Sunday, November 15, 2009

Jets vs Jaguars Preview

Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Jets
November 15, 2009: CBS, 1:00 PM.

Rex Ryan and the New York Jets sit at a disappointing 4-4. Not necessarily disappointing to preseason projections, but certainly going 1-4 after a 3-0 start is a let-down. But if they want to get things turned around, the Jaguars are ripe to be beaten. David Garrard has lost the magic of his 2007 season, but WR Mike Sims-Walker has emerged as a #1 receiver, and RB Maurice Jones-Drew is one of the best in the league. The Jaguars are also 4-4, so they sit at a similar crossroads as the Jets.

Injuries

New York Jets
DOUBTFUL
LB Vernon Gholston (hamstring)

PROBABLE
DE Shaun Ellis (knee)
CB Lito Sheppard (quadriceps, will play, but Dwight Lowery will probably start)
WR Brad Smith (quadriceps)
CB Donald Strickland (ankle)
OT Damien Woody (back)
WR Wallace Wright (knee)

Jacksonville Jaguars
OUT
WR/TE Ernest Wilford (ankle)

QUESTIONABLE
S Gerald Alexander (shoulder)

PROBABLE
DT John Henderson (ankle)
RB Maurice Jones-Drew (knee)

When the Jets have the ball...
The Jets want to be a run-first team, but this may be a week where giving Sanchez a little longer leash would be smart. The Jaguars have struggled against the pass all year long, with just five interceptions all year, and they allow quarterbacks to throw to a 100.2 QB rating, third worst in the NFL.

This is also the first game where Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery are both completely healthy, and Edwards has been in town more than a few days. Those two and TE Dustin Keller should see a lot of targets their way, especially on third downs, and they will need to make some plays against the Jaguars' weakest link.

The primary reason teams have been able to throw all over the Jaguars is because they simply have had no pass rush all year. The Jets have been good at giving Sanchez time for most of the season. The Jaguars average just one sack per game, so there's a very good chance that Sanchez makes it three consecutive games without turning the football over.

But make no mistake about it, the Jets want to run. Thomas Jones is on pace for another big year, and he and Shonn Greene will see the ball early and often. The Jaguars' run defense had looked pretty stout for most of the year, but DT John Henderson may be wearing down. The Titans' Chris Johnson ran for 220 yards against this defense, so it can be done. Jones is no Johnson, but he will be able to make a few plays.

The Jaguars' defense is also in a state of transition, too. After playing seven games in the 3-4, they switched to the 4-3 against Kansas City after the Titans shredded them. It worked against the Chiefs, but they're not exactly the best judge. The Jets could hit a few big plays either in the running game or the passing game as a result.

The addition of Edwards becomes huge in games like this one. The Jaguars can't simply sell out against the run now, and the Jets have another weapon to get the ball down the field if they do. Edwards and Clowney can work deep sideline; Cotchery and Keller can work short middle, and Jones and Greene should find enough holes for the Jets to put up enough points to win.

Edge: Jets

When the Jaguars have the ball...
Maurice Jones-Drew is the total package. He averages 5.1 yards-per-carry and is 6th in the NFL in rushing yards. He also leads the NFL with 11 touchdowns, and he might be the best closer in the NFL around the goal-line.

Bringing down Drew will be the Jets' main focus. The New York defense has been stout all season (minus the first Dolphins game), and they hold opposing backs to 4.0 yards-per-carry. While the pass defense carries the Jets, the run defense is certainly solid. But Drew is the best all-around back the Jets have faced since Chris Johnson in week two. Johnson, who tore up the Jags for 220 yards two weeks ago as mentioned earlier, had 97 yards against the Jets, but it took him 22 carries, and he did not score. If MoJo has the same numbers as Johnson did, Rex Ryan and co. will be thrilled.

David Garrard has been two different quarterbacks. In four games at home, he has a 65.3% completion percentage, six touchdowns, three interceptions, and a 95.0 QB rating. On the road, he's been awful, with a 55.2% completion percentage and a 64.7 QB rating. More importantly, he has yet to throw a touchdown. Luckily for the Jets, this is a home game. Maybe that's why Rex Ryan implored the crowd to get loud again.

While the Jaguars signed former Ram Torry Holt to be their number one receiver, it's Mike Sims-Walker that has stepped up. Sims-Walker has at least 80 yards in five of his six games, and at 6-2, 214, with good speed, he's tough for any defense to defend. Any defense that doesn't have Darrelle Revis that is. Revis has made Andre Johnson, Randy Moss, and Marques Colston look bad, and Sims-Walker isn't any of them just yet. Revis should have his way, and the Jaguars don't have enough other weapons for Garrard to have that great a day. One name to watch out for, however, is Mike Thomas, the Jags' slot receiver who could be matched up against Lito Sheppard. Sheppard might not be all the way back from injury, and Thomas has quickness.

Still, the Jets' defense one of the best in the league all season long. The main thing that has been missing is defensive touchdowns, something the Ravens pride themselves on. Garrard is pretty careful with the ball for the most part, but if the Jets can get ahead early, they should be able to force him into some mistakes. Garrard has been sacked 20 times this year and has lost four fumbles. The Jets will throw everything they can at him to increase those totals.

Edge: Jets

Intangibles
Both teams desperately need a win, but the Jets get an advantage with an extra week to prepare. Teams typically come out better after the bye week, but there also could be some rust. In a game where getting ahead early will be vital, there can't afford to be any.

The Jets are also coming off a special teams meltdown. The Jaguars are an above average returning team, but they lack a difference-maker like Ted Ginn Jr. Justin Miller looked like he may have lost a step last week, but it's not fair to judge him after just one game. The Jets have the edge in the kicking game with Jay Feely over Josh Scobee, though Scobee has the bigger leg. Neither punter is anything special.

Edge: Push

Prediction
The Jets' defense may take a quarter to get back to their pre-bye form, but the Jets match up very well with the Jaguars. Revis should be able to take out Sims-Walker. Drew should get some yards, but they need to limit the huge plays. This is where it helps that the Jets' defensive backs are good tacklers. The offense should be able to put up points and control the football, and coming off the bye, it looks like the Jets are the better, fresher team with good matchups at home.
Jets 24, Jaguars 13

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