Welcome back my friends and foes to an all new season of Jets football. I am the artist currently known as Bro Namath and for a few years now I've had the esteemed privilege of bringing you pregame breakdowns of our beloved Jets and their opponents.
We enter the year with a new QB controversy so to speak, and some of the lowest expectations ever for a single season of football for a team many consider to be in the initial stages of rebuilding. A young signal caller will take the helm in a trial by fire and countless questions about who both of these teams are will be answered in the early Sunday game. Adding to the drama is the story line that has been coming to a boil for months; the Jets former cornerstone player has been traded...to the teams week 1 opponent. And, wouldn't you know it? He's ready to go for the season opener against our rookie quarterback. Shucks.
The Jets have a fairly brutal schedule this year and will need to show something against Tampa Bay, win or lose. If the Jets struggle a great deal against the Buccaneers it will be indicative of a very long and painful season to come. As it stands the Jets are a collection of young unproven guys, bargain bin vets, and failed projects. A few of these guys will have to step up and be studs if this season is going to be anything. On the flip side, there is a new OC and control of the team has been wrestled away from overpaid veterans who were not getting the job done. It's a new era, and with growing pains will come advances.
Where Each Team Is
The Buccaneers have done everything they can to buy themselves a team this offseason. The Bucs added our very own Darrelle Revis via trade and Dashon Goldson through free agency among many other names. The team also saw the departure of several pieces of their embattled secondary as Ronde Barber retried, Eric Wright was restructured and eventually cut, and others left via free agency. Goldson and Revis will be the bedrocks of a new untested secondary backing up a very formidable run defense. The Buccaneers will still have to do everything right and catch a few breaks on top of that to compete in the brutal NFC South.
The Jets roster is essentially a series of question marks, and Nick Mangold. The team got substantially younger and several players were cut or left through free agency. The secondary will likely remain strong as it performed consistently at the top of the league last year without Revis. Expectations are universally low, almost all analysts and media followers alike rank the Jets as a bottom five team.
Sister Site: Bucs Nation
Location: Metlife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ.
Field: Open air, artificial turf.
Coverage: FOX. DirectTV 713. Sirius XM 128.
Weather: Partly sunny with a 40% chance of showers, high of 81.
Record: Jets dominate the all-time series, 9-1.
What happened last time? Jets thrashed the Bucs 26-3.
Who is favored? Buccaneers by 3.5.
(Players designated "Probable" status are omitted)
Out: Mark Sanchez (QB) Shoulder, Quinton Coples (DE) Ankle. Questionable: Kenrick Ellis (DT) Back, Santonio Holmes (WR) Foot.
Out: Tom Crabtree (TE) Ankle, Carl Nicks (G) Foot. Doubtful: Rashaan Melvin (CB) Hamstring. Questionable: Mike James (RB) Eye, Erik Lorig (RB) Calf.
No rankings have been compiled because the season hasn't started yet, dummy. Last year the jets were the #2 passing defense in the entire league. The Buccaneers were the top ranked rushing defense in the universe. They will crush you like little bug.
Attacking the Buccaneers
Unfortunately running it down the Bucs throats really isn't an option. The Buccaneers and the Jets both have defensive lines that will continue to dominate at the point of attack. This means that rookie Geno Smith will have to win the game, not just manage it. Compounding the problem is his young unproven receiver set and an offensive line with new faces on it. I expect the Jets defense to do an ample job containing an improving Bucs offense, but the Jets will not win this game unless their QB delivers.
Jets X-Factor: Dee Milliner
At this point in his career I trust Antonio Cromartie to be consistent in coverage, he did a fantastic job leading the secondary last year after Revis went down. Kyle Wilson has weaknesses that other teams can and have exploited, however as a second or third cornerback he has proven capable and was a big part of the second best ranked passing defense last season. The Jets will likely throw everything they have and a bag of chips at the Bucs powerful rushing offense, so the secondary will have to play a tight game when they do call on Josh Freeman to pass. Enter Milliner. The rookie DB played capably in the preseason, now the Jets will need him to step up in the regular season if they are to win the tight games.
Buccaneer(s) to Watch: Darrelle Revis and Doug Martin
Revis goes without saying. Our former star player facing against the team in week 1 would be the only storyline if it wasn't for Geno Smith supplanting Mark Sanchez at QB, perhaps more due to circumstances than skill. The entire sports media will be keeping tabs on how Revis plays in his first game back from a debilitating injury. Even more important will be how he performs against the team that sent him packing and if he can possibly earn a 16 million dollar a year contract. If you are a sports fan, this is the player to watch this weekend.
Doug Martin is the Buccaneers lead running back and one of the most coveted fantasy players of the 2013-14 football season. The Jets chances at winning this weekend are very much dependent on the Jets defense shutting Martin and the running game down. If Martin cannot be stopped, it will be a very long game (and season)
Bro's Bottom Line
I could really see this one going either way. I'm not just talking about the game on Sunday, I'm talking about the entire season. There are a lot of unproven guys on the Jets who could either have a breakout season when they are needed the most, or they could crash and burn with the whole franchise. There is no single position more important and critical than Quarterback, and the Jets success hinges almost entirely on the young shoulders of Geno Smith. I cannot say for sure whether or not Geno will be the answer or even a band aid at QB, but Sunday will be the first step towards figuring it out. A team with a powerful defense like the Jets would be a truly dangerous thing with a capable passer at the helm of the offense. Alternatively, if Geno under-performs the teams record will be a nightmare. At times this season will hurt no matter what way you cut it, but with low expectations comes high potential for upsets and to surprise some of the experts.