One down, how many more to go?
The Jets landed their first win of the season last week against the Dolphins, surprising many NFL observers. But the Jets say they were not surprised, and they are looking to add to that win total Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium against the Jaguars.
“No one in this locker room thought we were going to go 0-16,” tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins said. “We won and it felt good like a regular win. It wasn’t like we just won the Super Bowl. It was like we just won one game and we plan on winning many more.”
That starts with Jacksonville coming to town. The Jaguars are road favorites for the first time since 2011, proving the Jets still are not thought highly of in Vegas. But this is a winnable game for the Jets. The 2-1 Jaguars have not convinced anyone yet that they are for real. They also are coming off a game in London last week, a 44-7 destruction of the Ravens, that could leave their bodies still trying to get corrected from the time change.
For Jets coach Todd Bowles, he emphasized to his team this week that they need to keep building off the win over Miami.
“We try to get them to play like that every week, but you’re only as good as your last game,” Bowles said. “We just have to keep grinding. We can’t look back. You don’t look back on the season until it’s over. We just have to keep working to get better. They got better from Weeks 1 and 2. We have to try to get better from Week 3.”
The Jaguars’ defense presents a stiff challenge. They are in the top 10 in takeaways, total yards, passing yards and sacks. The Jets’ offense had some good moments last week against the Dolphins, but can they do it again? The Jets feel the longer they are together, the more they can keep improving. They have worked in a lot of new players since training camp.
“I definitely think there is a high ceiling,” wide receiver Jermaine Kearse said. “We’ve got a lot of new faces in this offense, a lot of guys who just got here or have been here for a year. I think as the year goes, the chemistry will get better and we’ll definitely start clicking a lot more and be able to be more explosive.”
Jets WR Jermaine Kearse vs. Jaguars CB Jalen Ramsey
Ramsey has emerged as one of the best young cornerbacks in football. He has give up just four catches on 14 targets this season, allowing a passer rating of 9.8 when the ball is thrown in his direction. He also has one interception.
The Jaguars have two good cornerbacks in Ramsey and A.J. Bouye, but Ramsey probably will be matched up with Kearse. The Jets’ offense has relied on Kearsey, who came over from the Seahawks in the Sheldon Richardson trade before Week 1. He has a team-high 14 catches for 165 yards and two touchdowns.
“He’s just patient,” Kearse said of Ramsey. “He’s going to press. They’re going to be in your face and they’re going to try to get hands on you. It’s the same defense as Seattle. It’s kind of like déjà vu, dealing with the same type of stuff.”
Kearse has been particularly effective on third down, catching seven passes on the down and getting a first down on five of those.
Leonard the load: Jaguars rookie running back Leonard Fournette looks like the real deal three games into his career. He has scored a touchdown in each of his first three games and racked up 199 rushing yards. The Jaguars have not just Fournette but also former Jet Chris Ivory and Corey Grant at running back.
The Jets’ run defense played much better last week, allowing just 30 yards against the Dolphins, after giving up 370 yards in the first two games.
“We’ve got to build off of that,” defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson said. “The first two weeks, of course, were not up to our expectations. Against Miami, it was. We have to build on that. It’s another tough test this week with Chris and Fournette coming in here, a big O-line that likes to run the ball downhill. It’s a challenge for us, and we’re always up for it.”
No Joshing: Josh McCown has played better than expected for the Jets through the first three games, but he is trying to do something Sunday he has not done in 13 years.
McCown has not won back-to-back games as a starter since 2004 when he was on the Cardinals. For some perspective, his top running back in that 17-14 win over the Giants on Nov. 14, 2004, was Emmitt Smith. The Giants were led by quarterback Kurt Warner, running back Tiki Barber and tight end Jeremy Shockey.
The Giants benched Warner after that game, turning to rookie Eli Manning the next week. In other words, that was a long, long time ago.
McCown has started 51 games since winning two in a row.
You better run: The Jets have struggled to get the running game going this year. Against the Jaguars, they are going to need it. Jacksonville has a strong secondary led by cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye that is going to make it hard to throw in this game. Jacksonville is not as strong against the run, allowing 135.3 yards per game, 28th in the league.
The Jets are averaging 89 yards per game, 23rd in the league. They will be without top running back Matt Forte, who is out with a turf toe. This could give Bilal Powell more of a chance to find a rhythm. Powell is averaging just 2.6 yards per carry, but he did have a long run called back on a penalty last week.
Bortles balling: Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles had an unbelievable game last week against the Ravens. He completed 20 of 31 passes for 244 yards and four touchdowns. There is skepticism that he can do that two weeks in a row, but he could challenge the Jets’ defense. Bortles’ offensive line has allowed just two sacks, the fewest in the league.
“When you sit back and look and how they score 44 points against what I think is a pretty good Baltimore team, credit to him,” Jets defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers said. “He’s leading them. When you load up the box against Fournette, he’s taking his shots downfield. He’s putting them in the right situation running [the ball]. He’s doing a really good job for them.”
The Jets played really well last week in the win over the Dolphins, but let’s not get carried away. They will come crashing back down to Earth this week. Leonard Fournette has a big day and Josh McCown struggles.
Jaguars 27, Jets 14
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