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Jets vs. Saints preview

With no realistic chance of making the playoffs, do the Jets need motivation?

Jets head coach Todd Bowles during a game

Jets head coach Todd Bowles during a game against the Buccaneers Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. Photo Credit: AP / Steve Nesius

THE ROAD TO NOWHERE

The Jets have not been a very good road team. At 1-5 away from MetLife Stadium, the Jets average just 14.5 points and 224 yards of total offense. Coach Todd Bowles said the team didn’t do any extra analysis figuring out why.

He dismissed considering the sleep habits of the players on the road, or if it was a mental block or if traveling earlier to away games could solve the problem. When asked if the media is making too big a deal about it, Bowles said, “you’re making it worse than what it is.”

Bowles would only say a lack of execution is the biggest problem for the Jets on the road. Not finishing on the road — in which the Jets have been outscored in the fourth quarter 57-21 — is an issue, too.

On Sunday, the Jets take on the Saints in New Orleans at the Superdome where the loud environment will compound trying to win. Offensive coordinator John Morton used crowd noise, directed at the offensive huddle in practices, to help with the communication. The Jets won’t have 15-year veteran Josh McCown to deal with it. Instead, Bryce Petty will make his fifth career start in three seasons.

A struggling road team, a young quarterback and a Saints team that is 54-26 at home since 2008, present challenges for the Jets.

“But he’s played before and he’s played in big games in college,” Bowles said of Petty. “So it’ll be loud, he just has to tune it out and focus. It doesn’t present a big challenge for him. We’ve been preparing for it all week. He just has to execute.”

HACKENBERG GETS TO DRESS AGAIN

For only the second time in his career, 2016 second-round pick Christian Hackenberg will dress in a NFL game. The quarterback was inactive last season and was active for the season-opener as the backup with Bryce Petty recovering from a knee injury. With starter Josh McCown out for the season with a broken left hand, Petty becomes the starter and Hackenberg is the backup.

At least for the next three games, Hackenberg will dress in a uniform instead of sweats on game day.

“I’ve been ready, I’ve been prepared,” he said. “Putting the uniform on, that’s awesome. I think for me it’s to try and stay in the same mindset every day and continue to grow and continue to learn.”

Hackenberg said he’ll remain positive if he doesn’t play this season.

“I’m not a negative person,” he said. “If you dwell on that it will create more confusion and stuff. You don’t need to fill your brain space with it. For me, it’s about approaching every day and continue to get better. Target those things when you get opportunities, have fun and that’s how I look at it.”

A 1-2 PUNCH

The Saints’ two running backs, Mark Ingram II and Alvin Kamara, have rushed for more yards than the entire Jets’ offense. Ingram, sixth in rushing and Kamara, 21st, have combined for 1,579 yards on the ground. The Jets as a team have rushed for 1,341 yards.

The Saints utilize Ingram and Kamara in different ways. Ingram can lineup as a traditional back and fullback, and Kamara can switch among halfback, slot receiver and wide receiver.

“Two different style of running backs, both really good, and we have to stop the run,” defensive end Leonard Williams said. “I think that’s where we have to start off as a defense, just stopping the run. Then try to make them one-dimensional. We’ve played a lot of good running teams this year but this definitely will be one of those challenging offenses we have to play against.”

PLAYING FOR PRIDE

With no realistic chance of making the playoffs, do the Jets need motivation?

“It’s important,” linebacker Jordan Jenkins said of Sunday’s game at New Orleans. “It defines who you are as a person, who you are as a man, and in my mind, if you claim to be a real man, the real deal, you got to finish through. Guys are banged up. If you’re healthy, you got to finish. Only weak-willed men don’t finish what they start.”

One thing the Jets could try to achieve is avoiding a last place finish in the AFC East. The Jets finished in last place twice the last three seasons, once under Todd Bowles. A second consecutive last place finish in the division wouldn’t look good. However, the schedule is very difficult.

The next three opponents are playing for something, starting Sunday with the Saints (9-4), who are tied with the Panthers for first place in the NFC South. The home finale on Christmas Eve has playoff implications for the Chargers (7-6) who are tied with the Chiefs for first in the AFC West.

