The NY Jets will need to do these three things if they want to win in Week 2.
The NY Jets opened their season with a reality check 27-17 loss to the Buffalo Bills. The final score is very misleading. The Jets were outclassed and dominated.
Some would say that New York’s fan base had their worst fears realized, but to quote the late Dennis Green, “the Jets are who we thought they were.”
Last Sunday, It was a tale of two franchises on different levels — the Bills are a franchise built to contend now, while the Jets are not.
New York looked like a team playing together for the first time because they were. In comparison, the Bills were picking up right where they left off last season.
New York didn’t have the benefit of preseason games this summer, something they needed, and it showed. The Jets have new receivers, an entirely new offensive line, and are missing their best player from a year ago.
Although admittedly, safety Marcus Maye fit into the ‘Jamal Adams’ role nicely last week (10 tackles, two sacks, 2 TFLs, 2 QB hits, 1 FF, and 2 PDs). Enough to earn him consideration for NFL Defensive Player of the Week.
A beacon of light in an otherwise dark tunnel.
Life doesn’t get any easier for the Jets in Week 2 with the defending NFC West Champion San Francisco 49ers coming to town. Usually, on paper, this would be the type of game that the Jets could steal.
A west coast team making the trip east-coast to play the early game at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday. However, the NFC champs are coming off some humble pie themselves with a 24-20 loss to their division-rival Arizona Cardinals.
The old trap game theory goes entirely out the window with San Francisco at 0-1 chomping at the bit to get a win.
The 49ers are 6.5-point favorites on the road against the Jets and New York will be playing in an empty MetLife Stadium so any home-field advantage is completely negated. In many ways, the Jets’ first two opponents are the model of what New York aspires to be.
Both the Bills and Niners rebuilt their franchises with good coaching and drafting and have created a healthy support system for their young franchise quarterbacks. New York wants to one day be what the 49ers are.
On Sunday, they hope to beat them.
Here are the top three keys for a Jets victory this Sunday.
Next: 3. The Jets offense must negate the 49ers pass rush
3. The NY Jets’ offense must negate the 49ers’ pass rush
Shouldn’t this key be about the Jets’ offensive line rather than its offense? As the old saying goes, there’s more than one way to skin a cat, as evidenced by last week’s win by Arizona over San Francisco.
The Cardinals coaching staff wisely devised a gameplan that camouflaged what was otherwise a mismatch — Arizona’s offensive line versus San Francisco’s dominant defensive front.
Of course, it helps to have a dynamic and mobile playmaker like Kyler Murray at quarterback, but the Cardinals gameplan was designed perfectly to negate the Niners pass rush.
Outside of maybe Ron Rivera’s work in Week 1 with Washington, from a schematic standpoint, no one had a better opening week coaching than Kliff Kingsbury.
The Cardinals had over 400 yards of offense against one of the league’s best defenses, but more importantly, they gave up only two sacks to the 49ers vaunted defensive front. They did this by getting rid of the ball football quickly and shortening their pass routes.
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The Cardinals receivers averaged just eight yards per reception. The most extended pass play of the day was 33 yards, and it came on a catch and run to the one-yard line by Deandre Hopkins.
The Jets do not have a talent at wide receiver like Hopkins. Last week against the Niners, the superstar wideout had a mind-numbing 16 targets and a career-high 14 catches for 151 yards.
The Niners gave Hopkins plenty of cushion and relied on their pass rush to “get there,” but Kingsbury schemed his receivers open with short underneath routes.
The onus is on Adam Gase to devise the same type of gameplan that Arizona had for Sam Darnold and his passing attack. Gase has already gone on record, saying that he needs to do a better job of getting Darnold into a rhythm early in the game.
The way to do that is to design plays that allow Darnold to complete high percentage passes. While he certainly does not possess the playmaking legs of Kyler Murray, one of Darnold’s biggest strengths is throwing on the run.
Gase needs to move Darnold in the pocket to set up quick and comfortable throws. The absence of cornerback Richard Sherman from San Francisco’s secondary could help Darnold and the Jets receivers.
