This year the New York Jets schedule is not as tough as it was last season, but there are definitely some games that will be fun to watch. Some teams on this years schedule include: Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers, Philadelphia Eagles, New England Patriots, New York Giants, Miami Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens, Dallas Cowboys and many more.
Some of those games will make it onto this list because more attention needs to be focused on a certain aspect of the game, causing the Jets to make a custom game plan. This list will take you through what some of the key aspects are in the tough games the Jets will have if and when the lockout comes to an end.
*This list is in chronological order and not by toughest games.
As always, feedback is welcome. Enjoy!
A rematch of last year’s season opener, the Jets will travel down to Baltimore and try to redeem themselves after falling short 10-9 against the Raven’s on National Television. For this game, all the pressure is on Offensive Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. Last year, he made it obvious that he struggles with calling offensive plays for the Jets since he so many weapons and did not know how to utilize them in tough situations (i.e. 10-9 loss against Baltimore, 9-0 loss against Green Bay, 10-6 loss against Miami).
This time he will to make use of every weapon he will have. The Jets may not have both Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes, which means the running game will have to be dominant for a third season in a row. In order for the running game to be successful against the tough Baltimore defense, Schottenheimer will need to mix up plays and not be as predictable as he was last season or Ray Lewis and the Ravens will stop the run all day and the Jets will lose once again.
Unlike the way it has been the last four years, the Jets will travel to New England for the rivalry’s first game of 2011. Last time the Jets travelled to Foxborough, they left with a revenge filled victory as they knocked the Patriots out of the playoffs when most people counted the out because of the 45-3 rout the Patriots had against the Jets earlier in the season.
If the Jets want a similar result to their victory in January, it will need to be a collective effort. There is no denying that the Belichick and Brady combination is deadly, and as a team, the Patriots have continued to be a force to reckoned with. In order to win, one side of the ball cannot dominate.
On offense, the Jets need to get their running game established early-on, it will set up the bootleg play that was extremely successful for Sanchez in 2009 and with tight end Dustin Keller, those plays can be very explosive for the run-heavy offense.
On defense, Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine will need to be able to scatter their blitzes and disguise them well. One of the downsides to a Rex Ryan defense is that you know that the defense is going to blitz on third down. Against the Patriots who have a quarterback with a high football IQ in Tom Brady, they cannot only blitz on third down. Ryan and Pettine should take some chances early in drives, even if the attempts are not successful they will change the complexion of the game by making the Patriots think that the Jets will blitz at anytime.
When it comes to the Jets-Patriots rivalry, each game needs its own strategy. In this game, the Jets need to stick to the persona they have inherited over the years, aggressive and obnoxious.
Being aggressive is self-explanatory; when it comes to play calling on offense, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer is not known for his aggressive play-calling. His conservative play-calling has made it easier for opponents to see through the Jets offense and stop it a lot easier.
A suggestion for Schottenheimer would be to use Brad Smith for more than running out of the wildcat (if they resign him after the lockout). Something that someone pointed out when he commented on my last article is that when Smith enters the game and is getting the snap, he is always running. Last season Smith only threw three passes, while rushing 38 times; Brian Schottenheimer is forgetting that Smith can throw the ball well, which he displayed in his time at Missourri. He might as well be telling defenses that they will be running the football when Brad Smith enters the game in the wildcat formation
In terms of being obnoxious, that is where the fans come into play. In New York, Jets fans are categorized as the rowdy fans when compared to Giants fans, but that is just a generalization. Though, there is some truth to that generalization, when the Patriots go to play the Jets at the Meadowlands, fans are relentless when making noise to create problems for the Patriots offense. This support from fans needs to continue when the Jets play at home because it truly gives them home-field advantage.
The last two years the Jets have beaten the Patriots at home, the fans played an active role in disrupting the Patriots offense, and in order to keep the home winning streak alive against the Patriots, they need to continue being disruptive. The Jets' unofficial mascot, "Fireman Ed" (photo) should do a pretty good job of getting the fans excited throughout the game as he starts the famous "J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS!" chant.
In this matchup the Jets defense will have their hands full against the Eagles’ offensive weapons. The strategy in this one is to contain Michael Vick. The advantage the Jets have going into this one on defense is that their secondary is arguably the best in the league. If and when they re-sign Antonio Cromartie after the lockout, the previous statement will be enforced.
The secondary is an advantage because that allows the Jets to play man coverage against Philadelphia’s great receivers like Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson. In order for the Jets to contain Vick, they will need to use faster players like James Idhedigbo to attack him on pass plays because Vick is a scrambling quarterback and could easily get away from the Jets defensive lineman. By sending a safety like Idhedigbo, it will leave Revis and Cromartie covering receivers on their own, but because of their abilities, it should not be a problem.
Overall, the key strategy in this game is to attack Vick using faster players often, rather than just relying on their defensive lineman.
While the Giants did not make the playoffs last year after a late season collapse, there is no doubt that they are a good football team. In this game, there will be no home-field advantage, as the stadium will likely be split 50-50 with Giants and Jets fans.
If the Jets want to win this one and have a Merry Christmas, they are going to have to find a way to stop a well-balanced offense. Like the Jets, the Giants have a balanced offense with multiple weapons that could easily get into the end zone. The challenge the Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine will face is how to stop Ahmad Bradshaw’s explosiveness, Brandon Jacobs’ power and the aerial attack led by Eli Manning.
Just like their game against the Eagles, the Jets have the ability to make their cornerbacks go into man coverage without worrying too much that they will allow a giant gain. This will free up the linebackers, so they can drop back and cover against the pass but also go into the trenches or edges to stop the run.
If I were to turn the Jets strategy into a phrase, it would be to be ready for anything on each play, which is very possible if Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride does his job well.
In their final game of the season, the Jets will travel down to Miami to face the Dolphins. In the four games these two have played since Rex Ryan became head coach, the Jets have lost three of four. All of the games have been decided by 10 points or less, which means expect some late game drama. This game could also decide who goes to the postseason from the AFC East just like it did at the end of the 2008 season.
In this matchup, the key to winning the game is protection. Against the Dolphins, Mark Sanchez has been sacked nine times in the last two years while only throwing one interception. By giving him time in the pocket, it allows the receivers’ routes to develop, keeping Mark from forcing passes into bad situations, which only helps the opponent. Smart passes keep drives moving and if the close game pattern continues between these two rivals, every play makes a difference.