Falcons vs. Jets: 3 keys to victory for Gang Green
By Ryan Patti
The New York Jets are coming off a crushing loss to Miami. They’ll have to play a full 60 minutes on Sunday to get back to .500.
Week 8 is here which means the New York Jets are back home. They’ll square off with the Atlanta Falcons in a contest that has plenty of meaning for both teams given their losing streaks. When these two met in 2013, Gang Green came out on top 30-28 in thrilling fashion. It may come down to the fourth quarter once again.
Todd Bowles and company blew a 14-point lead for the second straight week. The Dolphins scored 17 unanswered in the fourth to pull off the 31-28 win. Like we saw in Week 15 of 2016, Matt Moore had a field day. You can’t pin this collapse entirely on Josh McCown.
The Falcons laid an egg in Foxboro as they fell to New England 23-7. Matt Ryan and the offense went 2/9 on third down and 1/3 on fourth down. Dan Quinn’s defense held Tom Brady in check, although you can’t win if you can’t score. Putting points on the board have been Atlanta’s biggest issue thus far.
Despite the way these teams have performed recently, the Falcons are still the favorite. They have the better coach and more talent on both sides of the ball. Can the Jets make an upset happen? Here are their three keys to victory.
Next: 3. Use Cover 1
3. Use Cover 1
New York’s secondary was the culprit of last week’s meltdown. Kenny Stills had his way with Buster Skrine and Bowles didn’t feel the need to make an adjustment. You obviously want Skrine to battle through a tough outing, but at some point, you have to give him help over the top. Bowles would be hard-pressed not to aide the corners on Sunday.
Atlanta has multiple burners who can hurt a defense. Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu, Taylor Gabriel, Justin Hardy and Marvin Hall have all found paydirt this season. Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian isn’t afraid to send any of these five deep, especially against a defense that has been extremely vulnerable against the long ball.
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Second-round rookie Marcus Maye has to play centerfield. It’s fine to have Jamal Adams in the box as long as there’s at least one safety deep. The Jets had Adams and Maye close to the line of scrimmage frequently in Week 7 and paid the price. It’ll be interesting to see if Bowles has learned his lesson.
Next: 2. Dink and dunk
2. Dink and dunk
John Morton’s group had their fair share of success dinking and dunking in Miami. Matt Forte led the team with 41 receiving yards on five receptions and Bilal Powell was right there with him. He had a mere two catches and managed to pick up 40 yards. Given the rainstorm that’s expected to roll through the Tri-State area, uber dinking and dunking would be smart. It’d also be effective.
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The Falcons’ defense is susceptible to the short pass. In last week’s contest, New England’s running backs combined for 45 yards and a touchdown on seven catches.
In Week 6, Miami beat them without completing a pass longer than 18 yards. Even Chicago thrived as Tarik Cohen and Jordan Howard totaled 11 receptions for 61 yards and a score in the season opener.
Forte and Powell need to see a heavy workload for Gang Green’s offense to stay on the field. McCown won’t deliver his best throws in the anticipated weather. Look for Morton to run a lot of bubble screens to Robby Anderson, Jermaine Kearse, and Jeremy Kerley. This approach is safe and it’d keep Atlanta’s offense on the sideline.
Next: 1. Contain the dynamic duo
1. Contain the dynamic duo
The Falcons may have an MVP quarterback and arguably the best receiver in the NFL, but their offense revolves around Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. These two can do it all. They can run between the tackles, catch passes out of the backfield and leave the defense in the dust if they find open space.
Freeman is off to yet another hot start and he’s exhibiting more power than in year’s past. He has 91 carries for 425 yards and five touchdowns. Through the air, he has 14 catches for 99 yards. Coleman isn’t finding the end zone as much as he did in 2016, though he’s balling out in the yardage department with 386 all-purpose yards.
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These two can be contained if Bowles’ front wins the battle in the trench. Leonard Williams, Kony Ealy and Muhammad Wilkerson (if he suits up) have to continue wreaking havoc. The trio did a solid job on All-Pro Jay Ajayi in South Beach, so they’re more than capable of stuffing Freeman and Coleman. Tackling machines Darron Lee and Demario Davis have business to take care of as well.