By Brad Carroll
The New York Jets have a quarterback who can't tell time on the road; a coach who believes he would be fired if the season ended today; a defensive backfield that can't cover anybody; and a general manager that is in over his head, with no knowledge at all how to build a team. There's a lot wrong with the Jets right now.
So, can it get any worse for the 1-4 Jets? Yes, yes it can.
The Jets play host to Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos Sunday afternoon for a 1 p.m. start. The Broncos are everything the Jets aren't right now, starting with having a legitimate franchise quarterback on the roster, even if he's on the tail end of his career. The Jets don't even have a starting caliber quarterback on their roster. The difference between the two is huge, and the 9.5-point spread should give an idea of what people think of the host team.
There might not be one single realistic person who believes the Jets can beat the Broncos at home. There might not be someone who believes they won't lose by double-digits. If history holds, they will be right, and the Broncos will rout the Jets. But the Jets have a chance because this is the National Football League, where no outcome is considered a given.
It won't be easy, and it would be a gigantic upset, but the Jets have a chance in this game if everything goes in their favor. Here are three keys to a Jets victory Sunday, and no, one of them isn't Manning and the rest of the offense coming down with food poisoning and being forced to miss the game. Read our game predictions here and follow us on Twitter for all our Jets news and analysis.
Geno Has Game Of His Life
It might not even be possible, as Geno Smith's future may be as nothing more than a backup quarterback in this league, but he has to play like a franchise passer Sunday. Smith has had a rough go of it of late, not only being completely ineffective on the field, but a mess off it as well, cursing out a fan after the loss to the Lions and then missing the team meeting before the San Diego game because he got the times mixed up. The latter is just unbelievable. Imagine being a player on the Jets at that meeting and not seeing your starting quarterback there. Talk about having no confidence in a guy. But Smith continues to get the opportunity to start, meaning the team is going to have to rally around him. If Smith has any fight left in him, he'll show what he has against Denver. Whether that's good enough or not is anyone's guess. But a possible upset starts and ends with Smith's play.
Blitz, Blitz, Blitz
The only chance the Jets have on defense is to disrupt Peyton Manning in the passing game, and that means sending the house early and often. Manning might pop a couple of big plays to open receivers with the Jets selling out on defense, but there is no way the Jets can sit back and watch their defensive backs get burnt to a crisp. If Manning has even a couple seconds to throw, he will find an open receiver, as the Broncos have a ton of playmakers. The Jets defensive backs are the worst in the league, unable to cover even the most pedestrian receivers, so this could get ugly if they don't get any help from a pass rush. If the Jets do get pressure on Manning, they must take him down. If they miss just once, the Broncos will hit on a big play. The Jets have to make a couple of big plays on defense as well, perhaps scoring on a pick-six, to have a chance to win.
Control Clock On Offense
Smith has to play the best game of his career, but the Jets also need to move the ball on the ground, which is the best way to keep Manning on the sideline. Chris Ivory, Chris Johnson and Bilal Powell all should get touches in both the running and passing games against Denver. If the Jets are going to insist on playing all three, they need to use them where it makes sense. Ivory should be the main runner, Johnson should be a threat out of the backfield catching the ball, and Powell can be the explosive third down option. If the Jets can get their running backs involved, it makes everything easier for Smith and the defense as well. If the Jets control the clock on offense, and don't turn it over, they will at least put themselves in position to make this a game.
If all three of these keys happen, the Jets will save their season with a shocking victory over one of the Super Bowl favorites.