David Gawkowski

5 Keys To Beating The Buccaneers

Created on Sept. 06, 2013 9:14 PM EST

After another tumultuous preseason, the Jets open against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this Sunday as 3-point underdogs. A win in Geno Smith's debut could set the tone for a surprising year, while a loss in the home opener will be an early confirmation that this team is a candidate for the Jadeveon Clowney sweepstakes. Here are five keys that could determine Sunday's winner. 

1) Contain Doug Martin. Sure, this one is fairly obvious, but it's no less true. Martin essentially is the Buccaneers offense. He rushed for 1,454 yards last year and had 49 receptions for another 472 yards while scoring 12 TDs. Let's face it, the Jets don't do many things well, but the one thing they are capable of doing is stopping the run thanks to Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson. If they can stop Martin on 1st and 2nd down and force the Bucs into 3rd and long, Rex Ryan can send his elaborate blitz packages at Josh Freeman.   

2.) Let Geno Smith gain some confidence. For the Jets to have a chance in this game, Geno Smith needs to have some early success. He's a rookie starting his very first game, which is a daunting task for anyone, let alone someone in the New York spotlight. The Jets would be smart to set up some quick screens and short passes in the first quarter to give Smith a chance to get on a roll with some high percentage completions. This will also get the crowd behind him, as nothing turns Jets fans off more than a three-and-out. Another worthwhile play would be a sprint out where Smith has the option to run or pass. The Jets need to make sure the Bucs know Smith can beat them with his legs or his arm.

3.) Don't forget about Adrian Clayborn. The third-year defensive end out of Iowa is a freakish talent, but was injured last year. He'll be charging at Smith's blind side all day long, so it will be up to D'Brickashaw Ferguson to handle him. Ferguson is a fine tackle, but the Jets should give him a little help with the occasional double team. 

4.) Feed the hot running back. Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell figure to split the carries on Sunday, but if one back is running better than the other, the Jets need to realize that quickly and go with the back who is moving the chains. Just like with closers in baseball, using a running back by committee is rarely a good idea. 

5.) Revis vs. Holmes. It's hard to know what either team will get out these guys. After years of practicing against each other, there will be no surprises should they lineup against one another. Holmes is expected to play a limited role, but when he's out there, it's a good bet Revis will be on him. Revis has been able to practice this week, but Tampa Bay may be cautious with him as well. If Smith is able to complete any passes against Revis, that will really get the crowd going. Similarly, if #24 makes any big plays against his old team, or is able to shutdown his half of the field, it will be a long day for the Jets. 

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