On Sunday the New York Jets (3-3) take on the San Diego Chargers (4-1) at MetLife Stadium (1pm EST). The Jets are coming off of a win against the Miami Dolphins while San Diego comes east following a bye week. Lets take a look at some of the keys to the game from the Jets perspective.
Avoid slow start- The New York Jets offense must find a way to get in sync early on and avoid repeated 3 and outs. In the last two games the Jets started off with 4 three and out series and that trend cannot continue on Sunday if Gang Green wants to have any chance to win. I would not be surprised to see the Jets use some more of the hurry up offense (actually I highly recommend that), quick slant passes to Holmes and Kerley, or screen passes to LaDainian Tomlinson to get Mark Sanchez comfortable in the passing game.
Spread the field- In order to keep the San Diego defense on their toes the Jets have to find ways to spread the field. Whether that means opening up the passing game in 3 or 4 receiver formations or featuring post patterns for Plaxico Burress, something has to be done to prevent the Chargers defense from stacking the box and jumping routes. If the Jets are able to effectively spread the field, the power running game can then be introduced.
Red zone efficiency- The New York Jets offense cannot settle for field goals in the red zone. The Chargers have the ability to put up points in bunches, therefore a premium should be put on every trip inside the 20. One play that the Jets should try more is the fade pass to Plaxico Burress as he is a huge physical receiver that should win every jump ball.
Secondary play- The San Diego passing game is very explosive (averaging 293 yards a game) which will put a lot of pressure on the Jets secondary in terms of coverage and tackling. The Jets defensive backs must be very physical at the line of scrimmage and prevent the Chargers receivers from getting clean breaks into open space. A major concern for the Jets secondary will be handling the size of the San Diego receivers as both Vincent Jackson and Malcolm Floyd are listed at 6’5. If Gang Green’s defensive backs play soft in coverage they will get mauled by these receivers. Note: Keep an eye on defensive back Antonio Cromartie who will be playing against his former team. Cromartie is a very emotional player and there is a chance he could come out very aggressive which may result in big plays for either team.
The Gates factor- As of now tight end Antonio Gate’s status for Sunday is unknown. If the Pro-Bowl tight end does play on Sunday the Jets defense is going to have their hands full as he is one of the best in the NFL. Gang Green must find ways to contain Gates and will probably look to a safety/linebacker combination in order to do so.
Contain the edge- The New York Jets defense has struggled against the run and a large part of that has to do with containing the edge. Gang Green’s front seven, mainly the linebackers, must do a better job of shedding blocks and getting to the ball carrier. The Jets cannot afford to give up big plays in the running game as they will then be left exposed to a very aggressive passing attack.
This is going to be a very interesting game for the Jets as the Chargers are a very talented team on both sides of the ball. The Jets will be inspired by LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Cromartie as they face their old squad, while the Chargers will more than likely be fueled by Rex Ryan’s comments during the week.
At the end of the day the game is going to come down to the performance of Mark Sanchez and the Jets offense. If Gang Green’s offense cannot consistently move the chains the Jets are going to be in for a long afternoon. Philip Rivers is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL and will have no problem taking advantage of a Jets defense that is on the field for an extended period of time.
In all honestly it is hard for me to pick the Jets in this game as their offensive struggles are a huge concern. In addition I have some issues with the defensive match-ups against the Charger passing game as well. I hope I am wrong. Chargers 28-20