By Glenn Naughton
As the Jets prepare to take on the Baltimore Ravens today at 1 pm, JetNation.com takes a look at some of the story lines heading toward kickoff.
Geno’s Back: Few players in Jets history have been as polarizing as quarterback Geno Smith. The former second-round draft choice has consistently displayed poor decision-making both on and off the field. With former starter Ryan Fitzpatrick playing the worst football of his life, Smith gets the nod to slide back under center.
Love him or hate him, Smith has physical tools that will open up the Jets play book, allowing offensive coordinator Chan Gailey to call for more deep shots down the field to speedsters Robby Anderson, Charone Peake and veteran Quincy Enunwa while also looking to use rookie Jalin Marshall outside the hashes and underneath.
When asked last week about Smith’s social media posts following Jets losses and his mini-tantrum on the sidelines following a Fitzpatrick interception, head coach Todd Bowles was asked about his thoughts on Smith’s behavior. “I don’t have any thoughts on backup players saying anything,” said Bowles. “They’re backups for a reason. If they get a chance to play, they better prove themselves to be worthy of playing, regardless of who that person is.”
That sounds an awful lot like a head coach telling a malcontent that he better step up when his number is called. Today is Smith’s chance to do just that. Will he step up?
Will the defense show up? Clearly the team’s biggest disappointment this season has been the number of no-show performances from the defense.
Loaded with first-round draft picks at every level, the unit is currently ranked 28th in the NFL against the pass, allowing 290 yards per game, while giving up 27.3 points per game, good for just 25th in the NFL.
When your head coach was hired because of his reputation as one of the better defensive minds in the NFL, at some point you have to shut somebody down.
Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco missed some practice time this week with a bad throwing shoulder but was eventually a full participant in practice. Currently, there’s little reason to expect much pressure from a defense that has been largely invisible while facing some of the leagues most beaten up offensive lines as of late, yet still failing to get to the quarterback.
Turnover on the depth-chart, but none on the field: The Jets announced that inside linebacker has been placed on the non-football-injury/illness list and will miss 8 weeks at the very least. With first round draft pick Darron Lee ruled out with a knee injury, it puts Bruce Carter in the starting role alongside David Harris. Henderson’s roster spot has been filled by Julian Stanford who was elevated from the practice squad.
Outside linebacker/Defensive end Victor Ochi was also added to the 53-man roster as tight end Bradeon Bowman was placed on IR with an ACL injury.
Will any of this turnover lead to some actual turnovers? The Jets are currently dead last in the NFL, having forced just 3 turnovers. If they hope to string together a few wins, it’s going to start with protecting the ball on offense, and making it harder for their opponents to do on defense.