First a few updates:
1. The only Jets who didn’t practice today were Lito Sheppard and Donald Strickland. Ryan didn’t sound too optimistic about either of them playing, especially Strickland. It definitely isn’t a good week to be without your #2 and #3 corners but Dwight Lowery and Drew Coleman have showed they are capable replacements off the bench.
2. Make sure you check out episode IV of Turn On the Jets TV tomorrow, Corbett (my editor) and myself will in the studio (our apartment) filming a recap on week 3 and a prediction for Jets/Saints, along with a few other things for your entertainment.
3. Congratulations to Mark Sanchez for winning the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month award. It is the first time a Jets player has ever won that award. Sanchez has 606 yards passing with 4 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.
4. It will be good to see the Jets back in their normal green and white jerseys this week.
5. Just a reminder that after this game, the Jets get outside linebacker Calvin Pace back (80 tackles, 7 sacks, 5 forced fumbles in 2008).
6. The Jets are 6.5 point underdogs this week…no respect.
Jets vs. Saints: Game Breakdown
Jets Offensive Game Plan: It has been tough sledding for the Jets running game so far this season but this is the game they need to break out of their funk. On the road, in the deafening Superdome, against the league’s best offense you need to establish a strong running game to keep Drew Brees and co. off the field and not put too much pressure on your rookie quarterback. Thomas Jones and Leon Washington need their combined 40 touches and they need to make the most out of them. Leon is way overdue to rip off a big play on offense and Jones needs to get back above 4 yards a carry to start moving the chains again. If Jones starts off slow, don’t be surprised to see rookie Shonn Greene get a few carries. The better the Jets run the football, the better Mark Sanchez will play and the better chance the Jets will have to win this game.
When the Jets do need to pass, Sanchez must do a better job of protecting the football than he did last week. The Jets offense can’t let New Orleans get a short field because of a turnover or give them any points to make the defense’s task harder than it already is. Outside of his touchdown grab against New England, Dustin Keller has been very quiet the past two weeks and the Jets need to get him involved in their passing attack. Jerricho Cotchery needs to keep it going as the go to receiver, and Chansi Stuckey needs to bounce back after only having 11 yards receiving last week. Let’s see if this is the game that David Clowney can get a ball thrown his way, since he is coming off a couple of strong weeks in practice as a response to his deactivation against the Titans. I would like to see the Jets run another play out of their “Seminole” package beyond Leon Washington just faking the reverse to Brad Smith and keeping it. They tried a throwback to Sanchez last week but it got called back on a holding penalty.
Jets Defensive Game Plan: The Jets banged up secondary will have a difficult task against Drew Brees and co. this week. Darrelle Revis will likely be locked up Marques Colston and should be able to handle him. However, that will leave speedster Devery Henderson on Dwight Lowery, who has struggled with faster receivers in the past and been beaten deep on occasion. Don’t be surprised if the Jets give Lowery some help over the top. Expect to see Eric Smith either shadowing Jeremy Shockey or Reggie Bush out of the backfield. It will be interesting to see how often the Saints go to their running game with Pierre Thomas or Bush against the Jets front seven. I have confidence in the Jets ability to contain the run but they must continue to be aggressive their pass rush to help out their secondary this week.
New Orleans won’t drop as many passes as the Titans did and they have more players on the outside who can make you play for a blown coverage. This game is a golden opportunity for the Jets defense to make a statement that they are the league’s best. If they can go into New Orleans and keep Drew Brees in check, how are you going to say another unit has been better than them through four weeks?
Hopefully, the Jets can jump out to an early lead which will force the Saints to rely even more on the passing game than they already do, allowing the Jets to get some hits on Brees and force him into a few turnovers. This is Vernon Gholston’s last game as a starter, so far he only has 6 tackles and 1 TFL. There isn’t a better time for him to get his first NFL sack than this week.
Special Teams Breakdown: Leon Washington almost broke a few against New England, let’s see if can rip off a huge kick return against the Saints suspect coverage unit on the fast track at the Superdome. Reggie Bush is always dangerous on punt returns, but guys like Wallace Wright, Jason Trusnik, and Eric Smith have been excellent in coverage this season.
The Jets Will Win If…They establish a strong running game and get Thomas and Leon their combined 40 touches. Mark Sanchez doesn’t have any turnovers and hits a few big plays down the field to keep the Saints defense honest. The Jets defense gets to Drew Brees early and often, forcing him into a few bad decisions. Darrelle Revis continues to prove why he is the best corner in football, by locking down Marques Colston.
The Jets Will Lose If…Mark Sanchez plays like a rookie and struggles with the crowd noise, along with the Saints opportunistic defense. Dwight Lowery gets torched by Devery Henderson for a big play. Reggie Bush rips off a long run after a catch out of the backfield to get some revenge on Bart Scott. Drew Brees isn’t pressured in the pocket and carves up the Jets banged up secondary.
A Memorable Moment in Jets/Saints History