The Jets square up against Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers this Sunday (8pm ET) at the Metlife Stadium. The sub par performance of the offense during the first two pre-season games has somewhat overshadowed the solid performance of the defense.
Saturday was a familiar site as the O-line wilted (once again) against the formidable pass rush of the Giants. Whilst the spotlight will once again shine brightly on certain individuals within that group, I'm turning my attention to the defense.
Any doubts/concerns about the secondary (particularly the safeties) have somewhat been answered by the acquisition of LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell, backed up the rookie Antonio Allen who's impressed throughout camp and pre-season. Don't be fooled into thinking that these are the guys that will bring the Pats TE's juggernaut to a halt, but its certainly an upgrade on what we had last season (if they remain healthy).
This Sunday brings a new new test for the defense as unlike both the Bengals and the Giants the Panthers have a formidable running game, that averaged 150.5 yds. Concerns surrounded Cam Newton before the beginning of last season with many questioning if Cam could replicate his rushing prowess of his college days in the NFL. With 706 yards rushing, 14 rushing TD's (an NFL record for a QB) Cam also gained 51 first downs. Cam backed up his running game its easy to say Cam poured cold water on his doubters. Cam backed up his running game with 4051 passing yds, the only downside to Cam's rookie season would be the 17 interceptions.
Whilst the Jets defense has performed stoutly against the run during the first two games, the emphasis will not just be about containing Cam as the Panthers have a formidable running game, in the form of running backs DeAngelo Williams and Johnathan Stewart who combined for 1597 yards, scoring 17 TD's during 2011. One to keep an eye on down the field will be the intriguing match-up between Darrell Revis and Steve Smith, who bounced back from a disappointing 2010 season in impressive form with 1394 yards from 70 receptions scoring 7 TD's.
Food for thought, what we'd give to have our former blocking tight end back Ben Hartsock, who returns to the Metlife Stadium this Sunday.