Fun fact: the New York Jets were originally known as the New York Titans and were a founding member of the American Football Conference. The team was founded in 1959 but after the team was purchased in 1963 by a new owner the name was changed to the current name of New York Jets. The AFL and the NFL merged in 1970.
Another interesting but sad fact: Jets linebacker Demario Davis was first cousins with former Titans great Steve McNair who was tragically killed on July 4, 2009.
The New York Jets travel to Nashville to take on the Tennessee Titans Sunday in a rematch of sorts of last year’s Monday Night Football game. Both teams have undergone a remake of sorts so this year’s game should be very interesting. The Oilers/Titans lead the series 17-23-1.
The Jets defense has rebounded from a rather disappointing 2012 and is the top 3 overall defense in the league. Led by defensive lineman Muhammad “Mo” Wilkerson, the Jets front line has recorded 12 sacks and are 3rd in the league in number of sacks and total number of yards allowed (270 per game avg). The Jets defense is 7th in the league in scoring at 16.7. Formers Titans Leger Douzable and Scott Solomon are part of the Jets defense.
The Titans offense is led by third year quarterback Jake Locker who has looked solid through 3 games. Locker is a mobile quarterback who can make plays with his arms and legs. He is 51 of 87 for 572 yards and 3 touchdowns on the season passing and has rushed 12 times for 81 yards and a touchdown.
Mo Wilkinson leads the Jets in sacks with 3 and rookie defensive end Sheldon Richardson is right behind him at 1.5. The Jets defensive line with face off against two good tackles in Titans Michael Roos and David Stewart. Stewart who is banged up right now will face Wilkinson while Richardson will face off against Roos. These should be an excellent to matchups to watch as Stewart is the brawler of the group while Roos is more a finesse guy. Both will have their hands full.
Locker is 4-9 against the 3-4 defense (I included 3-4 hybrids like the 2012 Colts and New England Patriots). He hasn’t throw a lot this year since the Titans returned to a run first offense but he has been largely effective. Nate Washington and Kendall Wright have been his favorite targets with tight end Delanie Walker third in looks. Walker is questionable for Sunday with a toe injury.
Look for Locker to throw at Jets cornerbacks Kyle Wilson and 3rd year man Darrin Walls who will fill in for rookie Dee Milliner who is out with hamstring. Antonio Cromartie is probable but should play and it will be interesting to see who he is assigned to cover. Kenny Britt has been completely ineffective this year so you would think they would have him focused elsewhere. The Jets have been known to move their defensive backs around.
If Delanie Walker is a go, he will face a very talented linebacker group. Demario Davis leads the Jets in tackles and total defense and linebacker Calvin Pace is still decent in coverage. Safety Anthony Allen has struggled in coverage this year. Safety Dawan Landry has 1 interception on the season. The Titans currently rank 30th in the league in passing yards and are averaging only 176 yards per game. The Jets rank 7th in pass defense and are allowing 190.3 yards per game.
The Jets are 6th in the league in rushing yards at 79.7 per game so look for the Titans to two 2 tight end sets regardless of Delanie Walker’s status. I would expect you will see more Jackie Battle this game so assist in picking up the blitz and helping out in pass coverage, an area that is not Chris Johnson’s forte.
I would hope the Titans would try to use Johnson more in space this game to help soften up the defense. This game will be a big test of guards Andy Levitre and Chance Warmack who have struggled in pass protection but generally been good in the run game. The Titans are 6th in the league, tied with the Jets no less, in rushing and are averaging 133.7 rushing yards per game.
The Jets will start rookie quarterback Geno Smith who has generally played well for a rookie. The Jets are averaging 244.7 passing yards per game which is 17th in the league. Smith has throw 3 touchdowns but he has also thrown 6 interceptions. The Titans must pressure the young quarterback into making mistakes.
The Titans defensive line is led by defensive tackle Jurrell Casey who is a disrupter in the middle and has 2 sacks on the year. Defensive end Derrick Morgan also has 2 sacks as does blitzing linebacker Zach Brown. The Titans need these playmakers to get after Smith and disrupt his rhythm.
Smith’s favorite target is wide receiver Stephen Hill and he will likely face Titans cornerback Jason McCourty who is ranked as one of the best young cornerbacks in the league. Right behind Hill is wide receiver Santonio Holmes who is dealing with a foot injury but should play. He will face off against right cornerback Alterraun Verner who is having an exceptional year after beating out (again) competition in training camp. Verner has 2 interceptions on the year.
Middle linebacker Moise Fokou has struggled this year and will likely be called upon to defend mercurial tight end Kellen Winslow, Jr. After a big game in Week 1, Winslow has been rather quiet. Let’s hope the Titans keep it that way. Safety George Wilson was called upon to help cover the middle in Week 3 against the Chargers and did an excellent job so look for the Titans to use their 3 safety package again this week. Linebacker Akeem Ayers has been somewhat limited with an ankle but seems close to full strength. He can line up at DE as well so he is a guy to keep an eye upon too.
Don’t look for a rematch of last year’s Monday Night snoozefest as both these teams are looking much improved. This should be a good matchup and a big test of what each team does best. Here’s to a good game with no major injuries.
Jets 21 Titans 28