NFL Week 3: How the Jets' Defense Can Make Ryan Tannehill Look Like a Rookie
After a great Week 1 and a less-than-stellar Week 2, the New York Jets will be looking to get back on the positive side of .500 in Week 3. They will travel to Miami to face the 1-1 division rival Dolphins.
One way to win the game with ease would be to shut down the Dolphins passing attack and make quarterback Ryan Tannehill look like an overwhelmed rookie. The Jets defensive front—with nose tackle Sione Pouha back in play—is fearsome against the run.
The Dolphins will need to throw the ball to stand a chance. One big question is whether or not they will be able to. The Jets defense has it within their power to overwhelm Tannehill. Here are four things they need to do to make that happen.
Tackles for Loss
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The New York Jets defensive front seven is one of the strongest in the NFL. Their ability to get penetrations and hit running backs before they have chances to find holes is a big part of this. Even in the Week 2 loss in Pittsburgh, the Jets racked up seven tackles for loss.
Linebacker Garrett McIntyre had a break-out game with four tackles for loss. Undrafted out of Fresno State in 2006, McIntyre did not play in an NFL game until 2011. His six solo tackles in Week 2 nearly matched his previous career total of 10.
Tackles for loss can result in second-and-long or third-and-long plays. Forcing obvious passing situations is the best way to expose a rookie quarterback.
If Ryan Tannehill has to make aggressive and dangerous throws, interceptions become very likely. Tannehill is still new to the NFL and can be forced into mistakes with pressure and blitzes on third-and-long.
This plan came to fruition in Week 1 against the Buffalo Bills. Three different Jets cornerbacks intercepted quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Get Revis Healthy
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It is imperative that Revis is healthy and playing on Sunday in order to make Tannehill truly look like a rookie. Revis turns Hall of Fame quarterbacks into average quarterbacks. He makes average quarterbacks look like they need one more year of college.
If Revis does not play, expect to see former seventh-round pick Ellis Lankster play again. This will likely mean spots on the field where Tannehill can find open receivers.
If Revis does play, then the question will be how bold Tannehill feels. If he is smart, he will avoid Revis all game and stick to one side of the field. He also might be able to make something happen across the middle of the field against safety LaRon Landry.
Get Coples Involved
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Rookie defensive end Quinton Coples looked like a monster in the preseason. So far in the regular season, he has been quiet. In each of his first two NFL games, he recorded only one tackle.
In Week 1, Coples had the excuse that nose tackle Sione Pouha was out with injury. The result was that Coples was double-teamed.
In Week 2, Coples sat on the bench a lot against the Steelers' larger front.
In Week 3, it is time to have no more excuses. Coples has the talent to be a fierce pass rusher. With Sione Pouha back and drawing double-teams on nearly every play, Coples will have ample opportunities to rush quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
If Coples is to have a special rookie year, this is the time to begin it. He needs to record a sack, or at least put significant pressure on Tannehill. If he can, then the opportunistic Jets defensive backs will likely be able to turn that pressure into interceptions.
In Week 1, the Jets recorded three interceptions on plays in which they rushed only with the front four. Coples needs to be a force toward achieving that type of success.
Make Landry Have the Right Kind of Impact
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You can count on safety LaRon Landry being an impact player each week. The question is whether that impact will be positive or negative.
Against the Bills, Landry forced a fumble and made vicious tackles against opposing backs and receivers.
Against the Steelers, his biggest impacts were two costly personal fouls.
Landry is a talented safety and a hard-hitter. He can force both fumbles and interceptions. However, hitting players late or after a pass has already been dropped has no benefits. He needs to hit players at the right time and be disciplined in his tackles.
As Landry said of himself, "I just have to be a little smarter."
If Landry, Bell, Revis, Wilson and Cromartie are all healthy and communicating in the Jets defensive backfield, there are few places for a young quarterback to go with the ball.