The Jets’ brand new offensive line held up very well in Week 1. However, with all due respect to Buffalo, the 49ers boast one of the best fronts in all of football, led by the likes of Nick Bosa, Dee Ford, Arik Armstead, and others.
If Sam Darnold sits in the pocket too long and is indecisive, then it’s going to be a very long day for the Jets’ offense.
Next: 2. Slow down the 49ers' rushing attack
2. The NY Jets must slow down the 49ers’ rushing attack
The best pure rushing football team in the entire sport is the San Francisco 49ers. Yes, the Baltimore Ravens finished first in the league last year in rushing, but that’s because their all-world quarterback Lamar Jackson rushed for a whopping 1,206 yards in 2019.
Baltimore has an excellent offensive line, good running backs, and a terrific scheme designed by Greg Roman, but it’s Jackson that makes the whole attack work.
When it comes to Kyle Shanahan and his rushing attack with the 49ers, they are as old school as it gets. The Niners employ an 80’s styled ground attack with constricted formations.
Kyle Juszczyk is an unsung hero and a secret weapon for San Francisco. The bruising fullback is in a class of his own in what is a dying breed in pro football. Insert any back behind Juszcyk and just let him lead the way.
For the Jets to have a chance to win this game. Their defensive line has to be up to the task of stuffing the run and keeping the 49ers from springing big plays in their ground game.
One of the reasons that Arizona controlled the time of possession against San Francisco last week was that they limited big runs. The 49ers rushed for 123 yards total at nearly five yards a clip, but their longest rush of the day was only sixteen yards.
The entire Jets front-seven has to be up to the challenge this weekend. Getting Avery Williamson back soon would certainly help what is a depleted corps at inside linebacker.
The 49ers also have one of the league’s best red-zone offenses, so holding up against the run and limiting San Francisco to field goals in this area will be critical.
Slowing down the Niners ground game will help the Jets in their most important key to victory this weekend.
Next: 1. Force the 49ers to rely on their passing game
1. The NY Jets must force the 49ers to rely on their passing game
The Jets are facing a team that mirrors them in having the most banged-up and unproven pass-catching corps in the league. One could argue that the Jets have more talent at wide receiver than the 49ers do presently.
Breshad Perriman and Jamison Crowder would be starters on their team. San Francisco recently picked up veteran wide receiver Mohamed Sanu to try and bolster what is the weakest position on their roster. The Niners took a hit placing promising young receiver Deebo Samuel on IR.
Last week, San Francisco completed only four passes to their receivers for 41 yards on 11 targets. Kendrick Bourne led the way with two catches for 34 yards. Trent Taylor contributed with two receptions for a total of just seven yards.
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The key to defending the pass against the 49ers is containing superstar tight end, George Kittle, which is no small task. Kittle also has injury issues to monitor (knee sprain), although in typical Kittle fashion, he is blowing off the injury as no big deal.
In the offseason, San Francisco sneakily added former Pro Bowler Jordan Reed to their tight end room. The Jets safeties and linebackers will have their work cut out for them guarding this tandem.
Undoubtedly, Jimmy Garoppolo looks like a superstar, but he doesn’t always play like one — a big reason for that is his supporting cast at receiver.
The team lacks a go-to weapon on the outside that commands the attention of opposing secondaries. The 49ers employ a spread-the-wealth type attack that utilizes backs and tight ends heavily with high-percentage passes.
The Jets’ secondary has to play better than it did last week. While Marcus Maye and Blessuan Austin played like stars, players like Pierre Desir were victimized by the Bills.
Buffalo had plenty of open receivers that Josh Allen either missed or overthrew and he still threw for 300 yards — a first for Allen in his short career.
The 49ers have one of the best offensive lines in the league, and they have added Trent Williams to the party. As such, mustering a pass rush against San Francisco will be difficult.
The Jets’ defensive backs must win their battles on the outside and force Garoppolo into bad decisions. It might be New York’s best way of stealing a victory at home in front of empty seats.
The alternative is an 0-2 start, which would match the empty feeling that all Jets fans have right now.