The New York Jets entered the Battle of New York with a quite a bit on the line.
First and foremost, Gang Green is looking to keep its playoff hopes alive with a victory over the "visiting" New York Giants. The Jets control their own postseason destiny and will earn yet another wild-card berth if they can win out. Of course, they need to win out with the Cincinnati Bengals hot on their heels.
The striped kitties have a home date with the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday before closing out the season with another home game versus the Baltimore Ravens. That Week 17 matchup looks daunting until you realize the Ravens have been shells of themselves away from home.
In other words, one loss and that could be all she wrote for New York's AFC representative.
With their finale on the road against a rejuvenated-but-still-vulnerable Miami Dolphins squad, the Jets' stiffest challenge figures to be this Week 16 pairing with their city-mates. Both teams enter the contest on a crawl, with the Jets getting obliterated by the Philadelphia Eagles last week and the G-Men dropping a gimme to the woeful Washington Redskins, so both sides are looking to right their teetering ships before it's too late.
Oh yeah, there's also the little matter of the NYC bragging rights that are front and center thanks to the tediously talkative Rex Ryan, whose mouth is almost as big as his gut (and his ego dwarfs both).
So, we've got quite a nice pot at stake this morning.
With these five halftime adjustments, the Jets, trailing 10-7 at the half, can take all the chips and continue their push toward the postseason:
1. Don't Ask Mark Sanchez To Do Too Much
Throughout the first half, the Jets gave quarterback Mark Sanchez tons of time to throw. Even so, Sanchez was the weak link—he made some questionable decisions and generally looked like the mediocre gunslinger he is.
With the playoffs possibly hanging in the balance, I'd minimize Sanchez' exposure to maximize my chances for victory.
2. Run, Run, Run and Run Some More
They have to do something on offense and, if you're going to limit your QB, that means the running backs have to step up. Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson showed brief dynamic flashes, but were largely held in check by the Giant defense.
Still, I'd keep pounding away with those two and utilize them in the short-passing game as well.
Slow and steady seems to win the race for the Jets.
3. Remove the Quotation Marks from "Special Teams"
The Jets have looked great on defense, alright on offense and woeful on special teams outside of one nice return. The only rays of hope for the Giants have broken through the gloom when the special teams have been on the field. The G-Men's returners have been close to breaking several returns and the Jets special teamers have shot themselves in the feet via repeated penalties.
If Rex Ryan's troops can tighten that facet of the game up, it should pay actual and psychological dividends.
4. Ditch the Zone
Maybe not entirely, but it seems to play away from the Jets' strength on defense—i.e. lockdown cover corners. The Giants' passing game was basically ineffective until it caught the Jets' D in a zone, e.g. the big gainer to Victor Cruz in the second half.
Meanwhile, Darrelle Revis and company were suffocating the opposition in man-to-man.
I don't know Xs and Os well enough to advocate completely scrapping the zone look, but I'd sure as hell make it the exception rather than the rule.
5. Give the Defensive Line Some More of Whatever It Ate in the Pre-Game
Except for a handful of plays, the Jets defensive line was giving the Giants offensive line fits throughout the first half. Consequently, the Giants' biggest weapon—quarterback Eli Manning—was essentially nullified.
If Gang Green can squeeze another similar 30 minutes from the big fellas up front, it should carry the day and be crowned kings of New York.