Then there’s the regular season finale at New England (10-3) on New Year’s Eve. That game might not mean anything because the Pats could have the No. 1 or No. 2 seed already secured in the AFC. Still, the Jets have lost their last eight games in Foxborough.

“We just got to come out with the energy and we got to be focused no matter what it is,” cornerback Morris Claiborne said. “People can say we don’t have a chance for the playoffs. What are you playing for? We’re playing for a lot. We’re playing for pride, we’re playing [to see] if we can ruin other people’s chances in any way that we can. We’re going out to compete and win the football game.”

13

Number of field goals the Jets’ Chandler Catanzaro has made from 40-plus yards this season. Overall, he’s hit on 84 percent (21-for-25) of his attempts.

400.7

Yards per game by the Saints’ offense, ranked No. 1 in the NFL.

400.7

Yards per game by the Saints’ offense, ranked No. 1 in the NFL.

A 1-2 PUNCH

The Saints’ two running backs, Mark Ingram II and Alvin Kamara, rushed for more yards than the entire Jets’ offense. Ingram, sixth in rushing and Kamara, 21st, combine for 1,579 yards. The Jets have rushed for 1,341 yards this season as a team.

The Saints utilize Ingram and Kamara in different ways. Ingram can lineup as a traditional back and fullback, Kamara can move from halfback, slot receiver to wide receiver.

“Two different style of running backs, both really good, and we have to stop the run,” defensive end Leonard Williams said. “I think that’s where we have to start off as a defense, is just stopping the run. Then try to make them one-dimensional. We’ve played a lot of good running teams this year but this definitely will be one of those challenging offenses we have to play against.”

HACKENBERG GETS TO DRESS AGAIN

For only the second time in his career, 2016 second-round pick Christian Hackenberg will dress in a NFL game. The quarterback was inactive last season and was active for the season-opener as the backup with Bryce Petty recovering from a knee injury. With starter Josh McCown out for the season with a broken left hand, Petty becomes the starter and Hackenberg is the backup.

At least for the next three games, Hackenberg will dress in a uniform instead of sweats on game day.

“I’ve been ready, I’ve been prepared,” he said. “Putting the uniform on, that’s awesome. I think for me it’s to try and stay in the same mindset every day and continue to grow and continue to learn.”

Hackenberg said he’ll remain positive if he doesn’t play this season.

“I’m not a negative person,” he said. “If you dwell on that it will create more confusion and stuff. You don’t need to fill your brain space with it. For me, it’s about approaching every day and continue to get better. Target those things when you get opportunities, have fun and that’s how I look at it.”

PLAYING FOR PRIDE

With no realistic chance of making the playoffs, do the Jets need motivation?

“It’s important,” linebacker Jordan Jenkins said of Sunday’s game at New Orleans. “It defines who you are as a person, who you are as a man, and in my mind, if you claim to be a real man, the real deal, you got to finish through. Guys are banged up. If you’re healthy, you got to finish. Only weak-willed men don’t finish what they start.”

One thing the Jets could try to achieve is avoiding a last place finish in the AFC East. The Jets finished in last place twice the last three seasons, once under Todd Bowles. A second consecutive last place finish in the division wouldn’t look good. However, the schedule is very difficult.

The next three opponents are playing for something, starting Sunday with the Saints (9-4), who are tied with the Panthers for first place in the NFC South. The home finale on Christmas Eve has playoff implications for the Chargers (7-6) who are tied with the Chiefs for first in the AFC West.

Then there’s the regular season finale at New England (10-3) on New Year’s Eve. That game might not mean anything because the Pats could have the No. 1 or No. 2 seed already secured in the AFC. Still, the Jets have lost their last eight games in Foxborough.

“We just got to come out with the energy and we got to be focused no matter what it is,” cornerback Morris Claiborne said. “People can say we don’t have a chance for the playoffs. What are you playing for? We’re playing for a lot. We’re playing for pride, we’re playing [to see] if we can ruin other people’s chances in any way that we can. We’re going out to compete and win the football game.”

13

Number of field goals the Jets’ Chandler Catanzaro has made from 40-plus yards this season. Overall, he’s hit on 84 percent (21-for-25) of his attempts.

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