On Monday night the New York Jets (2-2) take on the Atlanta Falcons (1-3) in a prime time match-up at the Georgia Dome (8:40 EST). The Jets are coming off of an embarrassing loss to the Titans, while the Falcons are trying to regroup following a defeat to the Patriots. Lets take a look at some of the keys to the game from a New York perspective.
Limit turnovers- The spotlight once again will shine bright on rookie quarterback Geno Smith. The Jets signal caller must find a way to limit his turnovers while making better decisions with the football. Smith has to take what the defense gives him and know when to tuck the ball away or throw it away when a play cannot be made.
Wide receiver by committee? With Santonio Holmes out Monday night due to an injury the New York Jets will be fielding a pedestrian group of wide receivers. Jeremy Kerley will be the number one option with Clyde Gates, Stephen Hill, and newly acquired David Nelson sharing reps. Nelson is an intriguing option with his 6’5 frame, but chemistry with Smith could be an early issue. Note: Wide receiver Ryan Spadola was released by Gang Green.
Utilize Winslow and Cumberland- In order for the Jets passing game to be truly effective offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg should get both Kellen Winslow and Jeff Cumberland established. The Jets tight ends can be used in a variety of formations and could serve as reliable targets for Geno Smith. Note: As of now Winslow is listed as questionable for the game. This has to be a huge concern for the Jets.
Balanced play calling- Over the past two weeks the Jets play calling has been fairly aggressive in terms of trying to get the ball down field. This week Gang Green should try to get the running game more established while incorporating a more intermediate air attack. The Jets should try to incorporate more screen passes, quick slants, and draw plays to keep the Falcon defense off-balance. Running back Mike Goodson will return from suspension on Monday night and he could be an explosive threat with the ball in his hands out of the backfield.
Consistent coverage in the secondary- This season the Falcons have struggled to run the ball (ranked 23rd in the NFL)which has forced Matt Ryan to rely heavily on the passing attack. Ryan has several dangerous weapons at his disposal (Julio Jones, Harry Douglas, Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez) therefore there will be a ton of pressure on the Jets secondary to make plays. Gang Green will more than likely be without rookie Dee Milliner which means that Darrin Walls could once again see extensive playing time. New York’s secondary must remain consistent in coverage and prevent yards after the catch.
Contain Gonzalez- Atlanta tight end Tony Gonzalez is off to a hot start with 23 catches for 242 yards and 3 touchdowns. The Jets defense must account for Gonzalez at all times and prevent the future Hall of Famer from taking over the game. Gang Green’s defense must be physical with Tony at the line and make the Falcon tight end earn all of his yards. Don’t be surprised to see the Jets double cover Tony Gonzalez.
Bring the heat- One of the best ways to slow down the Atlanta passing attack is to get consistent pressure on Matt Ryan. Gang Green’s front seven must collapse the pocket and prevent Ryan from getting the ball down the field. Keep an eye on the left tackle position for the Falcons as Sam Baker has been ruled out with a knee injury. Jets linebackers Quinton Coples and Antwan Barnes could have a huge nights in terms of getting to the quarterback.
This is a very tough spot for the New York Jets as they will be entering a hostile environment facing a team trying to save their season. I believe that both defenses will be able to stop the run, which will put pressure on the quarterbacks to make plays. The injury to Santonio Holmes is big for the Jets and there are tons of question marks behind Jeremy Kerley. Going to take the team that has the better quarterback and substantially better playmakers. Falcons 28-10