EA Q&A: It All Starts with Ivory

Jets Need Better 2nd-Quarter Production, Defensive Pressure Should Lead to Takeaways


EA: Lost in Thursday's gut-wrenching defeat to the Bills was Chris Ivory's second-half surge. Against a very good defense, Ivory carried 11 times for 76 yards over the final 30 minutes. That is 6.9 yards per clip and Ivory was back to punishing defenders on the second level. The Jets pride themselves on their balance and they'll need it against a Texans defense that is hitting its stride. The Texans, who lead the NFL in allowing just a 27% conversion rate on third down, have not allowed a touchdown in 10 quarters. While the Texans held Giovani Bernard (8-36) largely in check in their upset win over the Bengals, the Texans own the league's 25th-ranked rush defense (117.9 ypg) and they are ranked 24th in terms of yards per attempt (4.3 ypc). And don't forget about the reinstatement of WR Quincy Enunwa, a big-bodied blocker who at 6'2", 225 pounds can help the Jets on the ground.

EA: The Jets certainly have to improve in terms of complementary football. And the offense has started slow in two of the past three contests as Ryan Fitzpatrick went down early in Oakland and the Jets mustered only a field goal in 30 minutes of action against the Bills. But the Green & White have failed to produce a takeaway in three of their past four contests. If you think about early in the season, this team got momentum with first-quarter turnovers against the Browns (Calvin Pryor hit on Josh McCown), the Colts (Pryor INT of Andrew Luck) and the Jaguars (Marcus Williams INT after the Revis deflection). The most important offensive stat is scoring and the Jets rank 12thin the league at 24.1 points per contest and they currently are T-6 in net turnover points (+24). The Jets' patience might be tested against a Texans team that is playing excellent defensive ball at the moment. If both teams secure the football, this could become a field position game. And while the defense played well against the Bills, they still lamented a few missed tackles against the elusive LeSean McCoy. If they continue to get heat on the QB (10 sacks the past two weeks), eventually somebody is going to make a mistake.

EA: One game does not make a season and I don't buy into the theory that Ryan Fitzpatrick typically sees a late-season slide in production. In his final four games of action last season with the Texans, Fitzpatrick led Houston to a 3-1 record while completing 60.5% of his passes with 9 TD and 1 INT. Sure six of those scoring passes were in one game, but it's a winning business and the Texans won before he broke his leg vs. the Colts in December. Why even go back beyond that sampling? Fitz acknowledged that he did not play well early against the Bills as he completed just 5 of 17 in the first half. But he played a gutsy second half (10 of 17, 2TD-1NT) and let's see how the veteran responds after his surgical procedure to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb. Fitz did played mistake-free ball in Week 9, leading the Jets to a much-needed victory over the Jaguars.

EA: There is perception and there is reality. The Jets have been outscored by their opponents in one quarter this season and it's the 2nd quarter(87-47). The Green & White have outscored the opposition in the 1st (47-23), 3rd (62-26) and 4th (61-48) stanzas. While it would be outstanding to repeat the starts this team had against the Dolphins and the Jaguars, sometimes that is just not going to happen. So the defense has yielded the lowest output during the first quarter of games but has struggled the most in the second quarter. To me, it's all about momentum-changing plays. They can happen on offense, defense and/or special teams and the Jets need more of them. When they are most successful, the defense is turning the football over and the offense is a balanced unit that converts in the red zone. Unfortunately their red zone play against the Bills failed the Green & White.

EA: No, the scheme does not need to be changed. Todd Bowles and Kacy Rodgers like their multiplicity and they'll go back-and-forth with the game plan depending on the opponent. Calvin Pryor (ankle) is hopeful that he can return to the lineup this week and that could provide a significant boost for the secondary.  Antonio Cromartie was also moving around better Monday and he could be ready to face the Texans. Muhammad Wilkerson has been outstanding with a team-leading seven sacks and the Jets rush defense ranks No. 1 overall (88.1 ypg). One area where Coach Bowles would like to see improvement is the big plays in the air as the Green & White are T-26 in surrendering pass plays of 20+yards (35).

EA: Coach Bowles said Milliner has to get some practice reps and some legs underneath him first. While he could see some action Sunday, Bowles did bring up both RB Stevan Ridley and WR Devin Smith when talking about the return from injury. Milliner hasn't appeared in a game in more than a calendar year, so he'll have to take baby steps before you see him get significant playing time. While Sunday is not a must-win, Bowles acknowledged there is a greater sense of urgency after each loss.

EA: Here are FB Tommy Bohanon's offensive play counts this season: vs. CLV (12), @IND (29) vs. PHI (2), @ MIA (39), vs. WASH (18), @ NE (23), @ OAK (7), vs. JAX (24) and vs. BUF (19). Ivory is not a system back — he is a quality runner who can make it happen in different offenses. He does need room, though, to get going and I saw that once again in the second half against the Bills.

EA:Ridley made his debut on offense vs. the Bills, totaling three carries in eight offensive plays. While Zac Stacy fractured his ankle against the Bills, Bilal Powell could be back in the lineup soon as well.

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