Monday, January 11, 2010
J-E-T-S Jets! Jets! Jets!
The Jets looked great on Saturday in beating up the Bengals. Their defense completely discombobulated Carson Palmer and their run game controlled the clock and the line of scrimmage.
The Chargers should be worried that a pumped up team with a lot of momentum is coming into town. But isn't that the way the bye week works? While you're resting and getting healthy, whoever comes to town is getting early playoff experience and momentum.
The Bengals fell behind and had to throw the ball to catch up. Their creative blitzing front gave Carson Palmer fits. The Bengals didn't appear to have a short passing game to deal with the blitz. For the Chargers, Rivers, the offensive line, and the receivers have dealt with pressure and blitzing all season. The same strategy, if employed again by the Jets, simply won't work against San Diego. When the blitz comes, Rivers will check down and find the open guy.
The Jets have the number one rushing defense? Do the Chargers care about running the ball anyway? The run game is nothing more than a place setter for San Diego. The increased run production of late has more to do with the dominance of the passing game and running out the clock than much actual improvement.
Last weekend the dominant running and strong defensive teams (excepting the crazy Cards-Packers game) seemed to have the upper hand. This playoff season will put to the test the theory that a strong running game is a necessity. The Chargers will not try to pound the ball against the Jets 46 defense.
On the other side of the ball, the Jets will try to pound the ball against the Chargers. They need to protect rookie Mark Sanchez from making mistakes and probably (given the arrogant Rex Ryan) have convinced themselves the Chargers are "soft." New York will probably be able to move the ball in between the twenties. The question is, what happens in the red zone?
If the Chargers can hold up on the goal line when Brandon Siler and Tim Dobbins are in the game at the same time, sticking people on the goal line and forcing the Jets to kick some field goals, they will win the game.
Other keys to victory? On the offensive side of the ball, San Diego simply has to weather the early storm. Even though this is a road game, I'm guessing the Jets' defense will come out with extreme intensity, blitzes and general mad-dog craziness. If Rivers can come out and simply take what is given, not hold onto the ball too long (sacks/fumbles) and avoid throwing stupid picks, the Chargers can settle in and do what they do. If Rivers comes out early and tries to do too much? We all saw last weekend how an early mistake can set the tone for a whole game. If the Chargers come out and are forced to punt the first two series? That's actually a good sign.
I'll have more analysis before the game.