The Jets have to bounce back quickly following a 27-19 loss to the Bears on Monday night. It won’t be an easy task to play a second straight home game against a team with legitimate playoff aspirations, and the Jets could really use a win following two straight losses in tight games.
The Monday night loss to Chicago was also the second consecutive loss to an NFC North team and they will face a Lions team coming off a high from last week. They put in a very solid performance on both sides on the ball this past Sunday, beating the Packers at home. The Jets lost to Green Bay in Week 2.
The Jets have a legitimate chance to win if their secondary holds up and the offense, specifically Geno Smith, limits turnovers.
They will also need to get lucky on the injury front with Dee Milliner and Eric Decker as question marks heading into the weekend.
Metro takes a look at three storylines to watch for as the Jets take on the 2-1 Lions this Sunday (1 p.m., Fox).
1. Learn from your mistakes
Quarterback Geno Smith had two poor interceptions in last week’s prime time loss to the Bears — one of which was a first quarter pick-six that put the Jets in an early hole they would never come back from. Smith must bounce back with safe, smart and efficient football against Detroit. The turnovers have to go, which is something the Jets have preaching since last season.
If his decision-making doesn’t improve, then an undue burden will be placed on the defense and they can only keep the Jets in the game for so long.
“I am always going to be a little mad after a game,” Smith said. “Understanding the big picture, we have a short week, quick turnaround, [and] I can’t harp on that for too long.”
What he must do is not just see and understand his mistakes but also translate that onto the field.
“In the heat of the moment, you’re out there playing and you want to be natural,” Smith said of playing not to make mistakes. “Coaches will tell you that you always have to play natural and be yourself because that is what got you here. Situational football is ... something that we harp on, we key on.”
2. Ground and pound again
The ground game, currently third in the NFL, was always going to be a strength of the Jets.
But the off season addition of Chris Johnson hasn’t paid off in dividends like expected. Instead, the load has been carried by Chris Ivory. Early in the week leading up to the Lions game, head coach Rex Ryan said he expects to give Ivory more carries in response to his strong start to the season.
What he wasn’t saying was that Ivory’s workload would far outweigh Johnson and fellow running back Bilal Powell.
“I guess what I was saying is I recognize the fact that this guy’s running hard, and if that’s the case then we can definitely see him carrying the ball a little more,” Ryan said. “But again, we think we have three backs, three really capable backs.”
Surprisingly, Powell has just seven carries this year but is averaging 4.7 yards a pop. He’s also a capable receiver out of the backfield, with 36 catches last season.
The Jets might want to explore using him a little bit more out of the backfield to balance out the offense.
3. Kings of the jungle
The Jets will face a very tough test in the Lions defense. The high-octane Packers offense managed just 233 yards of total offense against Detroit last week, with quarterback Aaron Rodgers limited to 162 yards and one touchdown. For comparison sake, Rodgers threw for 346 yards and three touchdowns in Week 2 against the Jets.
Lions head coach Jim Caldwell credited his team’s depth and pass rush in limiting the Packers’ quarterback.
“In terms of the guys that played, the entire defense played well last week,” Caldwell said. “But, just like anything else, last week was last week. We’re on to a new week and we are faced with an even greater challenge.”
The Jets come into Week 4 with the No. 18 passing offense. While that is a significant improvement from this time last year, it is still a unit that is rather ordinary at times. It’s a matchup that doesn’t bode well for the Jets.
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.