At this point in the season, Todd Bowles is preaching the “one game at a time” mentality for his New York Jets. Although the Jets still sit on the outside looking in for a wild card spot, they are very much alive. The Jets stroll into Metlife Sunday as the visitors and have not beaten a the Giants since 1993. In recent history, when Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning have their backs against the walls, they play their best football. Let’s hope that’s not the case this week, and dive into the main story lines….
The Secondary vs. Beckham Jr.Prior to the start of the season this matchup highlighted the list of the top CB vs. WR battles. As it turns out, Revis is still in the league’s concussion protocol and looks to be a long shot to play. The Jets will most likely be without Revis and surging cornerback Marcus Williams Sunday facing arguably one of the leagues best receiving threats in Odell Beckham Jr. In order for the Jets to take down Big Blue Sunday, Beckham must be limited. The Giants aren’t full of play making threats and limiting ODB would remove a huge part of that offense. Look for the Jets to double ODB and get physical with him at the line of scrimmage. Getting hands on the talented WR at the line of scrimmage can throw off the timing of Eli and present the Jets with chances for some turnovers. This could be the week we see Dee Milliner finally step into a bigger role. In addition, I look for the Jets to use a fair amount of “Big Nickel” packages, with safeties Pryor, Gilchrist, and Rontez Miles on the field all at the same time to aid in the injuries at CB.
Shane Vereen vs. Jets Linebackers
How many times over the years did we see Shane Vereen running a wheel route down the sideline while beating Harris and Davis? Quite a bit. The Jets lack speed at the inside linebacker position. It’s no secret. However, the Giants have struggled to find the proper use for Vereen that Belichick once did, but he’s still very valuable in beating a blitz. Gang Green will need to be rushing the passer especially with Big Blue’s banged up offensive line, but they need to account for Vereen when doing so. Erin Henderson could play a large role in this match up. He received an uptick in snaps last week which hopefully foreshadowed things to come. I also fully expect Calvin Pryor to have an impact at containing him. When Vereen runs his “option routes” at the middle linebackers, I expect Pryor to deliver some big hits to set the tone and to ensure he won’t be coming out of the backfield too often.
Chris Ivory vs. Who?Many people have labeled this game as a shootout. This may be true, but I think it’d be wise for Todd Bowles and company to do everything in their power to prevent that. The Jets can’t forget about workhorse Chris Ivory. Ivory has been over 85 yards two out of the last three weeks, and seems to be a bit healthier than he was in the midseason range of games. Giants run stopping superstar Jonathan Hankins is out for the season and the rest of the front 7 are quite unimpressive. Gang Green needs to attack this defensive line with his bulldozing style of running and keep Eli Manning off of the field as much as possible, especially with the injuries now in the secondary, keeping Manning and Beckham sidelined remains extremely important.
Jets Special Teams On The Rise
A few weeks ago I tore apart the Jets special teams unit, rightfully so. Now, they have silenced me with solid play all across the board. Ryan Quiqley has been averaging a 50+ yard punt a game and has had at least one punt downed inside the 20 in every game he’s played this season (10 games). Jeremy Kerley had a brilliant 58 yard punt return last week. Randy Bullock has been a touchback machine. Most of all, there have been a limited amount of mistakes. In a game Sunday that will most likely come down to a final possession, special teams will play a prominent role. The Jets unit needs to continue to be mistake free and make at least one impact play to win this game. As it just so happens, Josh Brown has had the most kicks returned in the league this year (35). This could be the perfect opportunity for Antonio Cromartie to provide a spark through the kick return game. Cromartie still has a nice burst returning kicks as we saw just two weeks ago when he returned a kick 39 yards against Houston.
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