It’s a short week and a long road trip north to face a division rival. No problem for the New York Jets and their rookie signal-caller fresh off an 18-17 victory in Week 1 against the Tampa Bay Bucs at MetLife Stadium… right? The New England Patriots await Geno and the Gang in Foxboro for a Thursday Night showdown under the lights. Less time to prepare, bright lights of a national television game, rookie QB & embattled coach on your sideline, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick on their sideline… nooooo problem!
Geno Smith won’t have Jeremy Kerley, as he’s recovering from a concussion suffered in last week’s contest. Jeff Cumberland, who also left the field shaken up against the Bucs, should start and play a significant number of snaps after getting the gash to his chin treated. Santonio Holmes should see more playing time as he continues managing his ailing foot, while Kellen Winslow Jr. has a tender knee. Both should be available targets for Geno, as well as Stephen Hill and Clyde Gates. The running game needs to show up, and cannot be led by Geno’s 47 yards on six attempts (Powell had 29 yards & Ivory had 15 yards). Geno’s confidence is a good thing, but he needs to manage this offense with the short passing game and timely runs. He’ll have some chances downfield, especially against a team with a weaker secondary, but shortening this game will be one of the keys to victory for the Green & White.
Kenrick Ellis is still managing a bad back, but he should see the field Thursday alongside Mo Wilkerson. Don’t be surprised to see Damon Harrison in on a ton of snaps for Gang Green; he played well during the preseason and it’s paying dividends early in 2013. The defense obviously misses a player with the skillset of a Quinton Coples, but standouts like Demario Davis and David Harris are taking the edge off the sting with solid play. The Revis-less secondary, which some feel is doomed to fail, looked more than adequate against Josh Freeman and the struggling Bucs passing game. Dawan Landry (INT) brings some pop, as well as the ability to play centerfield and take advantage of the occasional errant pass. Effective pressure on Brady, solid tackling, and discipline in the secondary will give the Jets a chance against New England.
Very few are giving the Jets a shot to win this game; some think it won’t be close at all, which I disagree with. I’m not saying the Jets will start 2-0, but imagine if they did: A 2-0 Jets team would be one-up on the Patriots, and lead the AFC East. With the Buffalo Bills losing and the Miami Dolphins struggling in Week 1, a win puts them in the driver’s seat for the division early… a place no one could imagine just a few days ago. Though I can imagine the Jets winning an intense late-night road showdown with the Patriots, it’ll be a tough one to pull out against a team hell-bent on crushing Rex and the Jets. New England should win a close game, and it won’t be as bad as some think (or remember). The last time the Jets faced the Patriots on a Thursday night, Mark Sanchez was the starting QB and Brandon Moore started at right guard.
-Joseph Haas Editor, HCoftheNYJ.com