Sunday, September 30, 2012

Gameday Deciding Factors: 49ers at Jets


Rex Ryan had nothing but praise this week for the New York Jets' Week 4 opponent in the San Francisco 49ers, and with good reason. San Francisco boasts arguably the best defense in the NFL and maybe the league's most balanced team across the board.

The Jets, on the other hand, aren't quite as easy to explain. Gang Green blew up the scoreboard in Week 1 but were brought down to earth in Week 2 before squeezing out a victory last week. New York lost the best cornerback in the league in Darrelle Revis to a season-ending injury ACL injury in Week 3, so his team will have to make some major adjustments on defense to compensate for the absence of the epicenter of what it does.

Deciding Factors:

Wilson Island. Kyle Wilson hasn't played the role of a first-round cornerback since being taken as Jets' top pick in the 2010 draft, but that's because he hasn't had to with Revis and Antonio Cromartie hogging up the depth chart. Now, Wilson gets his chance. He hasn't been great covering opposing pass-catchers in the slot, but maybe he finds his stride in more of a perimeter role. We'll find out in the next few weeks, starting with a stout San Fran receiving corps led by Michael Crabtree, Randy Moss and tight end Vernon Davis. (Photo: Marianne O'Leary, Flickr)

Run defense. The Jets' defense has been incredibly solid in run stoppage over the past three seasons under Ryan, but it's stunk so far in 2012. New York is giving up 148.7 yards a game on the ground, and it'll need to put an end to that, going up against Frank Gore. On the flip side, the Jets' struggling offensive backfield needs to establish some ground and pound of its own, and that won't be easy against a top-tier front seven.

Tight ends. Davis will be a headache for the Jets' defense, but Jets tight end Dustin Keller has the ability to return the favor. Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez will get back his favorite target in Keller this week, and Keller's return could be what restarts Gang Green's idling offense. With Stephen Hill out and Santonio Holmes likely to draw a lot of attention after a breakout game last week, Keller will get plenty of opportunities. As for Davis... Ryan admitted earlier this week that he's still trying to find an answer for how to attack who he considered the best tight end in the league.
A week in Jets posts:

Week 4 AFC East game picks: 49ers at Jets

Rex: 49ers have 7 Pro-Bowl caliber starters on D

Bush says Jets had it coming with Revis injury

Film Review: Sanchez vs. zone in 4th quarter, OT

Loss of Revis has look, feel of Jenkins injury in 2009

Fins' crunch-time decisions critical in loss to Jets