Jets vs. Buccaneers: 3 things to watch

Geno Smith did not look ready to start in his first extended NFL action. Credit: Getty Images
All eyes will be on Geno Smith in his first career NFL start.
Credit: Getty Images

How the Jets respond to an offseason of turnover both at the top of the organization, with a new general manager, and on the roster remains to be seen.

A popular pick at the bottom of most power rankings, the Jets are likely a better team in terms of talent than the one that went 6-10 last year. The defense is faster and more athletic and the offensive line is improved.

But all of that may not matter if they don’t get more production from the quarterback position. Mark Sanchez is who he is and rookie Geno Smith, the starter for Week 1, looked every bit a rookie in his only start of preseason when he threw three interceptions.

That must have a Buccaneers secondary, which on paper looks like one of the best in the league, licking their lips.

Three things to watch for …

1. Rattle Geno early, rattle him often

A rookie quarterback making his first NFL start will have a rough enough time in his own right, but Smith will likely have it worse. Smith is transitioning from a spread offense at West Virginia to being under center and must overcome challenges with his footwork and reading the game. Expect a Greg Schiano defense to come after him hard and fast.

“I expect everything — many different looks. I expect pressure, especially early. They’ll try and rattle my cage. Schiano is a guy who I’ve faced in college so we have some familiarity there, but I expect everything,” Smith said. “I expect those guys to come out fired up. They want to make a statement. They’re [facing] a rookie quarterback, [so they] definitely want to hit me, [and] get me out of my game. I expect those things and I look forward to it.”

Schiano wouldn’t tip his hand on Wednesday in a conference call with the media, saying “we’re going to do what we do.”

2. Revis not so green

Even the most diehard Jets fan will feel a little wistful on Sunday with the return of Darrelle Revis to the field — as a Buccaneer. The Jets’ most-dominant defensive player ever was traded away this offseason with the team likely unable to afford his services after this season. After an offseason of rehab following a knee injury that limited him to just three games last year, Revis could well be on the field to face his old team.

“We’ll see at the end of the week if he feels like he’s ready to go,” Schiano said. “Then he’s going to be out there playing and I hope that’s the case because I think he can really help our team.”

Now entering his seventh year in the league, the previous six with the Jets, Revis is a four-time Pro Bowl selection who changes the dynamic of an offense’s game plan.

3. The running game

With running back Shonn Greene gone via free agency, the Jets have only one running back who was on the roster last year — Bilal Powell. That isn’t a bad thing, as Powell is a good fit in the Jets’ new West Coast offense. He possesses good hands out of the backfield and is a good blocker, plus he is patient in waiting for holes to develop. Chris Ivory, acquired in a trade from the Saints, will be a nice change of pace from Powell. When Mike Goodson returns from suspension in Week 5, the Jets will have a deep backfield. Plus, rookie fullback Tommy Bohanon has done well in training camp and preseason.

Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.


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