If the NFL regular season was its own football game, the final whistle of the Green & White’s fourth game would conclude the first quarter. With a 2-1 record, they insure themselves of finishing no-worse than .500 during that stretch; and after a nerve-racking overtime win in Miami, the New York Jets can claim they survived the debacle that was “The Replacement Era” with two division wins to show for it. Going 3-1 would give the AFC East leaders a nice cushion as they play the Texans and Colts at home, before traveling north to clash with the Patriots.
Now the Jets play four of the next five games at home, and travel no further than Foxboro, Massachusetts before their bye.
This will be a crucial stretch, and could very well decide the course of the remainder of the season. They have every excuse not to succeed, with the running game sputtering, the passing game as unimpressive as it’s ever been, and Darrelle Revis out for the remainder of 2012, but as every coach has said at one time or another… let’s take it one game at a time.
The San Francisco 49ers roll into MetLife Stadium after a terrible loss in Minnesota to the Vikings, and then camping out at Youngstown State in Ohio for the week. Head coach Jim Harbaugh won’t need to try hard to rally his troops against the Jets, as they make their three-week bid to secure the state title of New York. After the Jets, the Niners return to Candlestick for a tussle against the Buffalo Bills, then a rematch of the NFC title game against the New York Giants. Despite a loss last week, Alex Smith is looking as in-command of the offense as he did at the end of last season. With beasts like Frank Gore, Vernon Davis, Randy Moss, Mario Manningham and Michael Crabtree at the skill positions, the Niners may be the best collection of offensive talent to visit MetLife Stadium this season. Let’s see if the Jets, with their secondary depleted, linebackers missing tackles everywhere, and its pass rush non-existent, can give the team a chance to stay in this one.
There is nothing I believe in more than running to win a football game, so it’s imperative that the ground and pound show up on Sunday afternoon if the Jets want to walk off the field with a win. I’ve banged on Shonn Greene enough; he just isn’t the feature back the Jets want him to be. The emergence of Bilal Powell is a welcome sight, but without a strong complimentary back, defenses will key on him eventually and the numbers will come down. With only 3 carries and 14 yard as a running back, Rex Ryan has decided to use Joe McKnight as a defensive back… a move McKnight isn’t all too pleased with. The addition of Jonathon Grimes, signed off the Texans practice squad, could be a welcomed boost to the run-game, but it’s Week 4 and we’re still asking the same questions of the offense we did during the preseason. Tim Tebow is being sprinkled in here and there, but we haven’t seen a concerted effort to feature him in the offense. If there are any tricks left in the bag, offensive coordinator Tony Sparano needs to empty it pronto, or the Jets stand no chance against Patrick Willis, Carlos Rogers and that stingy Niners defense.
Receivers like Stephen Hill and Jeremy Kerley will need to catch the football for Sanchez to have a chance to succeed. There have been way too many drops already, and Santonio Holmes can’t do it alone, despite his mammoth 9 catch and 147 yard performance last week. It was good to see the Jets utilizing a great catching TE like Konrad Reuland out of the backfield, and we should see more of that with John Conner iffy for Sunday. Dustin Keller will be a welcome sight as well, as he may give it go, returning from an injured hamstring. With Cumberland proving he can catch as well as block, maybe we see the Jets line up in a few dual TE sets, looking to pass the ball. The Jets may not have the weapons at the skill positions the Niners flaunt, but they do have enough to mount a strong challenge.
It’s only Week 4 and we’ve seen some outstanding play from rookies around the league, which brings me to Quinton Coples. After the preseason he had, I expected to see so much more of him in opposing backfields. He sports a disappointing 4 tackles and one roughing the passer penalty while rarely showing up on obvious pass plays. It’s way too early to indict Coples, or lump him in with a Vernon Gholston, but it doesn’t help when he’s playing like this.
Special teams have been a plus for Gang Green, and will need to have another big game. Newcomer Robert Malone has been nothing short of outstanding in his first three games with the Jets. He’s got 14 punts on the young season with an average of a little over 46 yards per. Impressive, yes, but even more impressive are his 6 inside the twenty and a long of 61. Jeremy Kerley has a punt return for a TD, but also put one on the turf. After fighting for his job in the preseason, Nick Folk has come out of the blocks with a fury, nailing all six of his attempts so far. He hasn’t had to kick one over forty yet, which is to the offense’s credit. Let’s not forget Tebow’s run on a fake punt from deep in enemy territory which went for a first down. Coach Mike Westoff has shown a little creativity and has his unit doing everything it can to push the team over the top. Against a stacked team like the San Francisco 49ers, the Jets will need it.
Tune into the N.Y. Jets in 30, with your hosts the Amazing Jinx Grand (@JGSportsTalk) and myself every Saturday at 4pm for game analysis, predictions and a breakdown of the next week’s opponent. Join the huddle!
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