On Thursday night the New York Jets (5-4) take on the Denver Broncos (4-5) at Sports Authority Field at Mile High (8:20 EST). The Jets are trying to bounce back from a demoralizing loss to the Patriots while the Broncos led by quarterback Tim Tebow are winners of two in a row. Lets take a look at some of the keys to the game from the Jets perspective.
Clean up protection issues- Against the Patriots the New York Jets offensive line struggled to not only run block, but pass protect as well. In order for Gang Green to have success on Thursday night the offensive line must clean up their mistakes and dominate the line of scrimmage. In addition the backs must do a better job picking up the blitz. LaDainian Tomlinson has been ruled out for this game which will be huge blow to pass protection as he is the most consistent performer in terms of blitz pick up. Keep an eye on right tackle Wayne Hunter and fullback John Conner as they both have had consistency issues this year. Outside linebacker Von Miller leads the Broncos with 8 sacks and 2 forced fumbles.
Play of Mark Sanchez- Quarterback Mark Sanchez must rise to the occasion and regain control of the offense. Sanchez must remain composed in the pocket and take what the defense gives him. Mark cannot continue to make bad reads, force throws, and miss open receivers. Note: Wide receiver Jeremy Kerley has been ruled out for this game.
Ground and pound- The Jets must get back to their physical style of play on offense. Gang Green must establish their running game in order to wear down a Broncos defense that is going to try and force Mark Sanchez to beat them. If the Jets are able to consistently run the ball, Sanchez can then spread the field with the play action pass.
Get physical- It is no secret that the Denver Broncos are going to try to run the ball down the Jets’ throats. Gang Green’s defense must come out committed to play physical football which means shedding blocks and getting to the ball carrier. The Jets defenders must be sure to wrap up the ball carrier and not allow big plays after contact. Note: Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno has been placed on IR and Willis McGahee is questionable for the game. Lance Ball will carry the workload if McGahee is unable to play.
Hit Tebow- Denver quarterback Tim Tebow loves to run the ball out of the option style offense. Gang Green must find ways to contain Tebow and limit his ability to spread out their defense and create new running lanes. The best way to slow down Tebow is to make plays behind the line of scrimmage and to get hits on the young signal caller.
Remain alert in the secondary- Even though the Broncos offense is built primarily around the running game the Jets secondary must remain aware of the play action pass and the deep passing game. Tebow and company may try to lull the Jets to sleep with the run, to then try to hit some big plays down the field on the pass.
The biggest concern I have in this game is the Jets ability to bounce back from an emotional loss to the Patriots. If Gang Green comes out flat and lackadaisical they will get run off the field by the Broncos. Denver is playing inspired football and the Jets must match the Broncos intensity, especially early on in the game.
I think the Jets defense will find ways to slow down Tim Tebow and the option style offense. It will not be pretty but David Harris, Bart Scott, Sione Pouha and the boys will get it done. On offense I think the Jets will scale back their playbook and make this a smash mouth style of game. I would not be surprised to see Shonn Greene have a huge game. Jets 17-6