I find it to be somewhat ironic that Tim Tebow will likely play little if at all in the matchup between the two teams that were the most interested in his services when he was put on the trading block. Tim's fans and detractors alike probably looked to this game as his time to shine even if he hadn't claimed the starting position by this point.
Well...you can either rejoice or pout, the coaching will be sticking with Mark Sanchez through this one, either out of stubbornness or just knowing something that the rest of us don't. If reports from the media this previous week are to be believed, the Jets coaches have no interest in giving Tebow a shot and will likely fall back to Greg McElroy should Sanchez be benched again.
It's not all doom and gloom and QB controversy. This week the team gets a bit of a reprieve as they face the consistently embattled double-digit loss holding Jacksonville Jaguars. Chad Henne inspires fear in no man. The Jets are 2nd in their division and only two spots removed from a wild card seed, as rough as the road has been. The Jaguars are eliminated from any sort of contention and playing for the future/draft picks. Similar to last week, we are facing one of the few teams with a consistently worse offense than our own. In fact, by all measures JAX is one of the very worst teams in the NFL. Even the circus coming to town is a major challenge for them.
The Jaguars are a gift wrapped rebound waiting to happen. This is a win unless the Jets defeat themselves. Anything short of a solid victory would be a tremendous indictment of this teams failures, even in a season that has been this underwhelming so far. I don't want to be unreasonable, but this season is not yet lost. Let's buck up and support our team, they need it.
Crack open a cold one while we break this down with the help of our friends at Verizon.
Where Each Team Is
Neither team is in an enviable position. The 5-7 Jets are neck deep in controversy and the media widely pans them as a circus and a joke team in 2012-13. The 2-10 Jacksonville Jaguars have never been taken seriously since the teams playoff runs in the 90's under Mark Brunell when he could still play football. New Jaguars owner Ron Jeremy has struggled in his efforts to breath life into the franchise. Whoever loses this game may well be considered the worst team this year by fans and analysts alike.
Sister Site: Big Cat Country
Location: EverBank Field, Jacksonville, Florida.
Field: Open air, grass.
Coverage: CBS. DirecTV 717. Sirius XM 93.
Weather: Partly sunny and warm with a high of 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Record: All time series is 6-3 in favor of the Jaguars.
Who is favored?: Jets by 2.5.
What happened last time? Jets beat the Jaguars quite handily in one of the few beat downs delivered by the Jets in 2011, 32-3.
For an expansion team that has had very limited overall success in the NFL, the Jaguars have always kind of had our number. There are exceptions, like last years blowout and a 1995 victory that young GGN writer Sp0rtsfan86 was in attendance of. Largely speaking though, this is not a team that Gang Green plays consistently well against. Given what a train wreck this year has been so far I could really see it going either way.
A lot of you rightfully called my score predictor against the Cardinals wayyyyy too high. I'll eat crow for that one, and I won't make the same mistake in thinking that either the Jets or Jags could have a miraculous shootout.My first inclination is that this is going to be a defensive matchup, but the Jags defense is so incredibly bad (as bad as their O) that I don't think they can hang with us this season, even at the teams worst. There is no facet of performance or ranking where the Jaguars are outperforming the Jets except for passing for 10 more yards per game. When reading the Jags awful ranking below keep in mind that the Jets also win the time of possession battle handily, and are even in terms of third down conversions. This is the Jets game to lose.
Offense: The Jets are 29th in overall offense, 26th in points, 28th in passing and 12th in rushing. New York has quietly and steadily improved it's running attack and at the current trajectory would crack the top ten ranking if this week is successful. If there was ever a time for NYJ to get back to its ground and pound roots, it is against the Jaguars 2nd worst rushing and overall defense. Jacksonville is 31st in yards, 30th in points, 24th in passing and 32nd (the absolute worst) in rushing. These offensive rankings are almost identical to the ranks the Cardinals held when the Jets faced them last week. The Jaguars are slightly worse, offensively.
