The New York Jets season has officially spiraled out of control following their Week 14 loss. A flawless performance is needed to spoil New Orleans.
Week 15 is here and the New York Jets’ road trip carries on. They’re set to take on the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in the ‘Big Easy.’ Gang Green is now 5-8 while the Saints are 9-4 in first place of the NFC South. We’re looking at two completely different teams.
The Jets were pummeled in Denver as they were shutout 23-0. They notched a mere 100 total yards and lost Josh McCown for the remainder of the year. The defense did their job allowing a mere 17 first downs and 23 points. This one is on John Morton and company.
New Orleans dropped a heartbreaker in Atlanta 20-17. Drew Brees threw a late red zone interception which all but sealed the Falcons victory. The loss tightened their race for the division crown, however, they’re still the favorites win it.
They’re the favorites to win this outing as well. Bryce Petty is under center for New York and what unfolded last Sunday wasn’t pretty. The Baylor graduate’s progression may not have improved from a year ago. Could things manage to change for just one week? Here are the Jets’ three keys to victory.
Next: 3. Use dime coverage
3. Use dime coverage
Todd Bowles has made his fair share of mistakes in 2017 and can’t afford to make many more. It all starts this week for him and the rest of the defensive staff. You need a plethora of speedsters in coverage against this Saints’ offense or Brees will have a career day. All of their weapons are capable of making an impact through the air.
Eight players have double-digit receptions and eight have recorded at least one touchdown. Sean Payton runs a vertical scheme and often times goes four or five-wide. Linebackers have no shot against guys like Michael Thomas, Ted Ginn Jr., Brandon Coleman, Willie Snead and Tommylee Lewis. Cornerbacks and safeties are needed against that crop.
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What the Jets have to do is let their corners loose. Morris Claiborne, Darryl Roberts, Buster Skrine and Rashard Robinson should be on the field 80 percent of the time. It gives New Orleans little room to work with in terms of finding a mismatch. Make Mark Ingram be the one who has to beat you, not Brees.
Next: 2. Steer away from Marshon Lattimore
2. Steer away from Marshon Lattimore
If there’s anything Petty can do to keep New York in this contest from start to finish, it’s taking care of the football. Not throwing in rookie star Marshon Lattimore’s direction will help in that department. The Ohio State product has been one of the best corners in the league. He has fearlessly taken on the NFL’s best receivers and shined under the spotlight.
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On the season, he has 39 tackles, 10 pass deflections, three interceptions (one for a TD) and a forced fumble. Pro Football Focus thinks highly of him too. He’s ranked as the fifth-best corner with his 90.2 overall grade. His 90.3 in coverage ranks fourth out of the 173 corners to earn a snap in 2017. His run defense grade of 69 is 77th amongst that same bunch.
Morton has an opportunity to work out of the slot here. Jeremy Kerley is back from his suspension and Austin Seferian-Jenkins has a favorable matchup as Petty’s security blanket. The Saints also surrender a fifth-worst 4.5 yards per clip, so running the ball is where most of the yards can come from. The bottom line is that Morton would be hard pressed to go anywhere near Lattimore.
Next: 1. Milk the clock
1. Milk the clock
Much like teams do with New England, keeping New Orleans’ offense off the field is the recipe for beating them. The Jets have struggled in sustaining long drives over the course of the season, but they’ve shown flashes on occasion. Time of possession is most important against groups like the Saints, a squad who is clearly better on paper.
Some of the flashes Gang Green showed were in Weeks 3 and 13. In the first meeting with Miami, New York had the ball for over 36 minutes. In their game against Kansas City, the Chiefs’ time of possession was a staggering 17:11. Of course, that was because they scored quickly on nearly every drive, but the Jets had them worn down by the fourth quarter.
Next: Early expectations for the return of Bryce Petty
What Morton and the offense need to do is simple. Don’t abandon the run game, milk the play clock inside of five on a majority of plays and take what the defense gives you. Incomplete and forced passes fail offenses looking to accomplish this goal. If the Jets can’t get this done, they won’t win. It’s impossible to trade touchdowns with New Orleans.