Both the Jets and Seahawks enter Sunday’s tilt banged up and with question marks surrounding key players.
Sitting at 1-2 and desperately needing a win, the Jets will need to take advantage of the plights facing the Seahawks (2-1). First and foremost, the visitors will be engaging in an early 1 p.m. kickoff, which should affect their collective body clocks – and it’s worth noting the Seahawks lost both games last year when traveling to the East Coast and playing a 1 p.m. game.
Second, quarterback Russell Wilson is coming to MetLife Stadium hobbled, dealing with a sprained MCL. And if he can’t go, it’ll be up to undrafted rookie Trevone Boykin to pick up the slack.
Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll noted that Wilson has been “doing remarkably well” and has been a full participant in practice this week, adding he’d “be surprised” if his quarterback can’t play. Wilson himself added he’s “pretty determined” to face the Jets and has done everything he can to be ready, including waking up in the middle of the night for treatments and admitting that he’ll be donning a knee brace for the game.
A highly-competitive player, the Jets should certainly prepare for Wilson to suit up and start. How long he lasts will be up to Gang Green’s vicious pass rush. They’ll need to replicate their defensive performance from the last time they played at home, when they sacked Bengals’ quarterback Andy Dalton seven times and mauled him on several other pass attempts. Wilson is one of the more feared scrambling quarterbacks in the league, but with a bulky knee brace, he may be a sitting duck.
If the Jets’ pass rush gets to him early and often, it’ll increase their chances of knocking off the Seahawks and getting back to .500.
Metro takes a look at other key storylines to watch, as the Seahawks visit MetLife Stadium.
1. Dimming star power
Wilson isn’t the only star player whose malady can slow him down or even keep him out of the lineup, as the Jets are dealing with issues as well. Eric Decker’s shoulder got banged up in the Kansas City loss and has been undergoing tests. Brandon Marshall is still hobbled from his knee and foot injury that he suffered in Week 2 at Buffalo. Rookie wideout and primary return specialist Jalin Marshall is out with an injured labrum. Cornerback Darrelle Revis didn’t practice on Wednesday, due to an ankle issue – although head coach Todd Bowles said it shouldn’t be an issue come Sunday. And both running back Matt Forte (knee) and left tackle Ryan Clady (shoulder) have been limited in practice all week. All but the wideouts should be fully recovered by Sunday, but they’ll need Marshall and Decker to be as close to ready as possible. Because if the Jets’ two best receivers aren’t able bodied, there’s no chance New York beats Seattle shorthanded.
2. Picking up the slack
With the star receivers hobbled, look for a lot of the offense to run through Forte. It would likely have been the gameplan anyway, just to keep the aggressive Seahawks honest, as to not key on simply stopping the passing game. The all-purpose running back has gotten off to a fast start this season (sixth-best 261 yards) and has picked up an admirer along the way.
“Matt Forte is obviously a Hall of Famer,” said Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett. “There are a lot of running backs in the NFL that get so much credit. and then there are some that don’t get any credit. I think Matt Forte is a guy that gets discredited a lot. If you look at the way that he runs the ball, the way that he catches, he gets credit because he is a complete back. He does everything that a running back is supposed to do, whether it’s blocking, catching, screen game, draw game, running, he’s just a great player all around. And if you’re not ready, he can cut back and he’s always getting positive yards.”
Bennett is very critical and outspoken of players – especially ones he dislikes -- so those kudos means he earnestly believes Forte can be a major disruption on Sunday.
3. Legion of Boom
Not only do they have a great nickname, but the Seahawks’ secondary is one of the best units in the league. Through three games, Seattle has the No. 1 defense, allowing just 250 total yards per game and 12 points per contest. Richard Sherman and co. are a mighty test for any receiving corps, let alone one that’s as banged up the Jets will field on Sunday. The Seahawks haven’t allowed a receiving touchdown all season, not good news for a Jets offense that has had struggles in the red zone.