The Jets' young field general knows a ground battle awaits Sunday afternoon as the Jets look to get to .500 at the quarter pole with a win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
"They're going to try to run the ball down your throat," said rookie S Marcus Maye. "If you control the run game, you can do a lot with your offense. They try to get [Leonard] Fournette and all those backs the ball. They load up at the line of scrimmage and try to run it right at you, so you have to be prepared for that type of game."
The Jets were excellent against the run in Week 3, limiting the Dolphins to just 30 yards on the ground. After three games, the Jets rank 14th in pass defense while yielding 214.3 yards per game. Maye, who has 14 total tackles, is the man patrolling the skies for a group had done a good job not letting the ball get over their heads.
"Being that free safety back there, that's what you have to do and that's what comes with the responsibility. I've just been doing it all my life," Maye said of communicating and getting his teammates lined up. "I try to get better and find different ways to get better, watch my opponent, watch the quarterback, watch what he's looking at and watch what the receivers are trying to do. Just being that floor general back there."
Minus Jacksonville No. 1 target Allen Robinson for the season, Allen Hurns (12-144-2TD) and Marquise Lee (11-141) have become Blake Bortles' favorite targets on the outside. But TE Marcedes Lewis, a grizzly veteran in his 12th NFL season, had three touchdown receptions last week.
"You have to try to cut his angles off and get your hands on him early, making sure you're in his pocket," said Maye of the 6'6", 267-pound Lewis. "You can't let him get out in space because he can move pretty well for his size. He's shifty — don't let his size fool you. You have to be ready to go. He can run all the routes, so you have to be prepared for whatever he has coming."
The Jets have exciting versatility and depth at the safety position. Maye and fellow rookie Jamal Adams continue to impress, veteran Terrence Brooks is the reigning AFC Defensive Player of the Week and Rontez Miles is nearing a return. Against the Dolphins, the Jets featured a three-safety look.
"We can all do so many different things. One play, I can be here and Jamal will be here and Terrence will be there," Maye said. "And the next play, it can be totally different. Coach put the package together probably like two weeks ago and said we were going to run it. We ran it all week and he called it in the game and it played out just like he planned it."
Adams will get his first crack at Fournette in game action, but this is old hat for Maye. The UF product saw Fournette a pair of times in the Southeastern Conference and he's ready to resume acquaintances on Sunday.
"That LSU-Florida game is always physical. You look forward to those game, you look forward to going against guys like that," Maye said. "It's just part of the game, it's fun."