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Jets vs. Panthers: Time to Open the Offense Up?

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

With a rookie quarterback, the tendency is to want to scale the offense back. The Jets recently got very simplistic on offense during Geno Smith's slump. Against the Carolina Panthers this Sunday, it might be time to open things up.

Part of the reasoning is simply the Jets' receiving corps is getting healthy. While still not a very good group by NFL standards, a healthy corps of targets at least gives Geno Smith a fighting chance. Geno had his most productive game in a month and a half last weekend, and it was likely in part due to having credible threats going out on patterns.

More than that, making big plays in the passing game is the way to beat the Panthers. Like the Jets, Carolina has an extremely stingy run defense. When they have been beaten, it has been the result of big plays in the passing game. The three highest passing totals the Carolina defense has allowed this season happened to come in three of their four losses. Teams were not running it effectively to set up the pass either. In two of those three games, the Panthers' excellent run defense allowed less rushing yards than its average.

Opening things up on offense comes with risks. The Jets are not very talented at receiver. They have a mistake-prone quarterback, and Carolina has guys up front who can get after the passer. It could be the recipe for a blowout loss, but taking chances to try and make big plays in the passing game might be the only possible recipe for an upset win. The Jets are undermanned and probably cannot line up man on man against the Panthers. Big chunk gains can be an equalizer.