Sunday, the New York Jets (1-2) will square off with the Detroit Lions (2-1). The game will be played at MetLife stadium and kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. The game can be viewed on FOX.
You hate to say any game in September is a must-win, but if the Jets fall to 1-3 with their next three games against San Diego, Denver, and New England (on a short week, nonetheless), the season could spiral out of control quickly. A week four win is crucial.
Last Monday the Jets lost at home to the Bears 27-19. The Jets dominated nearly every statistical category but again shot themselves in the foot with turnovers that led directly to points. Geno Smith opened the game with a pick-6 and threw another interception in the end zone that took away at least three points for the Jets. Jalen Saunders fumbled a punt in Jets territory that also led to a Bears touchdown. The Jets really are playing good enough to win but cannot afford the mental lapses.
The pressure is on Geno Smith. It is my opinion that Smith is improving, as evidenced by the higher completion percentage, but the turnovers have to slow down. Not all interceptions are equal but his two last week were bad. While many may be calling for Michael Vick, it is important to remember that: 1) Vick has struggled with turnover problems in his past, and 2) Vick playing stunts the growth of a young quarterback. Everyone knew going into this Smith was going to need time to develop. The growth is there. Now the Jets need consistency. Give it time.
Smith will be helped out a ton if Eric Decker (hamstring) plays. Decker only played 12 snaps Monday. When Decker is on the field, Smith has a completion percentage of 73.5 percent. When he’s not? It drops to 27.3 percent, per ESPN Stats Inc. Decker said this week, “I’m planning on getting out there. I can’t promise anything but obviously I’m leaning on the positive side that I’m definitely going to be out there.”
The defense will likely be without Dee Milliner again. Milliner is battling an ankle and quad injury, which means another week of Antonio Allen and Darrin Walls as your starting cornerbacks. I’ve been impressed with both given the circumstances. Allen has been targeted more than any other corner in the league but hasn’t given up a touchdown and fights through wide receiver screens very well.
The matchup against the Lions offense will be another tough one. One week after going against arguably the best wide receiver duo in the league, the Jets are faced with stopping Calvin Johnson, one of the best wide receivers in the history of the league. Whoever gets matched up across from Johnson will get plenty of safety help. The Jets have even used Quinton Coples to go out and jam wide receivers at the line.
The Lions offense has struggled to run the ball and that surely will continue. However, Reggie Bush might be a bigger receiving threat than running threat and the Jets will have to keep an eye on him out of the backfield at all times.
To limit a top passing attack, the Jets defensive line will have to pressure Matthew Stafford and force mistakes. The Lions are a mess at right tackle, already down a starter and backup tackle LaAdrian Waddle is battling a calf injury and may not play. Whoever is lining up on that side could potentially have a field day.
The Jets offense is going to get a taste of their own medicine when they take the field against one of the best front seven’s in all of football. Defensive tackle’s Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley anchor the 4-3 defense, making it nearly impossible to run and can provide pressure. Guard Brian Winters really struggled Monday and will have an even tougher time bouncing back.
If the Jets can give Smith time he could find some holes against a secondary not stacked in talent. Darius Slay, Rashean Mathis, and Glover Quin anchor the back end. Also, linebacker Stephen Tulloch, who was second in the team in tackles, will be out for the year after an ACL injury last week.
The storylines remain the same for the Jets. Can they limit the turnovers? Can they get to the quarterback and force some turnovers of their own? How will the secondary hold up? The biggest key for the Jets will be to score touchdowns instead of field goals, something they had a dreadful time doing against the Bears.
We’ll see if anything has changed.