For the Rams vs Jets Week 10 matchup, here are the top three keys for a much-needed Gang Green victory.
Nov 6, 2016; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi (23) carries the ball as New York Jets linebacker Julian Stanford (51) and New York Jets linebacker David Harris (52) both make the tackle during the first half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
The New York Jets will host the Los Angeles Rams in a game that projects to be incredibly sloppy. Gang Green sits at 3-6 following their loss to the Miami Dolphins while Jeff Fisher’s group is 3-5 after falling to the Carolina Panthers. For the Rams vs Jets Week 10 matchup, both teams actually have decent defenses, although question marks at the quarterback position hurt. A loss would be the nail in the coffin for either of the two.
Todd Bowles and company embarrassed themselves royally last Sunday. Special teams blunders, turnovers, and penalties continue to plague a team that had playoff aspirations heading into the season. The Jets took the lead late in the fourth quarter and coughed it up instantly on the ensuing kickoff. Kenyan Drake took it 96 yards to the house to get Miami the 27-23 win. It’s gotten bad enough for New York where you could think about laying down and rolling with Bryce Petty the rest of the way.
The Rams look terrible as well. Case Keenum is developing into an interception machine and the fans are beginning to chant for first overall pick Jared Goff. He may not be ready yet, but it’s time to consider a change at the position if you’re Los Angeles. Defenses know Todd Gurley is getting the ball and they’ve scored a mere 130 points at the halfway point of the year. That averages out to just north of 16 points per game. You won’t come out on top with numbers like that.
Looking at this matchup on paper, you have to give the Jets the slight edge. They’re back in the Meadowlands where they’ve been competitive in every contest. The Cincinnati Bengals won on a late field goal, Seattle pulled away towards the end and they took care of the Baltimore Ravens. Things are much different when you’re home. Without further ado, here are the top three keys to victory for New York.
Next: 3. Load the box
3. Load the box
As said previously, everyone knows Gurley is getting the ball. That means the Jets should keep everyone close to the line of scrimmage like they did against Jay Ajayi. The ‘Unicorn’ still rushed for 111 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries, however, a lot of it was based off a couple runs. With the exception of David Johnson, Gang Green has stuffed all of the running backs they’ve faced thus far. It’s pretty obvious why they’re a top-five run defense every year.
Jeremy Hill, LeSean McCoy, Spencer Ware, Christine Michael, Le’Veon Bell, Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell make up the group of guys they’ve held in check. The bunch combined for a total of 328 rushing yards on 101 attempts against New York’s front. That rounds out to about 3.2 yards per clip. There aren’t many things for Bowles to keep his chin up about, but this is one of them. The same can happen this week given the Rams inept passing attack.
Look for Bowles to do what’s right in this situation. Loading the box to contain Gurley is what any coach would do against Los Angeles. Muhammad Wilkerson, Leonard Williams, Sheldon Richardson, Steve McLendon and the linebackers have been the crew to lean on in the first half of the campaign. If rookie sensation Darron Lee can suit up, success should come even easier for the front-seven. This matchup plays right into the Jets’ favor.
Next: 2. Contain Tavon Austin
Oct 23, 2016; London, United Kingdom; Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Tavon Austin (11) carries the ball against the New York Giants during game 16 of the NFL International Series at Twickenham Statdium. The Giants defeated the Rams 17-10. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
2. Contain Tavon Austin
If there’s one thing New York can’t afford to do, it’s let Tavon Austin get in open space. The West Virginia product can be a weapon on kick returns, punt returns, passing plays and even in the backfield on jet sweeps. Los Angeles loves to use him in a variety of ways, but we’ll predominately see him lined up in the slot. Since Kenny Britt (6’3) and Brian Quick (6’4) have the height to make an impact on the outside, there’s no point in using Austin in the same way.
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So far, the 2013 eighth-overall selection has 37 catches for 316 yards and two touchdowns. On the ground, he has 14 rushes for 63 yards and on punt returns, he has 20 returns for 184 yards. He hasn’t produced in the kick return department, although Fisher likes to utilize him as a decoy. On occasion, Benny Cunningham fakes a reverse to Austin on a return and the kicking team has to account for both of them. The Jets special teams woes make things a bit scary here.
As a result, the Rams could perhaps try some trickery on Sunday. If Drake can take a kick 96 yards for a touchdown, Los Angeles can pull a rabbit out of their hat with Austin. Bowles has to tidy up the special teams unit and prevent a big play. On defense, they need to stick Buster Skrine on him in the slot. That’s where he excels and matches up best with receivers in terms of size. Speed kills and it can destroy New York in Week 10.
Next: 1. Convert in the red zone
Oct 23, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets running back Matt Forte (22) celebrates his touchdown run during the second half at MetLife Stadium. The Jets defeated the Ravens 24-16. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
1. Convert in the red zone
For the Jets to have any chance in this one, they have to come through in the red zone. We’ve constantly seen Ryan Fitzpatrick turn it over inside the 20 and leave valuable points on the board. His debacle against the Kansas City Chiefs and last week’s meltdown remind us of the dark 2012 Mark Sanchez days. He threw a touchdown to Jalin Marshall late, however, it came after an absolute gift in the Dolphins’ muffed punt snap. He wouldn’t have had the opportunity if it wasn’t for the blunder.
While Fitzpatrick has been poor, it’s difficult to hide the pitiful play calling. For some reason, Chan Gailey has dialed up less runs in the red zone. Interceptions and field goals are likely to happen for any team if the offensive coordinator isn’t doing his job right. Matt Forte ripped apart Miami for 92 yards on just 12 carries. How does your star running back only carry the ball 12 times? Bilal Powell deserves his workload too, but you can’t just avoid pounding the ball in the red zone.
What the Jets need to do is feed Forte when they get near pay dirt. We all saw what happened against Buffalo, Baltimore, and Cleveland when he got the ball in the red zone. It may be more challenging against a stout Rams run defense, although moving the ball at home has been much easier for New York. The crowd is on their side and the players feel in control in their own environment. No more self-inflicted wounds. Take care of the ball and feed your best players inside the 20.