TOJ Roundtable – Jets vs. Steelers, Week 5 Edition

The TOJ Roundtable gives their predictions for Jets vs. Steelers in week 5 of the 2016 NFL season…

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What are your predictions for the New York Jets vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers in week 5?

Joe Caporoso – I’ll probably be picking the Jets to lose for the second week in a row in this week’s 12 Pack so I will again use this space to try argue why the Jets may have a chance Sunday.

On paper this is a potentially ugly match-up for the Jets. Pittsburgh is the best vertical passing team in the NFL, where the Jets have been among the worst in the league at defending exactly that. Despite dumping a truckload of cash in their secondary last year, they have no answer for Antonio Brown and the multitude of options the Steelers have offensively. However, Pittsburgh can be streaky and will not replicate the thumping they put on Kansas City last week. They have offensive line issues and unlike Seattle, do not have a quick release passing game that fully negates the Jets defensive line.

On the other side of the ball, their defense can be opportunistic but is far from a dominant unit. The Jets desperately need Ryan Fitzpatrick to be competent because there will be chances against this secondary. If they can balance the attack with their running game, pull out a play on special teams and prevent the big play, this should be a game in the fourth quarter.

David Aitken – There is no confidence in the Jets right now and the 3-1 Steelers are coming off probably the most dominant win of the week, so this is probably going to be a lot closer of a game than people think because that’s just how football works.

There is obvious reason for fear, but this week it is more about what Pittsburgh’s passing attack could do to this awful Jets pass defense rather than the sad quarterbacking of Ryan Fitzpatrick. Pittsburgh’s defense is hardly vintage LeBeau era and I expect the Jets will be able to put up points more easily than we’ve seen the first quarter of the year. With that said if Fitzpatrick is poor from the start in this game, there is absolutely no excuse to not pull him, as the Jets should be able to throw on the Steelers.

The problem of course is that the Jets are objectively one of the worst pass defenses in the league right now, and have a specific issue giving up chunk plays. The Steelers are coming off a big play creating clinic Sunday night and there should be little reason to think the Steelers will have any trouble going off again. To an extent the Jets need the Steelers to have an off day in order to have a shot in this game. That sounds unlikely given the Steelers are now at full strength with Bell back, are playing at home, and already had a wake-up call of sorts getting blown out by Philadelphia.

I’m more confident in this one than the trip to Arizona that follows, but still overall not too optimistic. I don’t think it’ll get out of hand, but I think Pittsburgh will start fast and will consistently be one step ahead. 31-24 Pitt.

Kevin Zielaznicki – Immediately after another brutal performance by Ryan Fitzpatrick, Twitter was going wild with fans and analysts calling for head coach Todd Bowles to bench his starting quarterback for backup Geno Smith.  There is little evidence based on film that Fitz will be able to turn his play around and be the guy the Jets need him to be this year. So will this Sunday be the day that Bowles makes a change? Unlikely. Unless Fitz has another 5+ turnover game, I doubt Bowles will do anything.

New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and the rest of the Jets offense will have to play lights out this Sunday because we all know that the Pittsburgh Steelers high powered offense will be putting plenty of points on the board. Fitz will need to play turnover free and the Jets must establish the running game early to keep Big Ben off the field.  Limiting play-makers Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell will be a tough task for the Jets defense and based on how the secondary has performed thus far, I think both of them are going to hurt us in the passing game. I think the Jets continue their slump and fall to the Steelers 34-14. Now at 1-4, does Todd Bowles make a change at the quarterback position in favor of Geno Smith? How the Jets handle this week will show a lot about the coaching staff.

Edward Gorelik – I don’t believe the Steelers will put up on us what they did on the Chiefs. Not that they can’t, they’ll just have less motivation to. The Steelers were coming off an embarrassing loss to the Eagles so they took it out on the Chiefs. We’ll just get the leftovers of that aggression, so I expect a much more manageable loss.

As usual, the Jets will do everything they can to hide Ryan Fitzpatrick. It might not be as hard against the Steelers as it has against others. They’re currently ranked 17th in pass defense DVOA and most of that is coming off of yardage to depth receivers and running backs. The Jets have plenty of depth receivers and pass catching running backs. However, I don’t have any confidence in Ryan Fitzpatrick at all. Unless our schematic execution is perfect, I expect him to be disappointing. If our offense is clicking, I don’t expect him to be the catalyst either.

The same for the defense. I expect disappointment. Brown’s about to run Hulkamania on us, Le’Veon Bell is gonna be Macho Man Randy Savage and the Jets defense will be the floor of the ring where they will battle for who scores more points on us. That’s an optimistic prediction, by the way. There’s always the chance they put on a Thanos and Galactus level domination.

Nikki Charlesworth – Unfortunately, I can’t see that the Pittsburgh game is going to be much more positive for the Jets than the last two weeks. Especially playing at Heinz Field. One of the Jets biggest problems this year has been the secondary, particularly defending the deep ball. The Steelers have one of the most productive passing offensives in the league and I can see Antonio Brown running free. The DL will need to put in a stellar performance to try and put as much pressure on Big Ben as they can. 

The other big question is Ryan Fitzpatrick. We said this last week, but we simply cannot afford a repeat of the multi-interception games of the last two weeks. Unfortunately, there are simply no guarantees regarding this as he is so hit and miss, it’s impossible to predict which Fitz will appear. This could be the game we see Geno, but Todd Bowles’ commitment to Fitzpatrick so far, suggests it was have to be a pretty dire performance again, before he will even consider it. If number 7 takes the field, we’ll know it’s gone wrong yet again. This is the third of a run of three really tough games – the Steelers haven’t had it all plain sailing, but it seems like their strengths complement our weaknesses. If the Jets are to win, then everyone is going to have to step it up and really turn around what has been two poor performances.

Photo Credit: NewYorkJets.com

Author: Joe Caporoso

Joe Caporoso is the Owner and EIC of Turn On The Jets. His writing has been featured in the New York Times, Huffington Post, MMQB and AdWeek. Caporoso played football his entire life, including four years at Muhlenberg as a wide receiver, where he was arguably the slowest receiver to ever start in school history. He is the EVP of Content at Whistle Sports