The New York Jets 2021 season has taken a dark turn already and we haven’t even hit Week 4 yet.
Fans are calling for Joe Douglas’ head, teammates are beginning to turn on one another, and some are even about-facing on the Robert Saleh hire. A 26-0 shutout loss will do that to a fanbase that has not witnessed postseason success since 2010.
The franchise could use an upset victory in the worst way possible, and the Tennessee Titans look like a team that’s ripe for a let-down. This defense has allowed 28.0 points per game (PPG) over their first three contests, which is the eighth-most in the NFL. For reference, here are where the Jets’ first three opponents rank on that list.
- Carolina Panthers, 10.0 PPG (second-least in NFL).
- New England Patriots, 17.0 PPG (fifth-least in NFL).
- Denver Broncos, 8.7 PPG (least in NFL).
They’re also on a two-game win streak with a healthy lead in the AFC South over the Indianapolis Colts and Jacksonville Jaguars (both 0-3) and a one-game lead over the Houston Texans — who just lost their starting quarterback in Tyrod Taylor.
This all lines up as a spot where the heavily-favored Titans might let their guard down. The kicker? Word is that their number one wide receiver is unlikely to suit up in Week 4.
ALL the latest Jets news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Jets newsletter here!
A.J. Brown ‘Week-to-Week’ With Hamstring Injury
On September 27, Adam Schefter tweeted that star-wideout A.J. Brown “has a strained hamstring and is expected to be considered week-to-week.” New York Post reporter Brian Costello then relayed the positive news to Jets fans.
“Sounds like Titans top WR will be out,” translated Costello. We’ll have to wait on the official injury report to be sure but Brown will most likely start as questionable or doubtful based on this news. It appears he’ll miss one game at the least, possibly more.
As far as Jets fans are concerned, doctor’s orders will almost certainly advise the dynamic third-year pro to take the week off and rest that leg.
It’s been a slow start for Brown in general, even before the injury. The playmaker has only caught seven out of 19 targets in 2021, for 92 yards. All seven of those receptions did go for first downs, however, with one touchdown and an astonishingly low 36.8% catch rate.
Over his first two seasons in the NFL, Brown has made a name for himself with over 2,100 receiving yards spread out evenly and over 120 receptions. The WR1 earned Pro Bowl honors in 2020 and had high expectations in 2021.
Follow the Heavy On Jets Facebook page, where you can weigh in on all the latest NYJ-related daily content, analysis, features and more!
Titans Roll Call at WR
Jets free-agent acquisition Corey Davis used to be Brown’s partner in crime in Tennessee, but now veteran Julio Jones has taken his place. The former Atlanta Falcons cornerstone has been hit or miss since joining the Titans.
In three games, Jones had one big outing and two quiet ones. That’s added up to 12 catches off 18 targets, with 204 yards and eight first downs. The 128-yard Week 2 performance was against the Seattle Seahawks, while the stinkers were against the Arizona Cardinals and the aforementioned Colts.
The 32-year old WR should slot into the number one role, assuming he’s healthy, but the talent drops off after that. Slot receiver Chester Rogers and 2020 UDFA Nick Westbrook-Ikhine are next in yardage with former Los Angeles Rams receiver Josh Reynolds as another reserve option.
The offensive game plan is more likely to involve a heavy dosage of one man with Brown sidelined, running back Derrick Henry. The powerhouse of a rusher has been known to get the ball often, averaging over 20-plus carries per game in the past three seasons. He’s averaging an absurd 26.7 attempts per game in 2021 so far.
This Titans defense is susceptible and the multifaceted attack becomes one-dimensional without Brown. Pair that with a shaky offensive line and a quarterback in Ryan Tannehill that isn’t going to do too much on his own, and you have a recipe for an upset. Of course, the Jets will have to stop Henry and score points to do so, two things they’ve struggled with all season.