Revis. The Jets are 3-0 in games without Darrelle in the Rex Ryan era, but that won’t make this one any easier. With Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace on the outside, and Jerricho Cotchery looking to play well against his former team, the Steelers passing game will be tough to deal with.
Whomever Kyle Wilson is lined up against, he will get picked on, you can put that in the bank. Will Wilson be up to the challenge? Major key to victory on Sunday.
Sept. 9, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Jeremy Kerley (11) makes a catch during the second quarter against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE
EXPLOIT THE MIDDLE OF THE STEELERS DEFENSE
This has the potential to be another huge game for Jeremy Kerley, and I am just speaking about as a wide receiver. The reason being, that Troy Polamalu will not be out there. Watch the game last week, Manning did everything he could to work around Troy, and for good reason. Without him, there should be opportunities in the passing game down the seam.
Who should benefit from that? The slot receiver, and that is Jeremy Kerley. Without Polamalu, and with the Jets not having Dustin Keller available, look for an increased workload for Kerley in the slot. We will see soon enough if he is up to the task.
KEEP THE TEMPO UP
We all saw during training camp how Tony Sparano preached tempo. That is going to be a big factor on Sunday. It would be wise for the Jets to work in some no-huddle offense. Again, look at the tape from last week. When Peyton and the Broncos huddled up, the offense seemed very pedestrian at best. But when they got in the no huddle, the Steelers had great difficulty.
The Jets are going to need to work some of that in to be successful against this defense.
ESTABLISH THE RUN
This goes without saying, but we know how important this is. For Mark Sanchez to be effective, the running game must get off the ground. Even if that means Tim Tebow sees an increased number of runs, that will open things up for the passing game.
There are your keys to the game. Enjoy!