So what's more important, a good defense or a good offense? That's the question that will be answered this Sunday when the New York Jets bring their revamped defense down to the Big Easy to take on the high powered offense of the New Orleans Saints. Everyone says that defense wins championships, but the Saints are trying to prove that a very good offense can get you to a championship. Both units will be put to the test on Sunday.
New York's defensive unit will face its biggest test of the 2009 season so far, going up against QB Drew Brees and the Saints offense. Brees has been off the charts over the past two seasons. In 2008, Brees threw for 5069 yards and 34 touchdowns. So far, three weeks into this season, he has 841 yards and 9 touchdowns. Brees' career has really taken off in New Orleans and the Saints have all the tools around him to make a successful run at the playoffs in 2009.
Brees' number one target in the passing game is WR Marques Colston. So far this season he only has 195 yards receiving through three games, but he has 15 receptions with 3 of them going for touchdowns. He will be matched up with Jets Pro Bowl CB Darrelle Revis. All Revis has been able to do this season has been shutting down Andre Johnson, Randy Moss and Justin Gage in successive weeks. The key for Revis will be keeping Colston out of the end zone.
The Jets are hurting a little in the secondary with Lito Sheppard and Donald Strickland still nursing injuries and are questionable for Sunday. Revis and S Kerry Rhodes are also a little banged up, but they will be in the lineup on Sunday. The Jets have to do their best to take away the receivers and make the Saints beat them in other ways.
That's where the defensive line comes in. Last week against in Buffalo, the Bills held Brees to only 172 yards passing. The flip side to that was that the Saints ran the ball for 222 yards and 3 touchdowns. The Jets run defense is ranked 9th in the NFL giving up 82 yards per game on the ground. If the secondary is able to keep the receivers quiet, then the defensive line will have their hands full with RB's Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush.
The front seven of the Jets defense will need to keep pressure on Drew Brees and the running backs. It will be tough but I'm sure Rex Ryan has a good game plan in place.
One player that could end up having a good game is Saints TE Jeremy Shockey. So far this season, he been able to haul in 14 catches in the first three games. The Jets gave up some yards last week to Titans TE Alge Crumpler, so Shockey could be a huge factor in this game. Expect the Saints to use short passes to Shockey and quick screens to Bush to help them control the clock.
On the other side of the ball is the Jets offense led by rookie QB Mark Sanchez. Sanchez is having a good year by rookie standards so far with 606 yards and 4 touchdowns. He has only thrown two interceptions through three games, but does have 4 fumbles. Sanchez, the NFL's offensive rookie of the month in September, has been working on protecting the ball better in the pocket. As expected, he has made a few mistakes this season, but not when it counts. He has been very solid during the important moments of the games so far.
The Saints secondary is ranked 22nd in the NFL against the pass, giving up 245 yards per game through the air. Sanchez will have to try to expose this so he can open things up for the running game. He does have the luxury of passing to WR Jerricho Cotchery, who is currently 3rd in the NFL with 285 yards. Throw in TE Dustin Keller and WR Chansi Stuckey with Sanchez' pocket presence and the Jets should be successful through the air on Sunday.
A main key for New York is to get the ground game going to control the game clock. Last week against the Titans, RB Thomas Jones was only able to get 20 yards on 14 carries. The Saints running defense is currently ranked 5th in the league, giving up 67 yards on the ground per game. Jones and Leon Washington got plenty of carries last week but could not get the yards against Tennessee. New Orleans defense has really improved since last season and may have a good day against the Jets running backs.
They key on offense this week for Gang Green is try to establish the running game against the Saints. If they can do this, then the passing lanes will open up even more on a poor Saints secondary. They have to establish the run and keep Drew Brees and Co. off the field. The key on defense is to keep the pressure on Brees. Get him confused and try to force him into a mistake. But do not over do it on the blitz or he will burn you. The Saints offense is too talented and will find ways to score.
I have confidence that the Jets can win this game. As long as they can keep the Saints offense some what in check, then I believe their offense can do enough to win. But they are going to have to put some points on the board. Jets head down south and take it 28-24.