New York Jets: Don’t pack overconfidence on trip to London


You’ve heard the expression a million times, especially as it relates to the New York Jets.

Football is a game of inches.  This is true.  A better way to say it…football is a game of fine lines.  There is a fine line between playing with intensity, and being out of control.  There’s a fine line between being quick and aggressive, and pressing and being in a hurry.

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But the finest line there is, and the one that gets crossed the most often, is the line between being confident and being over-confident.

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This line gets crossed almost every week in the NFL. Usually, it’s a problem with teams that aren’t used to having success year-in and year-out.  Without question, the Jets crossed that line last week against the Philadelphia Eagles.

We won’t belabor the evidence of overconfidence, such as like Brandon Marshall’s inexplicable lateral or kicking the ball to Darren Sproles when the Eagles offense is coming off of, as Hall of Famer Troy Aikman put it, “one of the worst performances he’s ever seen”.

Instead, let’s spin this forward and talk about what the Jets must do across the pond in London against the Miami Dolphins to show that overconfidence is not a part of their makeup as a team.

The main thing that we need to see from the Jets against the Dolphins is a consistent, and almost stubborn, showing of an 8-man front against the Dolphins on 1st-and-10 and any other “running downs” early and often on Sunday.  Force the Dolphins to throw the ball and pit an average at best QB in Ryan Tannehill, against one of the premier secondaries in the league.

The Jets played a 7-man front early in the game, and for most of the game, against the Eagles because they figured their very stout front 7 would be able to handle the Eagles running game.  However, Ryan Mathews was able to crease the Jets for 108 yards on the ground.  What was alarming was that a lot of his runs were wide runs on the edges where he used his speed to get outside.

If you have an unblocked 8th man right up at the line of scrimmage…those sweeps won’t go anywhere!  The strong safety, or whoever is unblocked, will be in perfect position to make a play.

If the quarterback has any confidence, and he consistently sees an 8-man front, he’ll check out of the run and throw the ball against one-on-one coverage.  Against Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, or Peyton Manning…a stubborn 8-man front might not be the most prudent course of action.

However, if you have Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, and Buster Skrine patrolling your secondary, and you are playing against Ryan Tannehill, then an 8-man front is a smart play especially against a team that is struggling with their confidence.

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Early in training camp, I called for Jets to use Calvin Pryor as that 8th man in the box to stop the running game of other teams.  This is definitely the course of action that Todd Bowles should take for this game because you don’t want Miami to gain any confidence at all from running the ball.

On the outside, Miami has capable receivers.  Jarvis Landry had a solid rookie year in 2014. Rishard Matthews put up some good Fantasy numbers against Buffalo last week (6 catches, 113 yards, 2TDs) but those numbers had no impact on the game whatsoever.

Landry is a talent, but he’s not a burner who’ll beat you with speed over the top.  I would put Revis on him all over the field and that should neutralize him.

Mathews had a good game last week, but I’d make him show me that he can do it again.  This will be the perfect time for Cromartie to step up and show he still has the ability to cover one-on-one.  If needed, give him help over the top with Marcus Gilchrist to take away the deep ball, and leave Revis one-on-one.

Even if Todd Bowles wants to spring the 8th man in the box like a trap on the Dolphins…fine.

Give the Dolphins one series against the base defense with the 7-man front.  But after that first series…anytime the Dolphins are in early downs and “probable” running situations, bring that 8th man up and don’t allow the Dolphins to get any confidence in their running game.

This should be the formula for the Jets every time they play against a sub par quarterback, or against a team that has not shown the ability to beat you with the passing game.  Don’t allow the other team to get comfortable and think that they have any chance at beating you with the run.  Stop it cold before it gets started.

If they take this approach, they should go into the bye week with a win and the confidence and swagger that comes with a 3-1 record.  If they allow the Dolphins to run the ball and have success early…then it may be a long flight back across the Atlantic, and an even longer two weeks in New York City.

Next: Is Rex Ryan headed back to the playoffs?

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