The first two weeks of the season the Jets ran into the herd of Buffalo and the Black Hole buzzsaw that are Bills and Raiders home openers. Sunday, it's their turn as they open their MetLife Stadium schedule against their long-time foes, the Dolphins. As Muhammad Wilkerson said, the players are seeking "a little excitement, a little extra juice" from the fans to help get them off their 0-2 schneid.
One of those fans in the stands most eager to kick it off is Christopher Johnson, the Jets chairman and CEO while Woody Johnson serves as U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom.
"I hope the fans will buy into our plan," Johnson said this week. "I'm extraordinarily excited about seeing the development of our young players especially. I think they're going to see this team grow before their eyes.
"I think it's going to be an exciting season. I can't wait for this first home game."
Here are seven points of discussion for the Jets' 58th home opener and their eighth against the Dolphins:
1. Home Sweet HomeThe Jets have had a healthy rivalry with the 'Fins. They hold margins of 53-49-1 all-time, 28-23 at home and 19-14 in their two Meadowlands stadiums. Miami holds the upper hand in Jets' home openers, 4-3, but the Jets won the first, by 29-7 in '67 with Joe Namath throwing three touchdown passes, and the most recent, by 17-7 in 2005 with Chad Pennington firing two TDs. A harbinger for Josh McCown and the Jets' offense? Johnson and the Green & White fans are hopeful.
2. Kearse's New DigsMcCown's best friend in the passing game has been WR Jermaine Kearse, who talked about how his first week as a Jet after the trade with Seattle was a blur but then last week things slowed down. Remarkably, his 11 catches, 123 yards and two touchdowns are team-leading numbers. Next up, the lifelong Washington Stater debuts as a Jet in his new East Coast office. Kearse has played three games at MetLife as a pro — wins over the Jets in '16, the Giants in '13 and the Broncos in SB XLVIII, when he broke four tackles on a memorable 23-yard TD jaunt.
3. Wake-Up CallMiami LDE Cameron Wake had a quiet opener — two tackles, no sacks — at the Chargers, but it could be explained by the week before, when he was the last Dolphin to leave South Florida, remaining with his family as Hurricane Irma blew threw. "There's a quote," he told the Palm Beach Post, "I'd rather be in a bad situation with you guys than safe and warm by myself." He's been known to make bad situations for the Green & White — he's tied for the most strip sacks by an opponent in Jets history, four, with three coming in last season's two games. RT Brandon Shell, McCown and the offense need to be a-wake at all times.
4. Friends Until KickoffIt'll be thick with handshakes and back pats before this one. McCown and Dolphins QB Jay Cutler, signed in August, were teammates for three years on the Bears. McCown on Cutler: "We're close friends." Cutler on McCown: "I love the guy." They also played in Chicago with Matt Forte. Miami HC Adam Gase coached with all three, including McCown at Detroit in '06. But the Jets can't be distracted by the pregame fraternity. Gase was 2-0 over the Green & White last year, and Cutler in his career vs. the Jets is 3-0 with a 97.1 passer rating.
5. Another Grand HurdleSpeaking of Forté, the 10th-year RB struggled with the rest of the offense in the Jets' opener at Buffalo. Last week was more Forté-fied as he gained 91 yards from scrimmage at 7.6 yards/touch. With 79 more yards, he'll become the 34th player in NFL history to reach 14,000 YFS. Since he's averaged 102 yards/game in his distinguished career, "the Work Horse" could well plow his way onto that plateau with an all-around game against the Dolphins.
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6. Triple-Threat LandryJets DBs, beware of Jarvis Landry. The Dolphins' WR, like Jets S Jamal Adams a product of the LSU program, had 13 catches vs. the Chargers but for only 78 yards. However, the Jets know the damage he can do — he has two 100-yard receiving games and averages six catches and 84 YFS in six career games. Finally, watch out for the option pass. Landry threw an incompletion vs. LA and did the same vs. the Jets last year. You just know he's eager to hurt his division rivals any way he can.
7. Making a ListThe Jets' defense has underperformed. The run defense, top-three in the NFL in recent years, is last after two games in yards/game, 30th in yards/carry. Pass rush, a preseason strength, is 30th with two sacks. Takeaway optimism hasn't panned out yet with one INT on the season's opening drive. "Coach talked about it," Wilkerson said. "Whoever had mental errors the last game, make sure you don't show up on the list again this week. So we've got to make sure we do our job." As for his sore shoulder, Mo said that was "no concern at all."