Breaking Down the Jets vs the Chiefs
The Jets come home licking their wounds after a non-effort loss to the lowly Oakland Raiders. 3 weeks removed from the explosion against the Cardinals, the Jets are still searching for answers as to what type of team they are and can be. Luckily for the Jets they find bumbling, stumbling, inept Kansas City Chiefs, led by former Jets head coach Herman Edwards, crawling their way into the Meadowlands this Sunday. The Chiefs are hoping to lose the label of being the worst team in the AFC by escaping with a win on Sunday.
Chiefs Offense vs. Jets Defense
Kansas City is going through a carousel of quarterbacks in 2008. The team just lost Brodie Croyle for the season as the fragile youngster went down yet again and then lost veteran Damon Huard late in the game on Sunday. The Chiefs will have to turn again to Tyler Thigpen, who has been nothing but awful in his brief time in the NFL. Whether he can last the game or not will depend on how bad the offensive line plays. The Chief Qbís have been sacked 18 times this year and the line has been the cause of major troubles for the team. Their Qbís are not just getting hit behind the line they are getting dismantled by the opposition. Ingle Martin is the backup and with nobody on the roster talk has turned to the Chiefs bringing in Daunte Culpepper for a look after this game. The Chiefs have one good WR in Dwayne Bowe and the always reliable, but unhappy, TE Tony Gonzalez to pay attention to, but even if they get open itís a question if any of the Qbs can get the ball to them. Malcontent RB Larry Johnson looks to be inactive for the game as the NFL is investigating another off the field incident between he and a woman at a club. Johnson is a tough, extremely talented runner whose head does not always tell him to give maximum effort. He is one of the few runners in the NFL that is a legit threat to break 200 yards on a great afternoon, even running behind the awful offensive line, but he does not look to be a concern this week. Filling in will be Kolby Smith, a nothing player, and rookie Jamaal Charles, who may at least be a threat as a receiver. The Chiefs are often quickly taken out of the run game by the scoreboard.
The Jets defense played well enough to win last week, but was still unable to find a way to stop the passing game when they did not get pressure on the quarterback. It has become a major concern for the team. Despite CB Darrelle Revis playing excellent football and never needing help, the Jets secondary is a mess. Rookie Dwight Lowery is getting picked on badly by the opposition and while he is always in position to make a good tackle he is rarely in a spot to convince the QB to not throw the ball. The Jets need to find a safety that can either help him in coverage or consider moving someone like Hank Poteat up the depth chart. S Eric Smith looked to find his way to the bench and hopefully the change is permanent. He was as much the cause as many of those completions as Lowery was. With six games under their belts its hard to imagine a different defensive philosophy being used this week. The Jets will rush a few guys here and there and mainly play the run and drop guys back into coverage. Outside of one game this season the Jets philosophy has been to drop back and wait for the opposition to make a mistake and that trend should continue this week. The Jets need Kerry Rhodes and David Harris to begin making some plays and look to be more involved, as the schedule is about to get much tougher after this week. Neither has played as good as they played last season.
If the Jets give up anything more than 10 points, unless its garbage points in a blowout, it will be considered a disappointing game. Kansas City pretty much ranks dead last in almost every offensive category that there is. They donít gain yards. They donít score. They do not covert on third down. They turn the ball over. They get the QB hit. If the Jets allow Thigpen to simply sit back there and complete little short passes the way they have all the other backup Qbs this season, it will be a big concern moving forward.
Chiefs Defense vs. Jets Offense
Bend but donít break. Thatís the Chiefs philosophy and at times it serves them well. Kansas City will give you your opportunities to poke away at them and then try to load up on a short field and create a mistake. Usually it works for them for about a series or two before the floodgates open, and when the floodgates open they cant do anything to stop the opposition. The Chiefs, historically a terrible road team, are allowing nearly 30 points a game away from home, including 2 games of at least 34 points. Usually the team limits big plays, but this season they just do not have the ability to stop it. The loss of their star DE Jared Allen has destroyed their pass rush and the younger cornerbacks are still learning how to keep up with veteran wideouts. While they try to limit receptions with the scheme, they are susceptible to the deep pass patterns. Their best pass rusher, Tamba Hali, who doesnít even have a sack yet, plays no run defense at all and becomes a huge liability when teams run towards his side. Teams are averaging over 200 yards a game against this defense on the ground, an unheard of number in todayís NFL. They give up a huge number of big plays against the run and just look physically unable to compete at times.
