After a roller-coaster twelve weeks in Gotham, the Jets sit at 6-5, ninth place in the AFC. The once-Super Bowl favorites are now in need of five consecutive wins to close the season, as well as some luck.
New York travels to the nation's capital this week in a must-win game with the sputtering Washington Redskins. The Jets have the talent do dominate a weak Washington squad from start to finish, but inconsistency could cost Gang Green its season.
1. Pressure Rex Grossman
The Jets' lack of a formidable pass-rusher is costing the defensive unit gravely. Even when sending linebacker and safeties on a blitz, Gang Green has trouble disrupting the quarterback.
Rex Grossman has a shaky arm and is terrible under pressure. If New York can get to the former backup and disrupt his tempo, the unit could force multiple turnovers and shift the momentum toward the Jets sideline.
2. Defend the screen at all costs
Due to Grossman's weak arm, Washington constantly checks down to dynamic rookie running back Roy Helu on screen routes. The Redskins actually manage to do damage on dumping the ball off to Helu, and they are able to pick up key first downs.
The Jets must pay close attention to the screen pass and should leave explosive linebacker David Harris to defend the screen pass by closely watching the running back out of the backfield. This will take away one of the Redskins' most effective offensive weapons.
3. Ground and pound
The Redskins rank among the bottom half of the league in defending the run. This will mean a strong dose of Shonn Greene and second-year man Joe McKnight out of the backfield.
Greene's physical running should bowl over a weak Washington front, while New York's powerful offensive line will open up holes for the runners to explode through.
4. Communication between Mark Sanchez and receivers
Throughout the year, miscommunication between Mark Sanchez and the Jets wide receivers has been costly. Too often are wideouts running wrong routes and costing New York valuable yards.
The coaching staff really needs to shine light on this issue and make sure Sanchez and his offensive weapons are on the same page.
Miscommunication could be costly for Gang Green, as the Redskins' opportunistic secondary ranks 10th in the league in passing defense.
5. Special teams needs to avoid mistakes
The Jets were thought to have one of the game's best special teams coming into the season. However, over the last few weeks the unit has been a liability for New York.
Punt returners are committing costly turnovers and giving the opponent great field position. If the Jets are to win in Washington this week and keep their playoff hopes alive, the returners need to avoid mistakes and produce.
If the Jets can be successful at these keys, they will have no trouble rolling over an inconsistent Redskins squad.
Expect the defense to regain its swagger against an awful Washington offense and give New York its second straight victory. This should propel Gang Green into the playoff hunt and give Rex Ryan and crew confidence heading down the stretch.
Jets 24, Redskins 13