3TFO: Jets @ Seahawks, Week 10
New York travel across the country to visit the Seahawks this Sunday in what could be the make-or-break moment for the Jets’ season. At 3-5, another loss would mean that New York would have to win out just to get to 10 wins and have a realistic chance at making the playoffs. Unfortunately for the Jets they are traveling to one of the best home field advantages in the NFL, to play a team that doesn’t like to give up points.
The Seahawks give up only 17.1 points per game, and the Jets score only 21.0 points per game. The good news for the Jets is they are coming off a bye week that came at just the right time. The team was last seen taking an uninspired 30-9 beatdown at the hands of the Dolphins where Mark Sanchez played his worst grade of the season and calls for Tim Tebow grew louder and louder. It will be Sanchez that gets the ball again though this Sunday, and it could be his last chance to turn this team around.
To get to 5-4, the Seahawks have had to lean heavily on their defense, but now it appears as though rookie quarterback Russell Wilson and the offense is starting to come around. More importantly, Wilson is showing more of the accuracy that made him the top-rated passer in all of college football last season. Wilson had Accuracy Percentages of 86.4 and 84.8 the past two weeks and the Seahawks averaged 27 points per game in those two. He will be going up against a much better pass defense this week, as the Jets have allowed only 206 yards per game against and a 56.0 completion percentage. Both quarterbacks will have their work cut out for them in this one.
Here is what I’ll be watching:
Stifling the Edge Rushers
Objective No. 1 for the Jets’ passing game this week has to be keeping Sanchez upright. While they’ve done a good job in that department so far this season (allowing pressures on only 31.2% of drop-backs, which is about average), the problem is Sanchez has been dreadful when facing pressure. He has an Accuracy Percentage of only 48.4 when under pressure and a quarterback rating of 51.6. Compare this to his 80.6 quarterback rating when not under pressure and the importance of this is magnified.
The Jets’ tackles have a tall task in front of them, though. D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Austin Howard will be matched up with Chris Clemons and Bruce Irvin and the advantage coming in goes to Seattle. Clemons and Irvin are the 10th- and third–ranked 4-3 ends in Pass Rushing Productivity, respectively, coming in to the game, while Ferguson and Howard are 10th and 55th in Pass Blocking Efficiency. Keep an eye on the considerable mismatch between Howard and Irvin, who plays over 80% of his snaps on the left side. Look for the Jets to run a lot on first and second downs to try and avoid too many obvious pass rushing situations and keep Sanchez from having to make too many throws under pressure.
All Day to Throw
PFF just released our newest Signature Stat this week that shows a quarterback’s average Time To Throw. Rookie Wilson was right at the top of the list with an average time of 3.14 seconds. The Jets’ defense has been so poor at creating pressure this year that that number may very well go up this Sunday. One of Wilson’s best attributes has been his ability to extend a play. When he does, he loves to go deep and he has been successful in doing so. Wilson throws the ball over 20 yards 15.4% of the time, the second-highest percentage in the league (Joe Flacco 17%). On those deep balls, he has thrown six touchdowns and four interceptions with a yards per attempt of 12.4.
The Jets would rather see Wilson stay in the pocket, but they will have to get some sort of pass rush to achieve this. PFF has the Jets ranked as the second-worst pass rushing team in the NFL. In a 3-4 defense like they run, traditionally a majority of the pass rush comes from the outside linebackers; the problem has been that their outside linebackers are run stuffers. New York has generated only 11 sacks on the year and none of their outside linebackers have a positive pass rushing grade (while all have a positive run defense grade). The player to watch this week is Calvin Pace. Pace hasn’t ever been a good pass rusher, but his matchup against the struggling Breno Giacomini (51st in Pass Blocking Efficiency) is one that the Jets need to win.
The 12th man
I would be remiss to talk about this game without at least mentioning the Seahawks’ amazing home and road difference so far this season. At home they are undefeated having beaten four teams with a combined record of 19-15 in the Cowboys, Packers, Patriots, and Vikings. Away from CenturyLink Field has been a different story. On the road they are 1-4 having played only one team with a winning record. Much of this discrepancy can be traced right back to the quarterback of the Seahawks. Wilson has a combined grade of +2.4 on the road with eight interceptions and a grade of +12.6 at home with none.
So what can the Jets do to win on the road? Quite simply, they have to have success running the ball. The Seahawks’ defense held Tony Romo, Aaron Rodgers, and Tom Brady to a combined grade of +3.3 (and Christian Ponder to -5.5). This means that Sanchez is likely to have a hard time staying in the green this week. The Vikings showed last week that Seattle’s run defense isn’t infallible, putting up 243 yards and 9 yards per carry. If the Jets have any hope of moving the ball consistently, it will have to be on the ground.
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