The Jets now travel to Tennessee to take on the Titans this Sunday in what’s being dubbed by some as the ‘Mariota Bowl’. Both teams come into this game with a 2-11 record. This week’s matchup has heavy draft implications, as both the Titans and Jets find themselves in a five-way tie for last place in the league standings. However, stakes are still high as Geno Smith and Jake Locker are fighting to show their worth before the conclusion of the season.
The NFL is a ‘what have you done lately’ league and both of these young starting quarterbacks have been up and down in their combined 14 starts this season. The quarterback position is the most highly scrutinized roster spot in the league and with a combined two wins on the season; neither of these young gunslingers look like long-term solutions for their franchises.
With three games left before the season is over, there are still a few unanswered questions that need to be resolved:
1.Will Michael Vick and Percy Harvin be re-signed to new contracts?
2.Will Rex Ryan and John Idzick be back on board for another season?
3.Will this finally be the year that Geno Smith’s replacement will be acquired through the draft or free agency?
Only time will tell for the issues at hand, one thing is for sure though, the Jets are determined to get their third win of the year as this season’s hour glass is quickly running out of sand.
WHEN: Sunday, December 14 @ 4:05 PM EST. (T.V.-CBS, Radio-ESPN)
WHERE: LP Field, Nashville, Tennessee
JETS - S Antonio Allen (hand) Questionable, WR Percy Harvin (ankle) Questionable, DE Muhammad Wilkerson (toe) Doubtful, TE Jace Amaro (concussion) Probable, G Willie Colon (knee) Probable, K Nick Folk (right hip) Probable, RB Chris Johnson (knee) Probable, LB Trevor Reilly (concussion) Probable.
TITANS - T Tyler Lewan (ankle) Doubtful, QB Zack Mettenberger (right shoulder) OUT, T Michael Oher (toe) Doubtful, S Daimion Stafford (concussion) Questionable, LB Kamerion Wimbley (hamstring) Questionable, S Michael Griffin (back) Questionable, T Byron Stingily (ankle) Questionable, WR Kendall Wright (hand) Questionable.
KEYS TO THE GAME
Limiting Locker’s Mobility will be huge this week as the 4th year quarterback has rushed for 135 yards and a touchdown on only 20 attempts this season. Locker is known more for his ability to pick up chunks of yardage with his legs than with his arm. At 6’3’’ and 225 Ibs. Locker is hard to bring down, so the Jets front seven will have their hands full this Sunday even though the Titans offensive line is one of the worst in the league.
Geno’s Progression as a Starter is something to keep an eye on this week as the offense looks to make up for their poor performance against Minnesota in week 14. The Jets have slowly transitioned out of the run heavy game plans of weeks past. Last week Geno Smith threw the ball 29 times in contrast to his 13 attempts against Miami in week 13. The offense should fire on all cylinders come Sunday as they face a Titans defense that ranks worst in the league against the run and in points allowed.
Jobs are on the line this week within the Jets organization. A solid performance by Geno Smith could assure that the team will be unable to draft Marcus Mariota in the 2015 NFL Draft (barring a trade-up). Another 100-plus yard performance from Percy Harvin could bring on pressure to re-sign the talented wide receiver to a multi-year extension. It’s interesting to point out that Rex Ryan has kept Harvin under control and out of the lime light since the team traded for him. Both Harvin and Ryan seem to disagree on the matter of his playing status this week.
Percy was quoted on Wednesday saying, “I definitely think I’ll be playing this week.” While Rex stated “It will probably be a stretch for this week.” Ryan and Harvin seem to not be on the same page with this one, something that’s rarely happened since Harvins arrival in New York.
The former Titans running back is back in Nashville this week looking to show up the organization that let him walk this past off-season. However, Johnson doesn’t want to take things too personally, “I am worried about more of what is going on here, rather than me vs. Tennessee.” The former first round pick out of ECU should have another stellar performance this week against a Titans defense that allows 142 rushing yards per game (worst in the NFL). Look for Johnson to mirror his performance against Miami two weeks ago, where he broke the 100 rushing yard plateau for the first time this season.
Titans Offensive Line
Tennessee’s offensive line has given up 41 sacks on the year. At a rate of 3.15 sacks per game Tenessee’s offensive line is one of the worst units in the league right now. The problem is they’re only getting worse as starters Michael Oher and Tyler Lewan are both question marks this Sunday.
Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt had this to say about the two starting tackles during yesterday’s press conference “I don’t have much more information today. We’ll see how it progresses during the week. We’ll have somebody out there.” That uncertainty isn’t a sign of optimism for the Titans who desperately need both of their starting offensive tackles to get healthy in a hurry.
The Titan’s Depleted Secondary is a major concern come Sunday. Blidi Wreh-Wilson has been placed on injured reserve, which leaves Cody Sensabaugh to start in his absence. “We’re going to have a number of different guys in there, which kind of seems to be the theme for our team right now,” said Whisenhunt on Wednesday. This team is short on corners right now, so expect Geno Smith and the Jets receivers to go after the inexperienced group early and often.
Delanie Walker might just present the biggest problem for the Jets defense this week. That star Tight End leads the team in receiving with 700 yards on 48 receptions on the year. If the Jets can slow down Walker, they have a great chance to leave Nashville with their third win of the season.
GAME PREDICTIONJets win 28-13