Part three of our series breaking down the Christmas Eve match-up between the New York Jets and New York Giants, looks at the Jets passing defense versus the Giants passing offense, with featured commentary from myself, Chris Celletti, and Jeff Capellini
New York Giants Passing Yards Per Game – 299.0 (3rd in the NFL)
New York Jets Passing Yards Allowed Per Game – 205.1 (7th in the NFL)
Chris Celletti: The Jets have the elite cornerback duo in the AFC in Darelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie. I have been quick to bash Cromartie at times, but he’s been good this season, while Revis just goes about his business being the best corner in the league by a country mile. The Giants have a lot of talent at the wide receiver position, and coupled with Eli Manning pose one of the best aerial threats in football. It will be interesting to see how the Jets choose to match up. Does Darelle Revis take the Giants’ best receiver, Hakeem Nicks, out of the game? Or does he stick on the speedy Victor Cruz, who Eli Manning has made into one of the best number twos in the league? Cromartie has a lot of success against bigger receivers, so you could see him get some time on Nicks as well. I’d expect the Jets’ corners to rotate their matchups depending on the situation, down and distance, etc. And then there’s always Mario Manningham, so the focus there will be on Kyle Wilson primarily in a good matchup. I give the Jets a slight, SLIGHT advantage in this matchup, with their ability to be physical at the line of scrimmage and play tight man coverage. They’ve been one of the better pass defenses all year, and they can shut down the Giants’ passing game if they play to their potential
Joe Caporoso: A terrific match-up on paper, which faces off the strength of each team. Eli Manning is having his best season and has three dangerous wide receivers. Fortunately, the Jets have been built to stop teams with talent on the outside, with the cornerback trio of Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, and Kyle Wilson. The Giants don’t have the tight end to take advantage of the Jets safety situation and their struggles in the middle of the field. It will be interesting to see how Rex Ryan chooses to use Revis. I would expect him to spend most of the game on Hakeem Nicks, but don’t be surprised to see him get time on Victor Cruz in certain situations, particularly on third downs. Ryan must find someway to manufacture a pass rush because Manning can carve them up with too much time in the pocket. Despite the Giants immense talent in this area, all of their receivers are prone to drops and we all know Manning throws a few head scratching passes each week.
TJ Rosenthal: The Giants passing game ranks 3rd in the NFL (200 yards) and Big Blue is 1st in the NFL in average scoring (9.6 pts) in the fourth quarter of games. The Jets defense is seventh stingiest through the air at 205 yards given up per game. Big Blue only scores 23.9 a game and the Jets average giving up 22.5 per game. What does this all mean? It means that the Jets will give up yards but as long as those yards don’t translate into points that reach the high 20’s, the Jets offense which scores at 24.2 a game in 2011, will be ok. This despite no Jim Leonhard and despite struggling to cover any tight end at all. Eli Manning has been great this season but we have a feeling that the Jets secondary will be plenty motivated to rally around Revis Island and make him proud this Saturday.
Jeff Capellini offers his opinion on the Jets offense versus the Giants defense, as a supplement to our coverage yesterday –
I honestly believe this is where the game will be decided. From where I am typing the Giants couldn’t ask for a better opponent to try to right their many wrongs. I say this because after watching the Jets for 14 games I have come to one indisputable conclusion: they do nothing really good on offense. The Jets don’t throw deep. Their passing game is largely predictable. They don’t use LaDainian Tomlinson anywhere near enough. Dustin Keller is on every opposing defensive coordinator’s radar screen. Santonio Holmes is not the deep threat he was supposed to be and that’s not of his doing. Plaxico Burress, as we’ve seen far too often this season and also out of no fault of his own, is either ignored or forced into positions where he’s ineffective.
Make no mistake, the Jets have quick-strike capability through the air but for whatever maddening reason they opt to never use it. We keep hearing about how bad the Giants’ secondary is. Well, we probably won’t find out on Saturday because come hell or high water the Jets will not try to exploit it .How does Mark Sanchez figure into all of this? The odds are we won’t find out because offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer has repeatedly refused to take the reins off his quarterback, or when he has, it’s been because the scoreboard has suggested he must. I suspect the Giants can run their base defense, send JPP after Sanchez and not have to worry about anything because until the Jets finally realize they have the weapons to be explosive, they won’t be. And don’t even get me started on the pass protection, for as long as Wayne Hunter is on the field, opponents will find a way to make Sanchez’s life miserable.
I’m equally disappointed in the running game, primarily because the Jets do not run the ball effectively off the edges. Maybe Shonn Greene isn’t built that way and Tomlinson no longer has the tools to be that player. The Jets have had their moments running up the middle and using counters, but even those seem to be sporadic. The scoreboard will dictate the approach, which is often something I disagree with outside of the final 7 minutes of a fourth quarter. Schottenheimer has had his moments of balanced play-calling, but the Jets have proven time and again this season they are not comfortable as a come-from-behind team. Their entire conservative nature is thrown all out of whack and they become prone to turnovers.
To win Saturday, the Jets have to hope the defense turns back the clock and forces Eli Manning into some turnovers, or that their schemes actually work. If this game becomes a shootout I do not like the Jets’ chances, but if they do get out to some kind of a lead I do think they have enough talent on both sides of the ball to get it from the Giants and keep it long enough.
If the Jets are somehow up 21-0 in the first half I’ll probably fall down from shock. They just have no offensive identity whatsoever. This is not to say the Giants are world-beaters. Not at all. The Jets have made their beds this season and their reluctance to adapt to how winning football is played these days is the very reason why they find themselves in the position they are in.