It Won’t Be Easy in the Big Easy

It won’t be easy in the Big Easy when The 3-0 J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS  head to New Orleans take on the NFL’s top offense, the Drew Brees led Saints on Sunday. Already possessing a passing game that includes standout WR Marques Colston, an array of complementary receivers, a healthy TE Jeremy Shockey and big play threat Reggie Bush, the Saints NOW HAVE starting RB Pierre Thomas back as well. For the Jets, a solid run game of their own combined with getting Brees to the ground are the keys to stealing what many feel is just too tough of a task for Gang Green.

The Saints come into the game first in the NFL in passing yards, passing TDs (Brees has 9),and second in rushing yards with 512. RB Pierre Thomas returned from an early season injury to rush for 122 yds and 2 TDS last week in Buffalo. If Brees and the air wasn’t enough, now the ground game with Thomas back, provides the Saints a killer balance  So how do you stop them? Keep them off the field for as long as possible. The Jet ground attack of RB Thomas Jones and Leon Washington needs help from its offensive line in creating holes, and setting the rythym down for the Jet offense. Through September, the Jets have started slow on the ground in the first half. Another slow start on Sunday and the Jets may find themselves in a deep hole.

The Jets defense, so effective in forcing Matt Schaub Tom Brady and Kerry Collins to get rid of balls early, has to do more against Brees. The defense will not only need to bring pressure, they’ll need sacks; drive killers that force clubs into unenviable long yardage situations.  Jet coach Rex Ryan told the press on Wednesday that he is not comfortable with shootouts. Given Ryan’s body of work as defensive coordinator in Baltimore and so far as head coach with the Jets, expect the D to try and make this a game few can envision right now: one in which it’s the Jets defense, not the Saints offense, setting the game’s tempo.

Shut down corner Darrele Revis will help in slowing down the dangerous Marques Colston. The Saints passing attack includes more than one guy though. Devery Henderson is one of the primary  deep ball speedsters that compliments Colston along with the high strung and highly productive TE, former Giant Jeremy Shockey, whose ability to stay healthy so far in 2009 will only add to the Saints proficiency, especially in the red zone.

The 3-0 Saints enter Sunday with a defense that may not resemble the high pressure hard hitting Jet unit that has risen to the top of the league in the blink of an eye.Yet the numbers will tell you that the Saints are no longer just one side of the ball. After the first three games, New Orleans, led by former Jet middle LB Jonathan Vilma, has accumulated a total of 6 sacks and 9 turnovers. OK, these numbers have perhaps been built up against rookie Matthew Stafford, Eagles backup QB Kevin Kolb and the always disappointing Trent Edwards, but the question for the Jets is , where does Mark Sanchez fit in among this group?

The rookie QB has proven leadership, toughness, and resiliency in the early going. One thing he has NOT had to do so far, is bring the Jets back from a big deficit, or have to match an opposing offense on a scoring tirade. That may be the case for Sanchez this week who like the quarterbacks before him in 2009, could be forced into pushing the ball downfield more than he’d like to. This in order to keep up with the Saints juggernaut offense.

Sundays battle will be a daunting task. Win or lose, the bar will again be raised regarding the level of play required in order to beat Super Bowl caliber teams. . This is a BIG test for Kris Jenkins, Bard Scott, David Harris, Kerry Rhodes and the rest of the Jet defense. Alot depends on them. If, and only if, the Jets CAN get Brees down, AND move the chains on the ground, the game will move to the fourth and be anybody’s to win.

Three keys to the game:

Brees vs Jet blitz. Sacks, not pressure. For the Jets thats key

Jet ground game vs Saints front seven. A slow start by Jones and Washington for the 4th straight week could spell disaster for the Jets this time.

Dustin Keller vs Saints Linebackers. The Jets up and coming TE, both a  reliable safety valve and downfield threat, needs to ease the load for Sanchez by  having a Jason Witten type game of lots of catches and yards,

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