The Jets offense needs to really come out and impose their will on a team like the Chiefs. Everyone knows the Jets have the talent on the team to be a good offensive team, but right now the team is limited by poor playcalling and players that look to have lost their confidence on the field and are searching for an identity. Brett Favre looks to be pressing trying to come to grips with his role in the offense and his forcing of the ball is leading to too many turnovers. That isnít helped one bit by the play of the offensive line which has at best been shoddy. Teams know if they blitz the Jets they are getting to Favre. All things considered the Jets offensive line has been the biggest disappointment of the season. Thomas Jones will look to build on his big game last week in Oakland. Jones finally got a few big runs under his belt, but again showed his limitations when he had no way to make one player miss him in the open field. The Jets wideouts had a terrible time with Oaklandís press coverage, but should find it easier this week against the Chiefs. Coles and Cotchery both need a solid game against Kansas City, though both came out of the game banged up. If there was one positive in the passing game last week it was that Brad Smith and Chansi Stuckey both emerged in the offense. If either Coles and Cotchery are limited these players will get opportunities to earn more playing time.
The Jets offense needs a confidence booster this week and that means the offense needs to be given every opportunity to score upwards of 30 points. If they struggle like they did last week it will be a hard sell to convince them that they can go on the road into Buffalo and be productive. The Jets should finally begin running some playaction this week and utilize more slant patterns underneath the deep coverage to allow their WRs to get big yards after the catch. Thomas Jones and Leon Washington will look to build upon last weeks game and get another stat padder under their belts against the Chiefs defense. Hopefully the Jets do not waste any trick plays in this game with Smith. There is no need for that type of offense to beat a team like Kansas City at home.
Specials let the Jets down last week and they have likely gone out and worked very hard to correct their problems. Mike Westhoff will not stand for mistakes like fake punts, muffed kicks, etc...and will make sure there is a much stronger effort this week. The Chiefs have a few players that are somewhat dangerous on kick returns, but the Jets coverage has been very good this year. Their punter gets a ton of work and is one of the better ones in the NFL. It is not a stretch to call him the best player on the team this year. They have brought in a new kicker for this game after Nick Novak missed a few field goals in last weeks game against the Titans.
All you need to know about Herman Edwards approach to the NFL game is the fact that last week at home down by 27 points he goes for a field goal inside the 10 rather than at least taking a shot at 7 points. Edwards is the most conservative coach in the NFL and quite possibly the worst tactical mind in the NFL. In his days in NY his greatest asset was his ability to motivate his players and have them ready to give effort most Sundays. That asset has seemingly been lost in Kansas City where he was never able to gain the trust of the veteran leadership on the team. Not many people were at the Jets/Chiefs game last year to boo Edwards, but he will probably get an earful from those who missed it if the game goes the Jets way this week. It will be hard to see the Chiefs organization retaining him as head coach this season.
Eric Mangini is going through a bad stretch himself. Manginiís bad decisions last year were hidden under the umbrella of a bad record and a public outcry against Chad Pennington. He has not been so lucky this year and has been taken to task for his teams preparation and gameplans almost every week this season. Mangini seems to be growing testy with the idea that he is not doing a good job and hopefully does not have the attitude where he will do something just to spite the critics rather than doing what should be in the best interests of the team. His defense of the effort against the Raiders has rubbed everyone the wrong way and is making things worse for the coverage of the team.
The Jets went into last week believing some type of press clippings about the team and laid an egg. With no playoff baseball in NY, the Jets and Giants have taken early center stage and this is likely the most negative press any of these players and coaches have ever experienced in their life. The players were demoralized by the loss, have heard about it all week, and that should provide a big wakeup call for them this week. Initially this looked like the perfect trap game scenario. You are back home at 4-2 and your sights are already set on the 5-1 Buffalo Bills two weeks from now and it becomes easy to overlook a bad team like the Chiefs. Instead the Jets are 3-3 and in a must win situation.
And its not just a must win, its a must win convincingly type of game. If the Jets come out of this game winning 16-10, it is not going to quiet the critics or build any team confidence. If a team that was disgraced the week before does not come out and just beat up an overmatched opponent you have to question if they ever can do it. Carolina last week came out and killed the Saints after getting embarrassed by the Bucs the week before. The Giants did it to the Seahawks the week after nearly blowing it against the winless Bengals. The Saints pounded the Raiders after a stunning loss to the Vikings. The Jets did it before against the Cardinals and have to do it again this week. The Raiders game should be a reminder for the remainder of the season about what happens when you donít come to play, not an indicator of things to come.
A loss here would be devastating and it might bring as much hate against Mangini as there used to be directed at Joe Walton in the old ďJoe must goĒ days. There is no reason for the Jets to lose to the Chiefs, but there was no reason for them to lose to the Raiders and they did. Any given Sunday. The Jets players and staff must realize that now.
This is a situation the Chiefs can not handle on the road. Even if the Jets use their play down to an opponent strategy they still have the advantage of being home against a team that leaves its heart in Kansas City as soon as they board the plane. Jets win big and gear up for a huge one the following week in Buffalo.
Jets 38 Chiefs 6