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NY Jets vs. Tennessee Titans, Week 4 preview: Derrick Henry invades NJ

Michael Carter, Derrick Henry, MetLife Stadium
Michael Carter, Derrick Henry, MetLife Stadium, New York Jets, Tennessee Titans, Jet X Graphic, Getty Images

Robert Saleh’s 0-3 New York Jets seek their first victory in Week 4 against the Tennessee Titans.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ—It’s been some time since the New York Jets scored a touchdown. The NFL’s third-worst offense (250 yards per game) seeks its first touchdown since Week 1 in Carolina.

How Zach Wilson and Mike LaFleur fare Sunday against the Tennessee Titans is anybody’s best guess. While nobody can applaud the unit’s production, the competition has been fierce.

The Carolina Panthers, New England Patriots and Denver Broncos are all top-five defensive units throughout the first three weeks of the NFL season. (Of course, having played the Jets help those rankings as well.)

On the other side of the ball, Derrick Henry will look to keep the Titans’ ground game going. The Jets—coming off a poor defensive effort against the run in Denver—will have to stop Henry to have a shot at moving to 1-3.

Jets vs. Titans game info

  • New York Jets (0-3)
  • Tennesse Titans (2-1)
  • NFL, Week 4, Sunday, Oct. 3, 1 p.m. ET, CBS
  • MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
New York Jets, Tennessee Titans, 2021, Week 4 Preview,
New York Jets, Tennessee Titans, 2021, Week 4 Preview,, Jet X Graphic, Getty Images

Jets vs. Titans history

The Jets-Titans’ all-time history goes to the Tennessee-Houston franchise, 25-19-1.

Jets fans’ fonder memories of the all-time matchup include the 2008 game that featured Leon Washington running wild against a then-undefeated 10-0 Titans squad. The Brett Favre-led Jets moved to 8-3 while impressing (and shocking) the rest of the NFL.

Additionally, the 8-8 Jets that squeaked into the NFL playoffs in 1991 nearly pulled off a stunning upset against the mighty then-Houston Oilers. Despite a first-half Al Toon touchdown, Bruce Coslet’s squad fell 17-10 at the Astrodome.

Jets vs. Titans Odds (FanDuel Sportsbook)

  • Spread: Jets +6 (-115), Titans -6 (-105)
  • Moneyline: Jets +215, Titans -260
  • Over/Under: 44.5 (O: -106, U: -114)

Surprisingly, the Jets are just six-point underdogs in this one. Sure, the home-field advantage costs around three points, but even a nine-point-underdog status at this point doesn’t feel right.

Until the Jets prove they can actually record a touchdown, the number should be higher.

Injury Report

New York Jets, Tennessee Titans, 2021, Week 4, Injury Report
New York Jets, Tennessee Titans, 2021, Week 4, Injury Report, New York Jets Communications

New York Jets

  • Marcus Maye (Ankle): Out
  • Elijah Moore (Concussion): Out
  • Jeff Smith (Concussion): Out
  • Jamison Crowder (Groin): Questionable
  • Tyler Kroft (Rib): Questionable
  • La’Mical Perine (Illness, non-COVID-19): Questionable

When it rains, it pours; that’s just the way the weather works in and around Florham Park, NJ.

The newest injury at 1 Jets Drive is a Marcus Maye ankle. One of the Jets’ best defensive players will be out for the next 3-4 weeks, just in time for the trade deadline, something Maye’s agent wasn’t shy about publicly communicating.

Fortunately, Ashtyn Davis and Sharrod Neasman are both back on the active roster. Who starts as safety is anybody’s best guess right now, but expect Adrian Colbert to be one of the two starting safeties.

Elsewhere, wide receivers Elijah Moore and Jeff Smith will be out of action. Both weapons are dealing with head injuries for different reasons. Moore sustained a concussion last week in Denver, whereas Smith was involved in a car accident.

Denzel Mims will be active, per Saleh (and the Jets Twitter crowd goes wild). It also appears as though Jamison Crowder will play in his first game of the season. (Corey Davis is also set to take on his former team.)

Tennessee Titans

  • A.J. Brown (Hamstring): Out
  • Bud Dupree (Knee): Out
  • Caleb Farley (Shoulder): Out
  • Julio Jones (Hamstring): Out
  • Brett Kern (Groin): Out
  • Larrell Murchison (Elbow): Out

The injury report definitely favors the Jets (save for the IR situation). Star wide receivers A.J. Brown and Julio Jones are out of action, meaning Ryan Tannehill won’t have much at his disposal.

Jeff Ulbrich is now faced with an interesting scenario: How aggressively does he open up against an offense without Brown and Jones and that heavily relies on the rushing attack.

Jets’ keys to the game

Bully the 3-step game

LaFleur really missed out on a terrific opportunity last week in Denver. Why the rookie offensive coordinator called so many vertical-passing concepts is something that remains a mystery.

Vic Fangio’s quarters defense usually allows room in the underneath game. And while the Broncos played more man-to-man coverage than anybody expected, the three-step passing game was there for the taking.

New York’s second drive featured short-passing concepts and it worked to a considerable degree. Instead of thinking a true offensive coordinator-defensive coordinator chess match is already taking place—as often witnessed while working in San Francisco—LaFleur must realize he and his offense needs to crawl before it can walk.

The Jets offense needs to take whatever the defense gives them while also transparently trying to get the young quarterback going early.

Forget verticals, forget the rushing game and attack that short-passing game early and often until the Titans are forced to adjust.

Stop Derrick Henry

This one’s obvious yet so incredibly true: New York must stop Derrick Henry.

Considering Tannehill won’t have Brown or Jones at his disposal, stopping Henry is of the utmost importance. And it’s a tough task considering the youth and size of the Jets’ linebackers (save for C.J. Mosley).

New York Jets, Jets X-Factor

Jets vs. Titans Prediction

  • New York Jets 20, Tennessee Titans 26

Predicting a six-point loss is gracious enough. The most important aspect of this game is Zach Wilson’s performance.

Wilson needs to look confident and play semi-well. It’s step No. 1 in the New York Jets’ 2021 season at this very moment. Get the kid out of his own head and string a couple of weeks together.

Once that happens, discussion surrounding winning games can appropriately commence.

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