First a few updates:
1. Lito Sheppard, Donald Strickland, Jim Leonhard, Wayne Hunter and Larry Izzo sat out practice today. Darrelle Revis and Kerry Rhodes were also limited. Despite the endless list of defensive backs on this list, Rex Ryan expressed confidence that all of them would be available on Sunday, withthe possible exception of Strickland. He didn’t rule out bringing in free agent Corey Ivy by the end of the week, if it looks like both Sheppard and Strickland won’t be able to go on Sunday. Ivy is familiar with Ryan’s system from his time in Baltimore, and would be able in step in right away.
2. Congratulations to linebacker Jason Trusnik for winning the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week Award.
3. Rex Ryan singled out Vernon Gholston for praise in his press conference, saying he was awarded a game ball for putting together an all around solid game, including saving a touchdown on a hustle play during one of Chris Johnson’s big runs.
Jets vs. Saints: Key Match-Ups
Tomorrow check back for an excessively comprehensive breakdown of the Jets/Saints game and then again on Friday for my prediction, today I am going to focus on the key individual match-ups for this Sunday’s game.
The Jets Banged Up Secondary vs. Marques Colston/Devery Henderson/Robert Meachem/Jeremy Shockey: With our without Lito Sheppard and Donald Strickland, the Jets will have their hands full against the wide variety of weapons the Saints have on offense. Darrelle Revis should be able to handle Marques Colston, but there will pressure on the rest of the Jets secondary to keep the speedsters Henderson and Meachem in check. If the Jets are without Sheppard and Strickland, Dwight Lowery and Drew Coleman will again need to respond with big time efforts off the bench. Jeremy Shockey is becoming a bigger part of the Saints offense, so expect to see Eric Smith shadowing him on passing downs. Smith did an excellent job against Owen Daniels in week one and continues to develop as a playmaker in the Jets defense.
Thomas Jones/Leon Washington/Jets Offensive Line vs. Saints Front Seven: The Jets have stuck to their running game through the first three weeks but haven’t had anywhere near the success they did last season. Thomas Jones is under 4 yards per carry and is a couple of big runs against Houston from being under 3 yards per carry. Leon Washington is right at 4 yards per carry but hasn’t ripped off any big ones yet this season. The Jets must run the ball successfully to keep the Saints offense off the field for as long as possible. Don’t be surprised to see Shonn Greene get a few reps if the Jones has another slow start. However, all the focus can’t be on Jones and Washington. The offensive line needs to do a better job of opening up holes for their pro-bowl running backs.
Bart Scott vs. Reggie Bush: Don’t forget a few seasons ago, when Scott had this to say about Bush after the Ravens put a beatdown on New Orleans, “The media darling, aka the golden boy of the NFL, tried to take a cheap shot at me, so I told him I was going to put some extra on it. He can do all those shakes he wants, but I wasn’t going anywhere. I put a little hot sauce on that ankle.” This was after a play in the 4th quarter, where Bush left with a sore ankle after Scott tackled him. In subsequent interviews, Scott said he wasn’t trying to imply that he intentionally hurt Bush, but rather was referencing the spicy food in New Orleans and was joking around. I haven’t seen footage of hit but from clicking around the Internet, it appears most people don’t think it was anywhere near a dirty play by Scott. One of our most frequent readers, my good friend Dan is a big Reggie Bush lover and correctly pointed out he is second in offensive yards on the team, so the pressure will be on Scott, David Harris and the rest of the Jets linebackers to contain him on his receptions out of the backfield. Bush has struggled running the ball (111 yards, with a 3.7 per carry average) but been a big factor in the passing game (164 yards, 11 yards per reception).
Mark Sanchez vs. Tracy Porter/Roman Harper/Darren Sharper/Jabari Greer: The Saints secondary is tied for the league lead in passes defensed and interceptions. There will be pressure on Mark Sanchez in this game to put up some points through the air, so the rookie must do a better job of protecting the ball than he did a week ago. Sanchez has looked good when throwing the ball down the field so far this season so let’s see if he takes some shots to Jerricho Cotchery, Dustin Keller, or maybe even David Clowney, fresh off his Twitter suspension.
Marques Colston Almost Has Hands As Good As Mine