By Tom Kiss
In 2006 the New York Jets headed into the bye week following a devastating loss to the Cleveland Browns. Following the bye, the Jets defense played very well, giving up only 12.75 points per game. The Jets will hope for a similar turnaround this season, though no playoff berth is possible at this point.
This week, the Jets host the 7-2 Steelers, led by big Ben Roethlisberger and company. This will be one of many more challenging games the rest of the way for the Jets. Sorry Jet fans, but the easy part of the schedule is over now, and the Jets are 1-8.
When the Jets have the ball:
How about a touchdown for Thomas Jones? 160 rushing attempts without a score is not acceptable. The running game has been about as problematic as it was last year, and if it’s not going to get better against this Steelers defense. Expect to see more of Thomas Jones and Leon Washington rushing for 2 or 3 yards, with a 5 or 6 yard burst here or there. There is, however, one variable that must be accounted for. With Curtis Martin being honored at half time, the Jet offensive line could look to step up the performance in his honor. The real question is, can they even be effective then?
Kellen Clemens has played ok so far and expect to see continued progress from him this week. Clemens will probably make a mistake or two under duress from James Harrison and the rest of the Steeler D, but he should continue to look more and more mature on the field, and will probably catch the Steelers sleeping deep once or twice. Coles will be back this week and that should be a big help for Clemens.
When the Steelers have the ball:
Willie Parker has been running the ball very well thus far, 873 yards on 212 carries (4.1 yard average). He will present quite a challenge to the Jets defense, a defense that has given up an average of 152 yards per game on the ground. Parker should have himself a pretty good day if the defense doesn’t step up their play from here on out.
Big Ben has been fantastic this year, willing his team to victory last week against Cleveland. With 22 touchdown passes against 7 picks and a QB Rating of 110.2, Roethlisberger would be an MVP candidate if not for Tom Brady. The Jets will try and blitz Roethlisberger while at the same time trying to contain him from running for first downs. If the Jets can be successful in that area, they may just have a chance this week.
Match-up of the game: Kellen Clemens vs. Troy Polamalu
The Steeler safety will look to make some plays against the young and inexperienced quarterback. Clemens will try and keep the ball away from Polamalu and make a play over the top of him when he catches him off guard.
NYJ 13 – PIT 24