SCREENS AND THINGS
The Jets completed seven passes to running backs Matt Forte and Bilal Powell last Sunday against the Dolphins. It’s something offensive coordinator John Morton envisioned when he took over as the play-caller this season. Forte and Powell are good at making plays on wheel routes and screens. Forte broke four tackles on the way to a 21-yard screen pass on third-and-19 and Powell started the game with 31 yards on a short pass. Both running backs have good vision in terms of getting up the field and reading blocks. Injuries have curtailed having Powell and Forte on the field for an entire game for the majority of the season.
With both healthy, expect more passes to the two.
“That’s just the tip of the iceberg,” Forte said. “If we averaged between 4 or 5 yards, it adds to the rushing game. We can get after teams that way and just keep rolling. [Rookie running back Elijah McGuire] can do the same thing. We got three backs that are capable of doing that pretty well and keeping it balanced.”
FALCONS COACH QUINN
IS A FAN OF WOODY, BOXING
Falcons coach Dan Quinn, born and raised in Morristown, New Jersey, interviewed in 2015 for the Jets’ head-coaching job that eventually went to Todd Bowles.
Quinn was hired by the Falcons, and after two seasons, he led them to Super Bowl LI, enduring a 34-28 loss to the Patriots in one of the biggest collapses in Super Bowl history.
Quinn, who had strong ties not only to the area but also to the Jets as their defensive line coach in 2007 and 2008, said the interview process included a meeting with owner Woody Johnson.
“At the time, I got a chance to visit with Woody,” Quinn said. “I’ve always had a lot of respect for Woody being there for two years and we both enjoyed the fight game.”
Earlier this season, the Jets faced the Jaguars, who were coached by Doug Marrone, another former Jets assistant coach, who was born in the Bronx. Marrone had also interviewed for the job that went to Bowles.
“That process for any coach to go through is an awesome thing, to talk about a team and their organization,” Quinn said. “The Jets is certainly an organization starting from ownership that I really respected.”
SO IS THE PASS RUSH SOLVED?
The Jets’ pass rush hasn’t produced like many thought it would this season. But in the loss to the Dolphins, the Jets had three sacks and a season-high 12 quarterback hits. For the majority of the season, the Jets have talked about execution as the main problem and health. Last week, defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson played his best game with one quarterback hit and an interception. He didn’t practice all week because of toe and shoulder issues. On game day, Wilkerson receives three pain injections, two in his shoulder, before the game and at halftime and one in his foot. It seemed by not practicing, Wilkerson was at his best.
“This is my seventh year in the league and like I’ve said all this season, I learned from veterans,” Wilkerson said. “Just keeping up to date on film, just being a pro in the classroom, that’s what it comes down to.”
Wilkerson isn’t alone, the Jets have blitzed their safeties, mainly strong safety Jamal Adams and they got tremendous push from inside linebacker Demario Davis and outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins.
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is normally a stationary target but he’s been sacked only 11 times this season.
“We still are not where we want to be,” defensive end Kony Ealy said. “We’re getting there and we will be there. We just got to stay the course and keep the grind going and get people off third down and stop the run. We have to do the little things.”
BIG PLAYS ON THE WAY?
Wide receiver Robby Anderson, the Jets’ top big-play threat, was seeing press coverage earlier in the season. Now Anderson said defenses are playing off him more often, which could lead to bigger plays down the field. On the season, Anderson has five receptions of 20 or more yards. John Morton isn’t afraid to spread the Jets offense out with four and five receivers. Anderson is someone who does well on go routes and on slants.
“He’s a big playmaker,” John Morton said. “He has really good speed and ball skills to catch the ball. I think all of our guys, if you look at our stat sheet, everybody’s catching balls. It’s pretty even. That’s the way we want it. Like I said before, we keep the defense off their toes, they can’t just concentrate on one guy. Everybody’s catching the ball. I think that’s the way we want to work things out.”
The Jets’ all-time record against the Falcons. Their last meeting was Oct. 7, 2013, a 30-28 Falcons victory at the Georgia Dome.
Consecutive road games that Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has thrown for at least 200 yards. This season, Ryan has completed 69.4 percent of his passes on the road with a quarterback rating of 96.8.
Average yards per carry by Jets’ opponents since Week 3, sixth-best in the NFL during that span. Opponents have averaged 24 attempts per game the last five weeks and the Jets are the only team in the NFL that hasn’t allowed a run more than 11 yards.