The New York Jets will be doing something they have not done in 34 years on this Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They will be starting four rookies (Geno Smith, Tommy Bohanon, Dee Millner, and Sheldon Richardson) and will have 13 new starters (6 on defense, 7 on offense). This could be the start of the end for Rex Ryan if he cannot turn his team around, but don’t count the Jets out. It is the season of unknown for the Jets, but this game against the Bucs should be a competitive one, and a game that the Jets could very well win. Here’s what you should be looking for in the Jets season opener:
1) Geno Smith and the New Look Offense
Marty Mornhinweg’s west coast offense suits Geno Smith’s talent quite well. There will be a lot of quick throws and sort routes that can help Smith ease into his comfort zone. The aspect of his game that should comfort fans is his exuberance of confidence. Smith believes he is the best quarterback of the team and does not appear to be weighed down by the relentless media coverage of New York. The Bucs vastly improved their secondary this offseason, adding Darrelle Revis and Dashon Goldson, which could cause concern for Smith. Mornhinweg and Smith will test the Buc’s secondary vertically though, as they gave up more 20 + yard throws than any other team in the NFL last season. Expect to see Smith playing in the shotgun for much of the game and having an impressive game.
2) Will He Or Won’t He?
Santonio Holmes was limited in practice this past week and, according to Rex Ryan, he will be a game time decision. Holmes may not be a true number one receiver, but the Jets need all the help they can get at wide out. With Holmes and Stephen Hill on the field at the same time, along with Clyde Gates, the Jets will have some serious speed, which could lead to a lot of big plays. A game with Holmes will be drastically different than one without him.
3) Battle Of The Lines
Rex Ryan has been raving about his defensive line, and believes it to be one of the key components of his team. The Bucs offensive line on the other side, was dismal last season and doesn’t appear to be much better this season, now that Carl Nicks is hurt. Kendrick Ellis was limited in practice due to back problems (something that has been bothering him his whole career) and is listed as questionable for Sundays game. Losing Ellis would be a huge hit for the Jets line, but they still hold an advantage over the Buc’s o-line. It will be Muhammad Wilkerson’s and Sheldon Richardon’s time to shine, as they will be required to both shut down Doug Martin and put pressure on Josh Freeman. Expect the Jets line to have a few sacks and put pressure on the quarterback, but struggle in the run game against Doug Martin.
4) It’s DeMario Davis’s Time
Davis, a former third round pick, is taking over Bart Scott’s position of middle linebacker; some tough shoes to fill. During the preseason, Davis showed great improvement from last season and seems to have mastered Ryan’s defense. His greatest strength is his speed (ran a 4.5 coming out of college) and his ability to rush the edges. Davis will have his hands full covering Doug Martin, but he has the skill set to do it. Expect the Bucs to challenge him in coverage, because that was his weakness last season, but do not expect the same result. Look for Davis to have a breakout game for the Jets and prove his worth in Ryan’s defense.
The prodigal child returns, as Darrelle Revis is back in New York, but for the first time on the opposing side. Revis has a huge chip on his shoulder and is out for revenge, though most of his anger is toward the Jets front office. This will be Revis’s first regular season game back since tearing his ACL last year. If he looks slow in the beginning, the Jets will test him, but they will have to be wary, as Revis knows Ryan’s defense to a point. Metlife Stadium will most likely roar with cheers when Revis comes onto the field, but don’t expect them to continue once the game starts.