Sept. 9, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan on the sidelines during the second quarter against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE
Last week the New York Jets put a big apple sized beating on what was suppose to be a much improved Buffalo Bills team. This week the Jets head to Heinz field to take on a more talented Pittsburgh Steelers team, looking to avenge their week one loss to the Denver Broncos. A great offensive performance, and week 1 victory bestowed upon Jets fans, is certain to become a distant memory if the Jets revert back to preseason mediocrity.
In their loss Sunday to Denver, the Pittsburgh defense was without starters James Harrison and Ryan Clark. Harrison remains questionable for Sunday’s game against the Jets but has stated to the media that he will play, look for Clark to come out strong in his season debut. The Pittsburgh secondary won’t be mistaken for that of the Buffalo Bills, and will test young receivers Stephen Hill and Jeremy Kerely. Sanchez and the Jets receivers will have to be on their game if they hope to reenact their performance from a week ago.
Even as an improved defense, the Bills are inferior to a Steelers defense that finished last season number 1 in the NFL. The Steelers play a physical style of defense and will send more pressure then Buffalo, with their pass rush and blitz packages. In week 1 the Bills couldn’t sniff Sanchez’s Jersey and much to the surprise of many, did not Blitz. Sunday at Heinz Field, Sanchez will need to be protected as he was last week but look for him to get a bit dirty.
The offensive line will have to play well Sunday if the Jets will have a chance of coming out victorious. The running game will have to be efficient to ensure clock control. Third down conversions will be essential to keeping possession and ensuring Big Ben and the explosive Pittsburgh receivers remain sidelined. Against the Broncos last week, the Steelers dominated time of possession. They controlled the ball for 10+ minutes longer than the Broncos; unfortunately for the Steelers the Broncos have a guy named of Peyton Manning that off set that lack of possession time.
Mark Sanchez showed confidence and control in week 1 but he certainly is not being put in the class of Peyton Manning. For the Jets to be successful Sunday they cannot give up 10 minutes in time of possession. The defense cannot afford to let the Steelers go on 10-14 play drives and eat up valuable clock. Sanchez will have to take care of the football and limit turnovers. Added possessions due to turnovers will handicap the Jets and make it tough to get a win.
The defense will play a much bigger role for the Jets this week. Sunday’s game looks to be a defensive battle and low scoring. The Jets defense will have to get stops on third down and keep Ben Roethlisberger from escaping the pocket to extend plays. The most important roll for the defense in week 2 is to force turnovers. As good as both defenses are, this game will be won on turnovers. The team that wins the turnover battle will have the best chance to come out victorious.
A win by the Jets Sunday will assuredly diminish the preseason and off season ridicule they have been subjected to. The Steelers are a formidable opponent that will give us better insight into where the Jets stack up in the AFC. In the next six weeks the Jets face four teams that are legitimate Super Bowl contenders (Pittsburgh, Houston, San Francisco, New England). Rex Ryan and the Jets have one goal in mind for this season… Get to and Win a Super Bowl championship. Beginning Sunday, the Jets will begin a six game stint where they will show if their goal is Reality or Wishful Thinking.