Defense: The Jets are 22nd in points allowed, 10th in overall yards allowed (NICE! A 9 slot jump in a single week into the top 10!), 4th against the pass (top five in spite of missing our star player for the year), and 29th against the rush. Although the run defense is still a great cause for concern, the Jets have steadily built their way back to their roots of top tier defense and a powerful rushing attack. The poor season does not yet reflect this, but the team is actually on the upswing statistically. Performances are improving unit-wide and the team is reclaiming its rankings even if it doesn't look as solid as it used to. This is quite an accomplishment in my eyes given the challenges we have faced this season as a franchise.
Jacksonville is 31st against the rush, 30th in points allowed, 28th against the pass and 31st against the rush. Compare these numbers to our opponent in last weeks defensive struggle: 11th in points allowed and 4th in passing yards allowed, 7th in total defense and 23rd against the run. This is a very different and more favorable game.
Attacking the Jaguars
Run. The. Ball. That's the only way. The Jets fourth-best rushing attack in the league is a quiet surprise, and would be hard pressed to find a more favorable match up than the Jaguars 2nd worst running defense in the league. The Jets don't even need a QB to win this game, luckily for us.Very few teams are as consistently bad in every unit as the Jags are this year, there is no shortage of weaknesses to exploit, even by an underperforming team like the Jets.
Jacksonville Jaguar to Watch: Jason Babin?
Yes, the question mark is intentional. I'm curious to see if Babin can recapture any of his glory days as a stud for the Titans and Eagles, or even be a shadow of his former self and have an impact with his new team. The Jaguars are one of the worst defensive (and offensive) teams in the NFL so I doubt it could hurt their chances. Chad Henne is pretty awful, and I don't think he merits a spotlight. Cecil Shorts, Maurice Jones-Drew and Rashad Jennings are all banged up and have not participated in practice this week; and I'm not sure who of those names suits up. Shorts is looking increasingly doubtful. Whoever winds up carrying the ball for Jacksonville is a player to watch as the Jets run defense is shaping up to be a big weakness this year. Justin Blackmon is a player with a lot of upside, I would keep an eye on him as well.
Jets X-factor: Tony Sparano and the RB Committee
The Jaguars can't defend much of anything. Statistically speaking, the Jets are recapturing their old place as an upper-tier rushing team with jumps in rankings every week. Sparano needs to call a balanced but grinding game that wears down the sub par Jags. Shonn Greene, Bilal Powell, and Joe McKnight all have the chance to have a field day. It will be a long time before such an opportunity for the team to reassert its dominance comes along again, this is an incredibly favorable match up for the Jets. The coaches MUST make the most of it and the offense must execute.
Bro's Bottom Line
There is no excusing a loss here, which would mean the end of the Jets season and implicates Gang Green as one of the worst teams in the league this year. I'm interested to see how the Jets fare because how they perform against this team should give us a much more clear idea of where the Jets stand in respect to the rest of the league. I'm choosing to be hopeful. I'm choosing to not give up on the season yet, even if that makes me the greater fool. That's what is so frustrating; as bad as everything has shook out, a late season run is entirely attainable for this team. Part of that is that the AFC has been terrible, and the other part is even at the teams very worst, the Jets have the ability to hang with almost all of them. This is the same team that the Texans and Patriots could barely put away. This is the same team that made improbable back to back AFCC appearances after other teams imploded in scenarios similar to this year. This is a top ranked pass defense with Darrelle Revis not even playing.
Yes, the Jets have played terribly. But just this once write off the media and our tendency to shoot ourselves in the foot. This is a game the Jets can and should win, and they need our support. Pull out the Green and White again. Show some pride. We are Jets fans. We have character, we don't take the easy way out and we aren't front runners. We're football fans of the highest caliber and every Pats and Packers and Lakers fan out there can do right ahead and take easy street. This is a championship team nearly 50 years in the making. You can sit around and mope and disparage people who will never hear your opinion, or you can support your team in a critical game. I choose to believe in the team and hope in turn that this week they give me something to believe in for the future.