David Gawkowski

5 Keys to Beating the Titans

Created on Sept. 26, 2013 6:13 AM EST

To the surprise of many so-called "experts," the New York Jets are off to a fine 2-1 start. However, there was a certain wise and prescient writer who predicted they could get off to this start. This week presents another very winnable game for the boys in green. They face a Tennessee Titans team with an excellent defense, but extremely average offense. In other words, a team just like theirs. Let's take a look at some of the key matchups that could determine the game. 

1) Contain Jake Locker
The Titans' young quarterback didn't exactly set the league on fire last year when he threw 10 touchdowns against 11 interceptions for a 74 QB rating. But, this year he has been mistake-free with 3 touchdowns against zero interceptions. Where he's really excelled though, is scrambling. Last week against the Chargers he ran five times for 68 yards and a touchdown. If the Jets can keep him in the pocket, especially on third down, they should be in good shape. Rex Ryan would be wise to keep a spy on Locker for most of the day. 

2)  Keep Pounding it with Powell
Bilal Powell effectively established himself as the Jets' starting running back last week. It will be interesting to see how he responds after the heaviest workload of his career. Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg will need to continue to feed him the ball, and not get too pass happy, as he is known to do. The Jets did have some huge pass plays last week, but that's not something you can bank on week in and week out. 

3) Beware of Bernard Pollard 
The Titans' safety is one of the most devastating hitters in the NFL... just ask any New England fan, he's wounded more Patriots than the British Navy. Though he has a reputation as a cheap-shot artist, he's also an excellent tackler. Against the Chargers last week, he was all over the field making plays. The week before against the Texans, he knocked Andre Johnson out of the game with a crushing hit. The Jets will need to account for him at all times. Geno Smith must keep his throws down unless he wants to get one of his receivers knocked into the middle of next week. 

4) It's Time for a New Kick Returner 
It's time for the Jets to inject some excitement into their return game, which has been abysmal through 3 games. Clyde Gates (averaging under 18 yards per return) is simply not the answer and is making Jets fans long for the return of Joe McKnight. While it's a bit of a gamble to make a starting cornerback your kickoff returner, both Antonio Cromartie and Dee Milliner are better options. Further down the depth chart, Ben Obamanu or Alex Green could warrant a look as well. 

5) More PT for Sheldon Richardson
The Jets' rookie defensive tackle has been outstanding and controlled the line of scrimmage almost singlehandedly at times. However, he only played 41 of 86 snaps last week. He is too good to keep off the field for that many plays, and he'll be needed to help put the clamps on Chris Johnson. If it's a matter of conditioning that's one thing, but if he's able to play, get him out there. 

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