The Seahawks travel to play the Jets this Sunday at 10 AM PST. It’s rare that these two teams meet since Seattle moved to back to the NFC in 2002, so we can lose touch and forget who’s who and what’s what.
New York is 1-2 following a bad road loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in which quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick threw six interceptions. Also, cornerback Darrelle Revis is having perhaps the worst season of his career despite only being in the second year of the contract he signed to return to the Jets in 2015. Still, it will be a true test of the Seahawks offensive line to give Russell Wilson more than a half-second in the pocket against New York’s elite defensive line. To learn more about all of those situations, I spoke to Gang Green Nation’s (SB Nation’s Jets blog) MacGregor Wells, sending him six Qs and getting six As in return.
Q: I know everyone wants to put the game behind them but I'd be remiss to not ask about six interceptions. From the looks of it, Ryan Fitzpatrick may have been lucky to only throw six picks. But Peyton Manning also once threw six interceptions in a game before, so it happens. How did Fitz look in the first two weeks and is there any chance that the Jets, who have three backup QBs, are starting someone else in Week 5? Fitzpatrick was much better at home last season (rating of 94 compared to 81.6 on the road) but it seems like there's a chance that one more loss will have Todd Bowles thinking that he at least couldn't do worse with Geno Smith.
A: Fitz was mediocre in week 1 versus the Bengals, suffering from erratic accuracy and questionable decisions, but not killing the team with turnovers. In week 2 against the Bills Fitz was as good as he has ever been in the NFL, throwing for 370+ yards on only 34 attempts, repeatedly connecting on long strikes downfield, something he has struggled badly with throughout his career.
There isn't much chance Fitz will be replaced in Week 5, unless the Seahawks destroy him as badly as the Chiefs did last week. Barring another complete meltdown of historical proportions, the coaching staff seems pretty committed to Fitzpatrick as the starter going forward. Last year's 10-6 campaign in which Fitz set a (modest) new Jets record for touchdown passes and the Jets offense was actually good for the first time in a long time seems to have bought Fitz a fair bit of patience. However, should the Seahawks shut down the Jets offense, as they are certainly capable of doing, and should Fitz have a multiple turnover, zero touchdown game, I would guess that Fitz would begin to be on the hot seat in week 5, and if he plays poorly once again, perhaps replaced in the lineup by week 6.
Q: "Richard Sherman or Darrelle Revis" was a hot debate for a few years but it's certainly not a topic of discussion in 2016 as many analysts are saying that Revis Island is now large enough to be the eighth continent of the world.Overblown because of a couple bad games or is Revis really a player that the Seahawks offense could go after on Sunday? (Note: The Jets are allowing an NFL-high 9.7 yards per pass attempt.)
A: Revis is clearly not the player he was just a couple of years ago, let alone the player he was in his all time great campaign of 2009. The league's best young, fast, athletic receivers are no longer players Revis can shut down man to man. To compensate Revis has gradually taken to playing farther and farther off the line of scrimmage, trying to read the quarterback's eyes, but that takes away the press coverage ability that made Revis great.
Reflecting that, Revis has gone the first three weeks of the season without recording a single interception or pass defensed; he hasn't gotten a hand on a single pass to start the year. Opposing quarterbacks don't really fear Revis anymore and are in fact targeting him, not because he is the weak link in the secondary, but because he is still often matched up against the best receiver on the team without safety help over the top, and opposing quarterbacks now like that matchup, for good reason.
I would say there is a good chance that if Revis is matched up against Baldwin much of the game on Sunday the Seahawks will probably not be shy about targeting that matchup, and I wouldn't be surprised if they were successful doing so. Vintage Revis would make me confident the Jets would shut down Baldwin; with this version of Revis I don't really have that confidence.
Q: It seems like New York's bread and butter for at least the next two seasons is going to be Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, and Leonard Williams. The trio has notched five sacks and Richardson was even suspended for one game. It appears like that defensive line could be the key to the Jets chances of winning the game and it could be murder on Russell Wilson, especially if he's not able to move like he's used to moving. I'm searching my brain for a question but all I can find is fear and more fear. Who is a player outside of those three on the defense (and Revis) that is very exceptional that fans might not know about?
A: I'm not sure there is anyone else besides the four you mentioned. The other cornerbacks, Marcus Williams and Buster Skrine aren't special. The free safety, Marcus Gilchrist, has had a rough start to the year and is no better than average. The strong safety, Calvin Pryor, had a nice year last year after a tough rookie year. Jets fans were hopeful he would take the next step up to perhaps a Pro Bowl level this year, but so far he has, if anything, regressed in his play. The linebackers as a group are solid but not spectacular. David Harris at inside linebacker is aging but still very good. The outside linebackers are a collection of young unproven players who aren't on the field all that much.
