By Tyson Rauch
The New York Jets (1-0) enter Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers (0-1) as huge underdogs with some experts predicting a blowout. The feeling amongst many is that Aaron Rodgers and company will light up the Jets secondary leaving Geno Smith and the New York offense in the dust. Well, contrary to popular belief, this is a winnable game for Gang Green and it all starts with the Jets running game.
Ground and pound
The Green Bay Packers’ defense is coming off of a performance where they yielded 207 rushing yards to the Seattle Seahawks. The New York Jets rushed for 212 yards against the Oakland Raiders last Sunday. Notice something here? The Packers are obviously a better team than the Raiders, but their run defense is a weakness that can be taken advantage of.
Look for New York to try and establish their running game featuring the one-two punch of Chris Johnson and Chris Ivory. The goal will be to put together productive, time consuming drives that will wear down the Green Bay defense while keeping Aaron Rodgers off of the field. In addition, an effective running game will slow down the Packers pass rush which will free up some pass plays down the field.
Get after Rodgers
It is no secret that Aaron Rodgers is going to try and dissect the New York Jets revamped secondary, including Antonio Allen who makes his second NFL start at cornerback. The Jets defense must find ways to generate consistent pressure on the Green Bay quarterback without selling their souls in blitz packages. Big time performances are needed out of linebackers Quinton Coples, Jason Babin, and Calvin Pace.
Consistent secondary play
The New York secondary will be tested early and often by the Green Bay offense. The Jets cornerbacks and safeties must remain composed and avoid mental mistakes in terms of communication. In addition, New York’s defensive backfield has to prevent excessive yards after the catch, something that they were very effective doing last week against the Raiders. This could be the type of game where rookie safety Calvin Pryor can become an enforcer in the secondary with his big hitting prowess.
Keys to victory
The New York Jets are in a tough spot as they are facing a talented team that is coming off of an awful loss in their home opener. New York will need a full team effort from their offense, defense, and special teams to secure a victory. Gang Green cannot afford to play sloppy, undisciplined football if they want to come away with a victory on Lambeau field.
The Jets best chance to win is with a tough, physical style of play on both sides of the football. On offense Gang Green must control the clock with their running game and cannot settle for field goals at the end of quality drives. New York must take advantage of red zone opportunities, something that the team failed to do against the Raiders. Lastly, Geno Smith has to play at a very high level and cannot be scared to take some chances in the passing game.
On defense it all comes down to the secondary’s ability to limit big plays in the passing game. The unit will obviously give up some completions, but they must prevent big play strikes and huge yardage after the catch. The less time the front seven gives Rodgers, the better off the entire unit will be.
Not mission impossible
The New York Jets have the talent, ability, and blueprint to shock the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. Now, it is up to Rex Ryan and his team to get it done.
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Tyson Rauch is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.