By Tyson Rauch

On Sunday, the New York Jets (5-5) face the Baltimore Ravens (4-6) in a game that has huge playoff implications. A win for Gang Green will keep the team in the playoff mix while a loss for Baltimore all but eliminates the Ravens from the post season.

On paper this has the potential to be a very physical, defensive battle that will put a tremendous amount of pressure on the quarterbacks. For the Ravens and Joe Flacco, this will be nothing new as the Baltimore quarterback has faced this situation many times over the past five seasons. As for the Jets, this is going to be a relatively new experience for rookie quarterback Geno Smith.

BALTIMORE, MD - NOVEMBER 10: Quarterback Joe Flacco #5 of the Baltimore Ravens throws a pass against the Cincinnati Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium on November 10, 2013 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

(Credit, Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Rookie struggles

Over the past five games, Geno Smith has really been struggling as he has only thrown one touchdown to eight interceptions. Smith’s struggles have been accentuated on the road, where his turnovers have taken his team out of the game by halftime. The rookie quarterback must find a way to make better decisions with the football and limit his turnovers.

Improved offensive line play

Geno Smith is not alone with his struggles, as the offensive line has faltered against physical defenses, especially on the road. Gang Green’s line must play at a much higher level, eliminating blown assignments and communication issues. The unit must match the intensity and physicality of the Baltimore front seven or they will be dominated in the trenches.

Wide receiver help

The New York Jets wide receivers and tight ends have to find ways to help their rookie quarterback. Whether that means running crisper routes or getting better separation from their defenders, the production has to improve from the pass catchers. The return of Santonio Holmes from injury should help the cause along with Kellen Winslow getting re-acclimated from his suspension. Unfortunately, wide receiver Jeremy Kerley is doubtful for Sunday, which takes away one of the Jets best receiving threats.

Geno can bounce back

The bottom line is that Geno Smith can have success on Sunday, but he will need help from his offensive line and receivers. The rookie needs some time in the pocket to go through his progressions and the receivers need to make plays for him. Then it will come down to Geno’s decision making where he will have to make much better calls with the football. The Jets signal caller will have to take what the defense gives him and use his legs when the pocket starts to collapse. This is the type of match-up where the game manager approach for Geno Smith could be beneficial to the Jets.


  • WR Jeremy Kerley (elbow)
  • LB Garret McIntyre (knee)


  • G Willie Colon (calf)
  • CB Antonio Cromartie (hip)
  • DT Kenrick Ellis (back)
  • QB David Garrard (knee)
  • WR Stephen Hill (knee)
  • WR Santonio Holmes (hamstring)
  • WR David Nelson (illness)
  • WR Greg Salas (finger)
  • TE Kellen Winslow (knee)

For more Jets news and updates, visit Jets Central.

Tyson Rauch is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on

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