Jets TakeOff! Week 16 Preview: New York Jets vs. San Diego Chargers
By Alan Schechter
Dec 17, 2012; Nashville, TN, USA; New York Jets running back Shonn Green (23) runs with the ball against the Tennessee Titans during the first half at LP Field. Mandatory Credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports
Is it the beginning of the Greg McElroy era? Maybe. What it definitely begins is the “play for pride” or “play for next year” portion of the season. With a second consecutive season of missing the playoffs a reality, we know that major changes are coming. But for now, we have a game to talk about. Tomorrow afternoon at 1 PM, the Jets embark on their final home game of the year as the San Diego Chargers bring their 5-9 record to town. We know about the Jets loss, and the Chargers are also coming off of a loss last week, 31-7 to the Panthers. Let’s look at the history between these two teams:
These two teams met in October of 2011, and the Jets overcame an 11 point deficit to win 27-21. Mark Sanchez connected on 3 TD passes, all to Plaxico Burress, and Shonn Greene added 112 yards on the ground. The Chargers lead this series with an overall record of 19-12-1, but the Jets have won 3 out of the last 5. Here are some keys to a Jets victory:
RUN THE FOOTBALL
Not that this is any major consolation, but Shonn Greene only needs 49 yards to reach 1,000 rushing yards for the second consecutive season, a mark only 4 other Jets running backs have achieved. It won’t be easy, as the Chargers are ranked 7th overall against the run. Like we have talked about often around here, and around this fan base, this team is not set to win too many games via an aerial assault. That will especially be true when you account for a quarterback making his first start. The Jets are going to have to pound and pound until something breaks. It’s the only way that the running game can be effective and the only way that the Jets stay in this game. An aerial battle with Philip Rivers would not be pretty to watch.
GIVE MCELROY A GOOD SHOT
As well as Greg played against the Cardinals, he wasn’t asked to do very much. 7 pass attempts are not many, and the rest of his time he spent handing the ball off. No, he didn’t make any mistakes, but he didn’t have a CHANCE to make a mistake. What do I mean by that? The Jets must take this opportunity to see what they have in Greg McElroy. They have to see if he can do more than just hand the ball off. That means open the playbook a bit, and give him a chance to make a play. The games don’t mean anything, but if they don’t give him a chance, we won’t learn anything. And, the Chargers will stack the box, daring him to make a throw, so he is going to have to throw to win anyway. Give Greg a chance.
Dec 16, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) drops back to pass during the third quarter against the Carolina Panthers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE PHILIP RIVERS
Despite the fact that the Chargers are ranked 22nd overall in passing offense, Philip Rivers is still Philip Rivers. He has been hot of late, with 4 TDs vs 0 INTs and a 92 passer rating over his last two games. For his career in December, Rivers has amassed 52 TDs vs only 16 INTs, a 98.5 passer rating. Rivers, no matter the team record, will get the most out of his weapons. The Jets have been near the top of the league against the pass all year long, and they will need to bring their “A” game on Sunday.
ANTONIO GATES VS THE JETS SAFETIES
Typically we like to take a look at a matchup on the outside here. We break down whomever Antonio Cromartie will likely match up with, and highlight this as a key to the game. But this week, the outside guys are not the scariest. This week, the guy to watch out for is tight end Antonio Gates. Gates has played well against the Jets, with 2 TDs in the last 2 meetings. He needs only 21 more yards to achieve at least 500 in 9 consecutive seasons. AT 32 years old and in his 10th season, he may be on the latter part of his career, but make no mistake, he can still get it done. The Jets new and improved safeties have done a good job against the tight ends all year. They had better win this matchup for the Jets to have a chance to win this one.
There are your keys to the game. Hey, maybe we are witnessing the debut of the he QB who will lead us to the Super Bowl someday. Thanks for reading.