|Date:||November 15st, 2009
||Location:||East Rutherford, New Jersey
|Time:||1:00 PM EST
||Mid 50's, no chance of rain
|SBN Coverage:||Gang Green Nation||Coverage Map
The Jaguars travel to the swamps of New Jersey for what is in essence a playoff elimination game. Both teams are part of the logjam of 5-3/4-4 teams in the AFC. A win means they get a leg up on one of their main competitors, a loss means they'll need a lot of help to keep their hopes alive.
The last time the Jaguars went against a Rex Ryan defense was the final game of the 2008 season at Baltimore. It was certainly a low point in a season filled with low points. The Jaguars committed four turnovers and were held to only 245 yards in a 27-7 defeat.
Now the Jaguars must find a way to defend against the defense to keep their playoff hopes alive. In addition, the Jaguars must deal with a hot rookie quarterback, much like last year in Baltimore. Mark Sanchez has played well for the Jets so far, but has had his fair share of rookie moments.
Can the Jags go into the Meadowlands and land one of Jack Del Rio's biggest wins in his career, or will they have another quiet flight home?
Jaguars Offense vs Jets Defense
The Jets have an impressive resume on defense. They're the only unit in football that hasn't given up 100 yard rusher, 100 yard receiver, or 300 yard passer all year. The defense is surrendering only 11.5 points in the game, best in the NFL. They come at you from every angle and any one of the 11 players on the field is liable to blitz at any given time.
However, here is something to ponder with the Jets defense. How will the react to getting smacked in the mouth running the football? The only time the Jets defense had genuinely looked bad was when Miami ran at them with the Wildcat. That is where this game is going to be won or lost.
Maurice Jones-Drew has to start fast for the Jaguars to have a chance. If he gets going running the ball, that'll force a cocky Jets defense onto it's heels and give David a chance to get throws off. If we come out and throw nine straight times again,we'll likely be seeing Luke McCown because David will be on the sideline with broken ribs.
If MJD can get it going, I expect to see alot of screens to Mike Thomas on the outside as well as to Jones-Drew coming out of the backfield. The way you beat a blitz heavy team is to get them aggrivated and then use that against them.
When the Jaguars do decide to test the Jets through the air, the obvious target is going to be CB Lito Sheppard. Sheppard is coming off a quad injury and the Jets' other corner, Darrell Revis, is one of the best in the league. I would try to get Sims-Walker matched up with Sheppard as often as possible to test the quad injury, while leaving Holt to deal with Revis most of the time.
Jaguars Defense vs Jets Offense
Rookie Quarterback Mark Sanchez came out of the gates like a man possessed. However, he has slid back down to reality as the season has progressed. Sanchez was a turnover machine in losses against Buffalo and New Orleans, throwing a combined nine interceptions.
The Jaguars will need to build on the success against the Chiefs and hopefully get into Sanchez's face early. All the indications are that he'll show you early on how he's going to be. If he gets hot, back by the NFL's #1 rushing attack, we could end up with a repeat of the Seattle game.
As I previously mentioned, the Jets have the NFL's #1 rushing attack averaging over 170 yards per game.The Jets leading rusher is Thomas Jones, who has 704 yards and 7 touchdowns so far this season.
The Jaguars' defensive line will have to be the key to stopping the Jets' rushing attack. John Henderson and Terrance Knighton will have to be getting penetration in the back field to help counter for a weak right edge.
Speaking of that right edge, former practice squad player Bryan Smith will be the starting RDE for the Jaguars. As Collin pointed out in his brilliant two part series, he didn't play all the well against the Chiefs. However, Quentin Groves has been such a liability against the run it's not likely things could get much worse.
The basic game plan for the Jaguars has to be stopping the run and putting the ball in Mark Sanchez's hands. Sanchez hasn't looked great over the last five games and he's never had a situation where he's been expected to simply throw it to win.
Intangibles and Special Teams
If the Jets have the best rushing offense and one of the best defenses in the NFL, then why are they sitting at 4-4? Two reasons, turnovers and bad special teams.
The Jets have committed 15 turnovers so far in 2009, eleven being Mark Sanchez interceptions. However, the Jaguars are even worse. The Jaguars are -3 in the turnover department in 2009. David Garrard has thrown four interceptions in the last three games and he'll need to be careful to avoid more on Sunday.
The Jets' Special Teams melt down against the Dolphins two weeks ago has been well documented. However, the unit has been suspect all season. Mike Thomas seems like he's due to finally break a touchdown on a return and this would be a perfect week to do it.
Josh Scobee has been having something of an off year. Scobee is just 9-14, though 4 of those misses have been from 50+ and another one was blocked. Also, here is an interestining tid bit. Scobee leads the league with 6 attempts from more than 50 yards. The next closest is Mason Crosby of Green Bay with 4, then several kickers with 3. Only 5 kickers have had more than 2 50+ yard attempts this year.
Jack Del Rio leads the Jaguars to the Meadowlands for the final time as the stadium is scheduled to close after this year. After almost coughing up a win against the Chiefs, it will be interesting to see how the Jaguars respond to that scare.
Rex Ryan is coming off his first bye week as head coach. In an interesting move, the Jets only had two days worth of practice during the bye week, despite losing four of their last five games.
Player On The Hot Seat
Maurice Jones-Drew, RB
The entire fate of the Jaguars offense rests in his hands. If he can't get things going running the ball, then the Jets will have their ears pinned back the entire game and it could get even uglier than Seattle.
Video Killed The Game Preview
New York Jets 24
Mike Thomas breaks a punt return for a touchdown, the Jaguars score following a Mark Sanchez interception deep in Jets territory, and get two long pounding drives thanks to Jones-Drew.