For the most part, the New York Jets look every bit as bad today as advertised entering the season.
After falling to 0-2 out west in a 45-20 loss against the Oakland Raiders, at least Gang Green gets to go home to host the AFC East rival Miami Dolphins (1-0). Perhaps a familiar foe will offer them a chance to put a win on their ledger before 0-16 whispers become dogged reminders of what may be on the horizon.
Here are three keys to the matchup at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.
The Jets pass rush has yet to leave the gate. Their two sacks as a team are last among the 30 teams who’ve played two games this season. Neither of the QB stops were credited to defensive linemen.
It’s time for Leonard Williams and Muhammad Wilkerson, both former Pro Bowl selections, to get it together and penetrate a substandard Miami offensive line before quarterback Jay Cutler finds his usual groove when facing the Jets (97.1 passer rating in three games).
This goes hand in hand with the Jets’ D-line raising its game, but the defense as a whole cannot allow Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi to go off on them.
Ajayi can be inconsistent, but his big games often are huge. Last week’s 122 yards on 28 carries in a 19-17 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers were pretty tremendous. That’s the kind of day that could sink Gang Green, and coach Todd Bowles must make containing the running back a top priority.
Lean on Kearse
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Therefore, quarterback Josh McCown should continue to lean on the hot hand in receiver Jermaine Kearse. Through two games, he has made 11 receptions for 123 yards and two touchdowns. Not bad for a guy who joined the team a less than a month ago.
While other options exist, including tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins returning from suspension, few have displayed much chemisty with the veteran McCown.