The New York Jets face another big test on the road in Week 5 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Here are their top five keys to victory if they want to leave the Steel City victorious.
Oct 2, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell (26) runs the ball against the Kansas City Chiefs during the second half at Heinz Field. The Steelers won the game, 43-14. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports
The Pittsburgh Steelers (3-1) are a Super Bowl contender and their roster is chock full of young and talented players. While the New York Jets (1-3) boast their own talented unit of players.
The current betting line has the Jets as seven-point underdogs on the road in Heinz Field. This season the Jets have lost one close game and the rest of their losses have been ugly.
While the Jets are capable of keeping it close and even winning this game. This seems like the worst possible matchup for the Jets.
It’s eerily similar to the last time these two teams played when the Steelers came into the game as the heavy favorite. But the Jets cooked up the perfect game plan and came up with the upset, can that happen again? Let’s find out.
Next: 5. Stop the other guy
Jul 29, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Brandon LaFell (11) makes a move past cornerback Adam Jones (24) during training camp at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
5. Stop the other guy
Now, what do I mean by that? One of the Jets biggest problems has been their propensity for giving up the big play, we all know this.
The Jets have certainly gotten beat by some of the opponents best weapons. But overall, it seems the secondary options for teams have been doing arguably more damage.
Does the name Tanner McEvoy ring a bell? Well, it shouldn’t because he made his first career reception against the Jets last week and it went for 42 yards to the house.
While the Steelers certainly have a bevy of stars at their disposal, the other guys will be the key. If the Jets can prevent the other guy from going off, it’ll go a long way towards a Jets victory.
Next: 4. Don't be afraid to allow chunk plays
Oct 2, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) receives an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for dancing after scoring a touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs during the first half at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports
4. Don’t be afraid to allow chunk plays
Now this is going to sound strange, but sometimes when you play not to lose, you lose. The Jets have been beaten deep a lot this season.
You can tell that their secondary and team, in general, is scared of giving up the big play. So this past week the Seattle Seahawks ate the Jets alive underneath.
On passes of 10 air yards or less, the Jets have allowed a league-high 7.91 yards-per-attempt. While the Jets continue to let the busted coverage play kill them.
While on passes of 20 air yards or more, the Jets have allowed a league-worst 61.1 percent completion rate. So in short, the Jets have lost their confidence and can’t cover anyone. That must change and the Jets need to get back to the basics.
Next: 3. This defense has been sacked
Oct 2, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets defensive tackle Leonard Williams (92) sacks Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) in the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports
3. This defense has been sacked
What in the heck happened to that vaunted Jets front-seven? In the opening stanza, they had eight sacks and looked like they were going to take the NFL by storm.
And so far this season, they’ve yet to recover their mojo and it’s killing the team. A lot of it has to do with the previous slide.
Opposing teams are neutralizing the Jets pass rush with the short passing game. Ben Roethlisberger is a quarterback who can get the ball out quickly.
And even when he doesn’t, he’s so big that it takes three or four guys to bring him down to the turf. This is a game where the Jets defense must stick to their fundamentals because they’re going to have broken plays with Big Ben’s ability to scramble around.
Next: 2. Win the turnover battle
2. Win the turnover battle
While this may seem obvious, it really is. This could literally be in every top-five keys to the game.
But despite appearing on this list every week, the Jets continue to ignore the narrative and their record is suffering. The Jets have the worst turnover differential in the league at -11.
In the Steelers lone loss this season, they lost the turnover battle. Not only are the Jets turning the football over at an unsustainable rate, their defense isn’t helping them out.
The defense for the Jets was supposed to be the backbone of this team. So far this season they haven’t been and they only have forced three turnovers. They’re going to need a lot more than that to flip the script on Sunday.
Next: 1. Stop the run, stop the Steelers
Oct 2, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell (26) takes the field against the Kansas City Chiefs during the first quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
1. Stop the run, stop the Steelers
The only blue print that exists to beat the Steelers is what the Philadelphia Eagles did a couple weeks ago. Many consider that a hiccup performance and so far everything points to that.
But the Jets have to look at what the Eagles did successfully and take judicious notes. One of the notes this coaching staff must have written down was the running game.
The Eagles held the Steelers to 29 yards rushing and forced them to be one-dimensional. Obviously, the Eagles didn’t have to face Bell, but the Jets have to try and do the same thing.
The Jets are the second best team against the run in the league this season. They’ve only allowed 70 yards per game on the ground, which should play into their hands against the Steelers.