RB Maurice Jones-Drew vs. Jets defense
With the untested Luke McCown behind center for the Jaguars, look for them to rely heavily on their running game and for Jones-Drew to get a high number of carries. According to Pro Football Focus, the Jaguars ran on 65% of their snaps last week. Jets ILB David Harris remains questionable for today’s game, and while his status may have an effect on the Jets’ run defense, I expect them to hold strong.
QB Mark Sanchez vs. himself
Hopefully, Santonio Holmes (Questionable) and Plaxico Burress (Probable) will both start today, giving Sanchez all of his available weapons as he plays against a weak Jaguars secondary. This game will be a chance for Sanchez to settle down in the first quarter and take the Jets to an early lead.
As Kevin Armstrong pointed out in the New York Daily News, the Jets have not scored a first-quarter touchdown in 16 games, which is worrisome, to say the least. Their last one came against the Bills in a Week 4 matchup last year. While it’s heartening to see Sanchez excel when he takes control of the no-huddle, shotgun-heavy offense, as he did late in the game against the Cowboys, it’ll be good to see Schottenheimer’s early game plan click for once.
Will Mercedes Lewis Play?
One of the major weaknesses of the Jets defense is the difficulty they have covering tight ends running short routes. Currently, TE Mercedes Lewis is listed as doubtful to play. If he doesn’t start, I’m sure Mike Pettine will be breathing a sigh of relief on every Jets defensive down. If he plays, watch for him to be a regular target when the Jaguars take to the air.
RB Shonn Greene vs. RB LaDanian Tomlinson
Though the Jets only had 15 carries against the Cowboys, Shonn Greene had the bulk of them, running 10 times for a grand total of 26 yards—not exactly the numbers you’d want to see from a future top back. While he only picked up 16 rushing yards last week, Tomlinson again proved his versatility, leading the team in passing yards with 73. While the running game may once again be scaled back due to the Jaguars’ defensive strengths, the battle between these two backs will still be worth paying attention to. If Tomlinson is to remain healthy late into the season, Greene will need to start picking up major gains soon.
Jets Offensive Line
Once again, the line remains the key weak point in the Jets offense. Without DeMarcus Ware running past them, the line, and Wayne Hunter in particular, will likely have a better time holding back the Jaguars than they did the Cowboys. Even so, they’ll need to improve on last week’s performance if they want to give Sanchez the time he’ll need.