Nobody expected both the Jets and Tennessee Titans to have winning records heading into this Sunday’s game. The teams are off to a surprising start though, mostly due to their ability to each do one thing extremely well.
Preview: Jets and Titans Battle in a Matchup of Surprising Teams
The Jets and Titans are both off to unexpected 2-1 starts
By Neil Bisman
The Jets defense must lead the way against the Tennessee Titans in a matchup of surprising teams. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
The Titans have found success this season by playing safe football. Tennessee runs the ball a ton and has been grinding out long drives, shortening the game by eating valuable time up off the clock.
Speedster Chris Johnson hasn’t broken off big runs like he has in the past but he’s been a workhorse running back, totaling the second most rushing attempts in the league.
Johnson is yet to fumble and quarterback Jake Locker has not thrown an interception after averaging one per game in 11 starts last season. Along with the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs, the Titans are one of just two teams who haven’t turned the ball over through the first three games.
It will be interesting to see how Tennessee is able to execute their game plan against a team that specializes in getting opposing offenses off the field quickly.
No team has allowed shorter drives or fewer first downs than Gang Green. The Jets defense also ranks third in rushing yards per attempt and quarterback sacks.
Rookie defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson has played a huge role in the team’s defensive efforts but whether or not he’ll play Sunday remains to be seen. He missed practice this week with an injured shoulder and is listed as questionable.
As good as the defensive players have been, they haven't been able to create turnovers; intercepting only one pass while forcing five fumbles but recovering just one. A team that defends as well as the Jets is bound to have their luck change and it is just a matter of time before they start forcing more mistakes out of the opposition.
Unlike the defense, the Jets have been a turnover machine on offense. Their eight turnovers rank near the bottom of the league.
Despite his two interceptions in last week’s 27-20 victory over the Buffalo Bills, quarterback Geno Smith played his best game as a pro. He looked confident throwing downfield and had 331 yards passing and two touchdowns on the day.
Smith was aided greatly by huge performances from running back Bilal Powell and receiver Santonio Holmes and their emergence could not have come at a better time.
Powell will get another chance to shine this week as fellow running back Chris Ivory will not play due to a hamstring injury. The veteran Holmes needs to continue to produce for an offense that has few dependable options.
The welcomed offensive surge helped to negate a franchise record 20 penalties for 163 yards. Coach Rex Ryan had the teams do pushups this week in practice each time a penalty was committed to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
If the Jets have indeed corrected their penalty issues and can prove the offense is not a one week wonder, their defense could be what propels them to victory once again.
Gang Green is more than capable of winning this game. As the weeks go by, that’s becoming less of a surprise and more of a reality.