On Sunday the New York Jets (1-0) head out to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers (0-1) at Heinz Field (4:25 p.m. EST). The Jets are coming off of a dominating performance against the Buffalo Bills while the Steelers are trying to bounce back from a loss to the Broncos. Lets take a look at some of the keys to the game from the New York Jets perspective.
Play physical-The New York Jets offense, particularly the offensive line, must be prepared for a very physical game on Sunday. The Pittsburgh defense is very aggressive and the line must be able to match their intensity and win the battles in the trenches.
Ball control- The Steelers have a very opportunistic defense which puts a premium on ball control for the Jets. Quarterback Mark Sanchez must make smart decisions with the football and not try to force plays down the field. The running backs, mainly Shonn Greene, must do a better job of hanging on to the football. Gang Green cannot afford to have a sloppy offensive performance in what will probably be a very close game.
Health of Kerley and Keller- The Jets enter Sunday's game thin at both the wide receiver and tight end position. That situation could become more concerning if Jeremy Kerley and Dustin Keller are unable to play due to injuries. Kerley is coming off of a breakout game last Sunday where he scored two touchdowns (one on a return), while Keller has become Mark Sanchez' safety blanket in the passing game. If Jeremy is unable to play Clyde Gates and Chaz Schilens are expected to step in, while Jeff Cumberland will fill in for Dustin. Update: Dustin Keller has been ruled out for the game on Sunday. This is a huge blow to the Jets offense as the inexperienced Jeff Cumberland will replace Keller. Cumberland has shown some decent hands, but he will surely be tested when it comes to blocking. The Jets will definitely have to adjust their blocking schemes.
Will Revis play? As of now Darrelle Revis is listed as questionable for Sunday's game due to a mild concussion. If Revis sits out Sunday it would be a huge blow to the Jets defense as the Steelers like to employ three receiver sets which puts a lot of pressure on the secondary. Kyle Wilson would replace Darrelle with Ellis Lankster and Isaiah Trufant filling in on the nickel and dime packages. Update: Darrelle Revis has been ruled out for Sunday's game. There will be a lot of pressure on the young cornerbacks to remain in sync with the rest of the defense and consistent in coverage.
Bring Ben down- When it comes to quarterbacks you will not find one tougher to bring down than Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers quarterback does an excellent job moving around the pocket and can endure some big time hits while making plays down the field. The Jets defense must get to "Big Ben" and get him to the ground. Failure to do so could result in some huge plays, especially if Revis does not play.
Yards after the catch- In Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, and Emmanuel Sanders the Steelers field a very dangerous wide receiver group. The Jets secondary must remain consistent in coverage and limit the yards after the catch.
Miller time- Another player the Jets must keep an eye on is tight end Heath Miller. The Steeler tight end takes advantage of mismatches in the secondary especially when Pittsburgh is in the 3 receiver set. The New York linebackers and safeties must account for Miller at all times.