NFL Week 1 football. The moment we have all been waiting for.
As the New York Jets prepare to take the field against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, an insurmountable amount of attention is focused on this game, probably the most media attention ever for an opening day game featuring two teams with a losing record in the previous season. For starters, the New York Jet will start the season with rookie QB Geno Smith in the starting lineup due to an injury to incumbent quarterback Mark Sanchez. The former Mountaineer will lead the Jets’ offense with a lack of weapons surrounding him. Aside from Santonio Holmes, who will be used in an extremely limited role on Sunday, the receivers Geno Smith has to throw to have combined for jut 1,636 receiving yards in all of there careers. To put that into perspective, Calvin Johnson alone had 328 more yards in just last season, let alone his career. Together, Jeremy Kerley, Stephen Hill, Clyde Gates, and Ryan Spadola (R) have played 67 NFL games, and have averaged just 1.85 receptions per game. However, for a young, criticized, and occasionally inaccurate quarterback in his first career start, more experience at the wide receiver position would be desirable. Will Geno Smith shine in his debut despite his lack of weapons?
Another top story that has been discussed thoroughly throughout the sports media is that it is Darrelle Revis’ first career game in which he is not wearing a Jets uniform; instead, he will be counted on to defend his former team. Back when Darrelle Revis was a member of Gang Green, he led the Jets’ defense and helped carry them to two consecutive AFC Conference Championship Game appearances. Back in the present, however, Revis is doing anything but helping the New York Jets. ESPN and other media sources reported that Revis has been sharing some of the Jets’ defensive strategies and schemes with Greg Schiano and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
I know these guys. I played against them every day in practice. So I’ve got a bunch of tips on those guys. And the good thing about it, I’ve been sharing them in our secondary… We will come into this game real comfortable. We really will, just from the experience I had there and knowing these guys.”
Now that Revis has ‘spilled the beans’ to his new teammates, defending the Jets should be much easier, or so they think. When Revis was last with the Jets, their offensive coordinator was Tony Sparano. However, one offseason later and that offense is now being led by Marty Mornhinweg. Perhaps a new offensive coordinator will mean a new look for the Jets, and perhaps not. While the Bucs’ secondary is happy to get all the information they can get, one has to wonder if any of it will be relevant in their season opener.
KEY TO A NEW YORK JETS VICTORY
Yes, it is possible that the Jets start the season off with a win. While it is very possible that the Jets’ defense hold the Buccaneers to 21 points or less, the bigger question is whether or not the Jets will score even close to that many points. And this dilemma has a very simple solution: blocking. With Bilal Powell getting the start at running back, he will need sizeable holes to explode into the secondary. Because Bilal Powell is more of a power back instead of a speed back, the offensive line will have to hold their blocks longer to allow him to break through. And the Jets’ number 2, Chris Ivory, is a very similar style back as Bilal Powell and will require the same extended blocking. If the offensive line, led by veterans Nick Mangold and D’Brickishaw Ferguson, can provide the blocking the tailbacks need, then the Jets will be able to explode past Lavonte David and the Bucs’ front 7.
However, even more important than run blocking is pass blocking. Geno Smith is a young quarterback who can be very talented at times, although when he is under pressure Geno Smith struggles. The Jets’ offensive line will have to give Geno Smith time to work through his progressions and find the open receiver. The Buccaneers pass rush is not to be taken lightly, and Gerald McCoy will be quite the challenge for left guard Vladimir Ducasse. Ducasse has been a disappointment for the Jets after being drafted in the 2nd round of the 2010 draft, and now that he has switched from tackle to guard Ducasse will have to learn a whole new position. Vladimir Ducasse will start his 2nd career game on Sunday, and it is unfortunate that he has to go up against a young talent in McCoy.
However, if Ducasse and the rest of the Jets’ offensive line can pull together and block consistently well all game, the Jets just might pull out the victory.