On Sunday night the New York Jets kickoff their 2011 season with a match-up against the Dallas Cowboys at MetLife Stadium (8:20 EST). The Jets enter the game with grand expectations while the Cowboys are looking to bounce back coming off of a disappointing 2010 campaign. Lets take a look at some of the keys to the game from the Jets perspective.
1) Contain Ware- Demarcus Ware is arguably one of the best pass rushers in the NFL and the Jets must find ways to contain the explosive linebacker. Whether that means utilizing the short passing game, or moving coverage to Ware’s side, Gang Green cannot allow Demarcus to disrupt the passing game.
2) Establish the passing game- The Cowboys enter the game with a very banged up secondary and the Jets must take advantage of the opportunity to make plays in the passing game. Ideally the Jets offensive strategy should be to come out passing in order to get Sanchez comfortable and his receivers, notably Plaxico Burress, involved in the game plan early on. Once the passing game is established Gang Green can then implement their ground and pound ways.
3) Red zone efficiency- It is no secret that the Jets offense struggled in the red zone last year and that trend must change in 2011. Mark Sanchez and the Jets offense must take advantage of red zone possessions, putting up touchdowns instead of settling for field goals.
1) Dominate the offensive line- The Cowboys enter the game with an inexperienced, banged up offensive line which should be music to the ears of Rex Ryan and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. The Jets defensive line led by Sione Pouha, Mike Devito, and Muhammad Wilkerson must dominate the battles in the trenches and stifle the running game which will allow the linebackers to get pressure on quarterback Tony Romo.
2) Contain Witten- There is a very good chance that Tony Romo will go to the short passing game to help offset the Jets pass rush. Gang Green must find ways to contain tight end Jason Witten as he could be Romo’s target early and often. I would not be surprised to see the Jets try to put a safety on Witten, possibly Eric Smith or Brodney Pool.
3) Get off the field on 3rd down- The Jets defense must get off the field on third down, especially when they force the offense into third and long situations. The last thing you want to see is breakdowns in coverage or communication issues that keep drives alive and the Cowboys in the game.
While many are predicting a close game, I think the Jets should win this one going away. The Cowboys are entering the game with an inexperienced offensive line and a banged up secondary. That is not a good combination for any NFL team. I expect the Jets to jump out to a early lead, which will fuel a fired up home crowd as well as their defense. 27-17 Jets