Perhaps the player that best fits your question is the Jets 2016 first round draft pick, inside linebacker Darron Lee. While still a rookie and prone to some rookie mistakes and blown assignments, Lee has special speed and explosiveness. He leads the Jets in tackles and excels at bursting through gaps to make tackles behind the line of scrimmage. While it may be a bit early to call him exceptional at this point, he has the kind of talent that could develop into a special player in the near future.
Q: Things obviously haven't gone as planned for the Jets, a team that was one win away from the playoffs last season and was bringing a lot of the same players back while the Patriots were going to be without Tom Brady and a million other players for a few games, at least. New York is 29th in DVOA and not really excelling in any one facet of the game despite having talented players like a good trio of receivers and defensive linemen and Matt Forte added to the mix. How would you measure your preseason expectations to your expectations for this season after three games? What's the source of the 1-2 start and what do the Jets have to do to get back to being the team that beat the Bills 37-31?
A: The source of the 1-2 start, more than anything else, is a brutal schedule to start the season. Five of the first six games come against 2015 playoff teams, and the other opponent is the Buffalo Bills, who beat the Jets five straight times prior to this year's Jets win. Following the opening day loss at home to the Bengals six of the next eight games are on the road. Jets fans knew this would be a very difficult start to the year. Nobody anticipated the horrific showing in Kansas City, but the one point loss to the Bengals followed by the win against the Bills was probably what most Jets fans expected, although they might have thought the win would have come at home and the loss would have come on the road. In any event, the disappointment at this point stems largely from last week's ugly loss. It was horrible. But it was just one game. Bad games happen even to the best teams.
The next three or four games will tell the tale of the Jets season. If Revis returns to a form resembling his prior seasons and if Fitzpatrick can rebound the Jets have the talent to survive the tough stretch with something like a 3-4 or even a 4-3 record. Then the schedule gets a whole lot less challenging, setting the Jets up for a playoff run with most of the rest of the season at home against teams not quite as challenging for the Jets. On the other hand, it is not difficult to envision the Jets losing the next three or four straight against very tough competition, with the Seahawks, Steelers, Cardinals and Ravens on tap. There is no reason to believe the Jets can't compete with these teams, but there is also no reason to believe the Jets aren't capable of dropping every one of these games.
Last season's Jets schedule was the easiest in the NFL. This season, not so much. The Jets have plenty of talent on both sides of the ball, but also significant flaws in the secondary and at quarterback that must be solved or schemed around or they will be exploited by the better teams on the schedule. If the Jets are playoff material it will show over the next month. If not, the Jets could be all but eliminated from contention by Halloween.
Q: If you were speaking directly to a Seahawks fan (which I guess you are, as the purpose of these Q and As), who is one player on the Jets that you would implore them to keep an eye on because he's just that special and they'll get to tell their grandkids that they saw them in their heyday.
A: I think in the end Revis will be the one player on this team that is destined for the Hall of Fame. Unfortunately he is now past his prime. Nobody watching him for the first time today can have any inkling to how great he was from 2008 through 2014, particularly the crazy great level he reached in 2009. If you want a player who is just now approaching greatness, I'd go with Leonard Williams, the Jets first round draft pick in 2015. He was advertised as the best player in the 2015 draft, and so far he is not disappointing. A promising rookie campaign is being followed up by a dominant sophomore season. Williams may already be the best defensive lineman on a team featuring two other Pro Bowl defensive linemen in Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson. I'm not exactly guaranteeing it, but it wouldn't surprise me if in two or three years Williams is viewed as the best defensive lineman in the NFL. Yes, I know, J.J. Watt and all. But Watt in a couple of years will be pushing 30 and may not be at quite the insane level he is today. And I'm not sure I'd bet against Williams playing second fiddle to any other defensive lineman in the NFL at that point. As I said, no guarantees, but if you're asking for one player who is in his prime that a Jets fan might be talking about to their grandkids one day, that player is Leonard Williams.
Q: What is the health status of Darrelle Revis, Eric Decker, Matt Forte, and Ryan Clady? Do you expect them to play?
A: Revis, Forte and Clady's injuries are minor and are not expected to keep them out on Sunday or hinder their play. Decker is a bit more questionable. He may be getting an MRI on the shoulder he reinjured in the Chiefs game. At present his status for Sunday's game is uncertain, pending the results of the MRI.