I’ve been majorly slacking in my sports writing (for no good reason), and my poker writing (because I just haven’t had the time to play). Time to put a stop to that! First up, some brief thoughts of what the Jets need to do to beat a desperate Titans team this weekend:
At 0-2, Tennessee needs a win badly unless they want to face a steep climb to the playoffs. It would be a huge mistake to take the Titans lightly because of their record; they’ve lost the two games by a combined six points, and it’s hard to believe a secondary with three 2008 Pro Bowlers will continue to get torched like this. I expect them to come out and play like caged animals. Making matters worse, DB’s Lito Sheppard and Donald Strickland will both miss the game…though I suspect Rex Ryan is cagily holding them back for next week’s showdown in New Orleans against the high-octane Saints’ passing game; Tennessee is less likely to take advantage of injuries in the secondary. We need them 100% for that matchup.
Luckily, Ryan doesn’t strike me as the sort of coach to allow for a let-down. I expect the Jets to be fired up again. Three keys to winning:
1) Contain Chris Johnson. Run-blitzes can be effective if we don’t overpursue and let the blazing Johnson get free in space. I’d think Ryan will shrug if Kerry Collins beats the Jets…it’s all about stopping the running game. It’s an interesting test for a defense that’s been dominant so far; this is the first true running team we’ve faced so far.
2) Throw on 1st and 2nd downs. The Titans have a very stingy run-defense, and as mentioned, they’ve been getting lit up through the air (though I’d expect that to tighten up significantly). Still, you can’t just relentlessly pound the ball on 1st and 2nd downs and put Mark Sanchez in 3rd and longs again; that plays right into a veteran defense’s hands. Sanchez has yet to look even slightly phased, and has responded very well to mistakes and adversity. I’d like to see them attack Tennessee with a mix of short slants and long throws and use the run to keep them honest.
3) Don’t let up. Kerry Collins isn’t a terrible player, but he’s not mobile and can be prone to mistakes (though the Titans have a first-rate offensive line protecting him). Additionally, Tennessee isn’t exactly packed with WR/TE threats, and with Collins’ slow release, the Jets’ relentless pressure should lead to some sacks/turnovers. That could give the Jets some much-needed field position.
Prediction: Jets 20, Titans 17. This game scares me, but I’m beginning to believe the Jets are for REAL. A loss wouldn’t surprise me at all, though. The Titans are an excellent team despite their record. I’ll be at the game, so a report will follow!