Can Rex Ryan and the Jets End the Drought?
Rex Ryan will try to do something he's never done in the NFL on Sunday—beat the Baltimore Ravens. In fact, the New York Jets are just 1-7 against the expansion Ravens in their short history. After defeating them in their first ever meeting, New York has gone 0-for-7, with their lone victory in 1997—16 years ago.
New York enters Week 12 as one of the biggest surprises in the NFL. The Jets are 5-5—many didn't expect them to reach five wins all season—and the leaders of the sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC. Headed into Baltimore off of a staggering blowout defeat by the hands of the Buffalo Bills, the Jets now have to face a 4-6 Ravens team, desperate for a win to keep their postseason hopes alive.
Desperation is a term often overused in sports. Just because a team needs a win more doesn't mean they'll get one, no matter who the opponent. I'm sure the 0-16 Detroit Lions got pretty desperate, too, and we all saw how that played out. The Atlanta Falcons, 1-3 at the time, were playing at home and were desperate for a victory, but it was these same New York Jets that ran off the turf with the win. That being said, this is not going to be easy for Gang Green.
The rookie quarterback Geno Smith has regressed mightily in the last month, throwing one touchdown pass along with eight interceptions in his last five games. He's thrown four pick-sixes in his last four games. He was a non-factor in the blowout loss to Cincinnati in October, threw barely over 100 yards against New Orleans (without a turnover) and was rocked in Buffalo for his last three performances. In two of the last three games he's been pulled in the fourth quarter as the Jets found themselves down by multiple scores.
Now Smith faces another tough test in the Baltimore defense. This isn't your dad's Ravens defense. You can certainly pass the ball on them. The biggest key here is the Ravens defensive line against the Jets offensive line, and vice versa. In order to win games, you have to be strong up front on both offense and defense. Smith hasn't been effective lately—at all—but there's no question that the offensive line has let him down lately. Smith was under pressure constantly this past week against Buffalo and we all know that the Ravens have the talent up front to get to the quarterback.
The question stands: Can Rex Ryan—along with newly acquired former Baltimore safety Ed Reed—finally get the monkey off his back and beat his former team? We'll find out tomorrow.