The New York Jets head into their third regular season game, a road trip to Miami, standing at 1-1, coming off of a very abysmal performance in Pittsburgh. As the Jets gear up to face the Dolphins, a seemingly must win game with San Francisco and Houston lurking afterwards, there are numerous issues to be addressed with this team. Which New York Jets will show up in Miami and in the coming weeks? Will it be the team that crushed Buffalo in the season opener led by an offensive explosion? Or will it be the team that faced the same troubles that haunted it last season – offensive woes and an inability to get the defense off the field on third down?
The Jets have come under heavy scrutiny following the loss to Pittsburgh. Mark Sanchez went from the league’s most improved Quarterback in week 1, to the scapegoat of the New York media that infatuates the Daily News more than Justin Bieber does to a teenaged girl. The mainstream media in this city has the most extreme love/hate relationship with the Jets’ fourth year quarterback. Simply put, they love to hate him.
What about the running game? What happened to that vaunted ground and pound that was preached all offseason? Tim Tebow was supposed to be a key part of Shonn Greene’s supporting cast, but so far, he has been completely irrelevant to this offense. Speaking of Greene, will he ever reveal himself to be the bell cow the Jets think he can be, or is it time to start spreading his carries out amongst New York’s stable of less than average running backs?
In terms of the defense, can the Jets prove that they can stop an elusive running back? While the run defense was fantastic last week in Pittsburgh, the Steelers’ didn’t exactly put Barry Sanders on the field. The Jets were gashed by CJ Spiller for 169 yards on opening day, continuing the trend that began last season of not being able to match up with speedy backs. Can they stop Reggie Bush, coming off of a career performance, the shifty Lamar Miller, and the rest of the Dolphins’ rushing attack this week?
Find out all of this, and much more, in this week’s New York Jets Fact Or False.
1.) Shonn Greene will average at least 4.0 YPC. False. Greene’s career high, in terms of yards per carry, against Miami came last year in the forgettable season finale, when he accumulated 55 yards on 14 carries, for a 3.9 YPC average. Now, Greene is coming off of two very sub par performances against Buffalo and Pittsburgh where he averaged 3.5 and 2.1 YPC, respectively.
Miami, on the other hand, has allowed just 3.0 YPC to Arian Foster in week 1, along with a ridiculous 2.0 YPC to Darren McFadden at home last week. To put it nicely, Miami has shut down two backs that are quite a bit more accomplished than Greene. Expect the Jets to rely on Greene for about 12-15 carries, while finally spreading the carries out amongst their other three runners in Bilal Powell, Joe McKnight, and Tim Tebow. With how Greene has played, combined with how excellent Miami’s run defense has been, there should be no reason for the Jets to believe that Greene can carry the entire rushing load on Sunday. Powell, McKnight, and Tebow have all been fair in the select time they’ve been given, so it is time to see what they can do with an expanded workload. Tony Sparano needs to get the ball to Powell and McKnight in space, via screens, sweeps, or misdirections. He should not be afraid to swing for the fences with these two on Sunday.
As for Tebow, it is time New York stop being so careful with their prolific backup quarterback. It seems as though the fear amongst the coaching staff is that if Tebow plays well in expanded minutes, they will face public pressure to insert him as the starter over Mark Sanchez, in the event that number 6 begins to truly struggle. However, if they use Tebow primarily as a runner, which they absolutely should be doing, he can be just another tool to assist the run game and take some pressure off of Greene.
However the game plan unfolds, do not expect Greene to surpass the 4.0 YPC mark. It simply is not going to happen.
Mark Sanchez will throw for 225+ yards and 2 TDs. Fact. Defensively, the Dolphins are built very much like the Buffalo Bills. They have a very above average front seven, with an extremely suspect secondary, even more so due to the recent departure of CB Vontae Davis. While the Jets running game may struggle to get going early, expect Sparano to allow Sanchez to sling the ball deep. Santonio Holmes, Stephen Hill, and Jeremy Kerley all have the ability to stretch the field, and when facing a secondary like Miami’s, there should certainly be free reign to do so.
The key will be for Holmes and Hill to prove they can respond to press coverage. Dolphins CB Sean Smith is a very physical player, and you can rest assured he took note of how Holmes and Hill struggled with the physicality of the Pittsburgh secondary last week. If Sparano can dial up some creative routes, and the Jets can prove to play well against this type of coverage, expect Sanchez to have a field day against this secondary.
3.) Reggie Bush will run for 100+ yards. False. While the Jets certainly have had their struggles with speed backs over the past season and two games (as previously noted), Bush will likely be their primary focus this week. In his sole contest against New York last year, the former Heisman Trophy winner picked up 71 yards on just 10 carries, for an eye-popping 7.1 YPC average. However, that was a Miami team that had a pro bowl receiver in Brandon Marshall, and a veteran quarterback in Matt Moore.
This time around, Miami brings out an offense led by a rookie at quarterback whose primary receiving option is Brian Hartline. Expect New York to key Bush early and often, and do everything they can to prevent him from getting the ball in space. Bart Scott looked quicker than he has in years last week in Pittsburgh, and although the Steelers’ backs certainly do not posses the speed of Bush, it is undoubtedly a sign of encouragement. Do not be surprised to see Rex Ryan send LaRon Landry on some Safety blitzes early in the game to introduce Bush to his hard hitting style, with the hope of rattling the 7th year pro and setting the tone from the beginning.
4.) Cameron Wake will have at least one sack. False. While Wake has established himself as one of the most ferocious pass rushers in the NFL over the past three years, he has registered just 2 sacks against the Jets in 6 contests. What’s even more surprising is the fact that he did not get to Sanchez at all over two games last year. This is likely a result of the Jets giving the recently (and thankfully) departed Wayne Hunter an abundance of help on Wake last year, something they will likely do again with Austin Howard this Sunday. While Howard is certainly an improvement over Hunter, Wake is Miami’s best defensive player and will be accounted for at all times. Sacks could still come from Miami, but Wake will likely be neutralized due to the high amount of attention the Jets will give him.
5.) The Jets will register multiple sacks. Fact. Dolphins Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been sacked 4 times over the course of his first two NFL games, including three in the opener in Houston. While the Jets’ pass rush isn’t nearly as good as the Texans’, Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine will be sure to draw up some exotic blitzes to get in position to bring the rookie to the ground. New York sacked Ben Roethlisberger 3 times last week in Pittsburgh, but realistically had opportunities to bring him down at least thrice more. Tannehill is not nearly as difficult to bring down as Big Ben, so expect the Jets to finish this week. Tannehill should have some serious grass stains on his back come Sunday afternoon.
6.) Ryan Tannehill will throw 2 interceptions. Fact. Tannehill looked promising in last week’s win against Oakland, however in his opening day start against Houston, the Texas A&M product struggled mightily, throwing 3 interceptions to start his NFL career. This was largely due to Houston Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips getting extremely creative in his coverages and blitz packages, making Tannehill extremely uncomfortable and forcing him into making bad decisions. Like Phillips, Ryan and Pettine will look to confuse the rookie from the start. Expect the Jets to do a good job of disguising coverages and sending pressure at Tannehill. If they can rattle his cage early, it would not come as a surprise to see the young QB become overwhelmed, and turn the ball over more than once.
Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, this guy makes his return this week.