By Tyson Rauch
The New York Jets head down to Baltimore tonight (8pm, ESPN) to take on the Ravens in what is being built up as Rex Ryan’s homecoming game. Here are some keys to the game from the Jets perspective:
1) Offensive line play- Nick Mangold is expected to return to the starting lineup tonight, but Gang Green will still be without Damien Woody and Alan Faneca. It is essential for the offensive line to play as a cohesive unit as the Raven defense is both aggressive and very physical. If the offensive line is unable to win the line of scrimmage battles, it will not matter who the quarterback is as they will be running for their life.
2) The play of Mark Sanchez– Assuming the offensive line will be able to hold up their end of the bargain, the spotlight then falls on to rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez. Sanchez is starting the game and reportedly can win the starting job with a solid performance against the Ravens. Sanchez must be able to quickly go through his reads and get rid of the ball. The Ravens are going to bring a tremendous amount of pressure and the young signal caller must be able to keep his composure in the pocket and make some plays.
3) Wide receiver play- Last week the Jets wide receivers made some plays against a poor St. Louis Rams defense with David Clowney shining the most. This week the wide receiver group will need to run precise routes in addition to understanding when to cut their routes short to help a quarterback that is under pressure.
4) The run defense- As the game wore on last week the Jets defense began to make mental mistakes resulting in huge plays and points being put on the board. The Jets will need to make adjustments to make sure that the second and third string teams clearly understand their assignments.
Overall it will be very interesting to see how Gang Green performs against one of the better teams in the AFC. A full recap will be provided on Tuesday evaluating the team’s performance.