After a devastating blowout loss at the Titans last Sunday, the Jets are hoping to avoid the same fate in Atlanta on Monday night.
The Falcons are struggling at 1-3 and are in must-win mode if they want any chance of making the playoffs for a fourth straight season.
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Three things to watch for ...
1. Ball security
A week removed from rookie quarterback Geno Smith’s two interception and two fumbles lost performance at the Titans, the Jets will have to limit turning the ball over against a potent Falcons offense. The defense is good enough to keep them in this game if they can hold onto the ball and play a game of field position. It was a point of emphasis this week for the Jets, especially with Smith.
“He sure looked good. Some of that’s a mentality,” offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said. “In fact, much of it is - the ball security things. Just putting it on the table, this is a different deal in the NFL. The ball security, it is different. Our opponents are paid a lot of money to go after you - go after the ball. They’re drilled on it. They work on it every day. They’re bigger, stronger and faster. Normally, we’re talking about a running back or a receiver here in these situations and they learn the hard way, so I know that he’s learned an awful lot. Some of the positions that he got in now, ultimately it’s all my responsibility now, period, done. So, we’re working very hard at that.”
So far, Smith has thrown eight interceptions and has three fumbles lost this season. Growing pains are expected, but he’s hurting this team right now.
2. The skinny on Goodson
After a four-week suspension due to an offseason arrest and pending drug and gun charges, Mike Goodson returns to the Jets this week. Goodson returns at a good time with Chris Ivory, one of the two featured backs so far this season, likely out with a hamstring injury. While he may not do much on the field, as he’s still getting into football shape, he will surely help if he’s activated.
“It’s tough when you’ve been out that long to get out, so how many reps he plays ... I hope he plays,” head coach Rex Ryan said. “That’s what I’m hoping for.”
Goodson can also contribute on special teams as well.
3. Julio is en fuego
There may not be a better wide receiver in the NFL right now than Julio Jones, who is benefiting from quarterback Matt Ryan’s accuracy and control of the offense. So far this season, Jones has 33 receptions for 481 yards - both lead the league - and two touchdowns. Jones is on pace for 1,924 receiving yards this season, which would be the second-highest tally in a season in the history of the NFL. Not only is he fast, but he’s long and strong as well.
“It makes it difficult, but most receivers are big nowadays in this league, so he’s not the exception, he’s becoming more the rule. But when they put their body on you, you’ve got to fight it,” Jets defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman said. “It’s force against force. Otherwise, they’ll move you out of the way, jump over you and take the football from you. He caught a ball last week in the game that was one of the better catches I’ve seen. He just went up over two guys, made the catch and got them back in the ballgame.”
He’s also on pace for 132 receptions, a number that would be the second-most in league history for a season.
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.