To preview this Sunday's game at LP Field against the New York Jets, I'm pleased to present the newest Q&A with Brian Johnson of Bloguin's Jets blog One Jet At A Time. Thanks to Brian, and check out One Jet for all your Jets coverage needs.
Total Titans: It was only five regular season weeks ago we had the last installment of Titans-Jets. Broadly speaking, how are the early 2013 Jets different from the late 2012 Jets we saw at LP Field on Monday Night Football last year?
One Jet At A Time: Very different. These Jets are younger and faster—the 'circus', the media has tried to portray the Jets to be, has left the town.
More technically speaking, the Jets defensive line has become fierce, adding a third first rounder in Sheldon Richardson, to create a foursome also including Mo Wilkerson, Quinton Coples, and (pleasant) surprise Damon 'Snacks' Harrison. Because of the bolstered line, and improved LB play, the Jets have been able to get pressure—racking up 8 sacks against Bills QB EJ Manuel, last week.
On the other side of the ball, QB Geno Smith leads a seemingly ragtag group. Outside of Santonio Holmes, who is still recovering from a lisfranc injury, the Jets have no big name WRs. That's the carry-over from '12, but not everything is a quick fix. The Jets did add TE Kellen Winslow Jr in the offseason, who could become a security blanket of sorts for Smith. Winslow has 10 receptions for 95 yards, through three games.
Total Titans: One of the changes for the Jets from last year is at quarterback, where second-round rookie Geno Smith is playing for the injured Mark Sanchez. What kind of quarterback is Smith at this point?
One Jet: Injury or not, I believe Smith was going to be the guy for 2013. With an organizational makeover, spotlighted by a change of GM, a new face behind center was needed. Smith, so far, has shown plenty of promise.
Smith has a big arm, and a downfield threat has helped open the running game up. He can also jet-ison (like that one?) balls out of his hand, something that he needs because he has a tendency to hold onto the ball to long. I'll call it a rookie waiting for the game to slow down for him, for now.
Geno Smith's accuracy has left something to be desired—3 TDs to 6 INTs—but he could also use greater support from his teammates. There were sparks against the Bills. One note: His turnovers never seem game-killing, though. Could just be an attribute of a strong defense, but they don't kill the 'hope' like Sanchez's did.
Total Titans: Another one of those changes is at running back, where Shonn Greene is now in Tennessee. The Rex Ryan Jets teams that went to the AFC Championship Games were known for their strong running games. How good is the Jets offensive line and the current backfield?
One Jet: The running game took a step forward by shedding Greene (sorry). Bilal Powell, a RB that doesn't even get his shine in our own fanbase, has 226 yards on 52 carries, this season, averaging 4.3 yards/carry. What Powell lacks in 'flashiness' he makes up for in consistency. The Jets' offseason acquisition in Chris Ivory has played well, but has been playing through (and now sidelined) with injury.
As far as the O-Line is concerned, the Jets have been up-and-down in run blocking and pass blocking. Some times you see a giant hole, or Geno being given 5 mins to throw, and other times it's a mess. With a changing of the guard, at both guard positions, there's some growing pains. According to Football Outsiders' methods, the Jets are 16th in run blocking.
Total Titans: The Jets drafted two players the Titans may have considered with their first-round pick in cornerback Dee Milliner and defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson. How have they started off their NFL careers?
One Jet: Richardson is in (very) early talks for Defensive Rookie of the Year. Benefiting from playing alongside his previously mentioned linemates, Sheldon Richardson has been a run-stopping machine and a productive pass rusher. Through three games, he has 18 total tackles and 1.5 sacks. Bleacher Report claims him to be the top overall rookie at the moment, but they also said the Jets made a terrible mistake by drafting him. Huh.
Dee Milliner, the higher picked draftee (9 vs. 13), has had a little rougher going to start the year. His skills are apparent and not so much the problem, but he has to settle down on the field. Most notably, Milliner was lost on who to cover on an early play versus the Patriots, Week 2, and New England scored a TD. It looks like he may be sitting out against your Titans, with a hamstring injury sustained in practice.
Total Titans: Is there anything I haven't asked you you'd like Titans fans to know about the Jets?
One Jet: The Jets will plan to stop Chris Johnson. They're the 6th best team in the NFL in run-stopping (YPG), a far cry from 2012's 26th ranked unit. The Titans will have to beat Gang Green through the air, as they will also respect Locker's running ability.
This may come down to which team makes that one big play on offense—too early to say if that team can be the Jets, but we shall see on Sunday.
Total Titans: Finally, if you'd like make a score or game prediction feel free, but I don't really care.
One Jet: I'd say 24-22 Jets, cause a this game has the makings of a close/wierd one. But whatever. ;)
Thanks again to Brian for participating in this week's Q&A. Don't forget to check out One Jet At a Time for lots of great Jets coverage.