The second quarter of the season is beginning for the New York Jets (3-1) when they hit the field to face a tough Washington Redskins team (2-3). The game will begin at 1 p.m. and will be broadcasted locally on CBS.
The Redskins are largely a running joke in the football atmosphere. Their owner is clueless, their team name is under fire, their quarterback situation is a mess and their coach is best known for being the brother of John Gruden. This had all the makings of a disastrous year in Washington.
Then the season started, and suddenly things aren’t looking that bad. yes, the football team in Washington has a losing record, but they’ve played tough in all their losses and there are some young, inexperienced players who look good.
This will be no cake walk. Let’s look at the matchup:
The most vital position in all of sports is quarterback. The football team in Washington looked like they had the future set with Robert Griffin III just two years ago. RGIII, the second overall pick in the 2012 draft, had a monstrous rookie season but tore his ACL in a wild card game against Seattle.
Between the injury, shaky confidence and lack of respect in the locker room, RGIII has never been the same. He lost his job to Kirk Cousins, who was also taken in the fourth round of that 2012 draft by Washington.
Head coach Jay Gruden’s system asks for his quarterback to stay in the pocket, deliver timely passes and hit the occasional deep ball. Washington really just needs a game manager, and Cousins has been okay at doing so. He’s completed 68.1 percent of his passes for 1,224 yards with five touchdowns and six interceptions. He has a respectable QBR of 57.6.
Keeping Cousins upright is going to be a daunting task. The unit is having a very good year, but will be without their starting center and left tackle. That will not only make things tough to keep Cousins upright, but the Jets, already tough against the run, should be able to limit running backs Alfred Morris and Matt Jones. Morris and Jones look like they have the potential to become the best 1-2 running back tandem in the league.
Washington has the ninth best defense in the NFL. It’s just an overall solid unit, with some players like DeAngelo Hall, Dashon Goldson and Chris Culliver in the secondary. The unit has just two interceptions on the year, but they also rarely give up the big play. That was put on full display last week when they limited Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones to just five catches for 67 yards.
Washington is pretty solid against the run, giving up about 97 yards per game. They’ve also forced seven fumbles this year, recovering four. Again, this isn’t a great defense but they will certainly make the Jets work.
Bye week blues
If it feels like the Jets haven’t won in years off the bye week, it’s because you’re right — the last time the Jets won after a week off was in 2011 against the Bills. Plaxico Burress led the team with 79 yards receiving in that game.
2008 was the last time the Jets won off a bye before that.
This will be a nice test for Bowles. Under Rex Ryan, it was almost expected the Jets were going to be sloppy and undisciplined the week after the bye.Todd Bowles has hammered home the point that the Jets have a lot to improve on, but will it be put into action?
No fly zone
The Jets secondary will be put to the test against some playmakers in Washington’s offense. Speedy wideout DeSean Jackson looks like he’s going to be good to go after missing the past few weeks with a hamstring injury. Jackson is the one guy the Jets have to be aware of at all times, because if not, he’ll run right by you.
The Jets caught a nice break with talented tight end Jordan Reed out for the game (concussion). Still, New York will have to be aware of the backs catching passes out of the backfield, a staple of Gruden’s offense.
I’m interested in the Jets defensive game plan. Do they stack the box, anticipating a lot of quick throws from Cousins because of his banged up line? Do they blitz, or can the defensive line get to the quarterback on their own? How do they scheme around Jackson? If there’s one guy who can figure this out and adjust along the way, it’s Bowles.
Talented defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson will re-join the Jets after serving his four game drug suspension.
This is no slight to Muhammad Wilkerson, one of the best defensive lineman in the league, but the versatility and dominance Richardson brings might make him the Jets best lineman. It’ll be a big boost for one of the league’s best defenses.
Move the chains
There isn’t a lot to say about the Jets offense. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick hasn’t been great, but the Jets still rank 10th in scoring offense.
With Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker and rookie Devin Smith all seemingly healthy for the first time this season, the Jets have no excuses not to execute through the air. Even if Fitzpatrick does struggle, just feed running back Chris Ivory the rock. You could make the case, as Marshall suggested this week, that Ivory is the best back in the league right now.
If the Jets come out focused and execute, there’s no reason they shouldn’t walk away with their fourth win of the year.