Every week during the season, we’ll scout out the Jets' next opponent. This week, that opponent is the Tennessee Titans.
Perspective can be a funny thing.
Watching the Jets on a weekly basis can make it hard to believe that any team in the league could be in such dire straits as the ones Rex Ryan is trying to navigate. And then comes a stretch of the schedule that puts the Cardinals, Jaguars and TItans on the opposite side of the field.
All of a sudden, the Jets' problems don't seem quite as bad. They might be lacking a quarterback, but their situation is still somehow better than the ones in Arizona or Jacksonville. Tennessee could be in the same dark place as those teams if Jake Locker doesn't wind up panning out.
Titans owner Bud Adams put the entire team on notice after a 51-20 loss to the Bears earlier this season, saying that everyone from the front office down to the 53rd man on the roster would be evaluated. They dumped their offensive coordinator a few weeks ago, and coach Mike Munchak could be on his way to dead man walking status with just a little bit more of a push in the losing direction.
Their offensive line has been blown apart by injuries and they've lost five games by this season by more than 20 points. And they're riding a three-game losing streak that's seen them turn the ball over 10 times into this Sunday's game.
It is, in short, a bad football team. More importantly, they are a worse football team than the Jets.
That leaves them with very little reason not to continue this improbable and almost surely quixotic quest for a playoff spot with a win this weekend. Here's a few of the guys trying to stop them from getting it.
Chris Johnson 2.0 - Johnson isn't back to the halcyon days of 2009 when he ran for 2,006 yards and 14 touchdowns, but he's a lot closer than he was in a disastrous 2011 season that led people to wonder if the Titans might cut him. That's probably off the table, although Johnson's numbers have cratered with the offensive line falling apart and he might not have the space to hammer away at the Jets this weekend.
The Locker Uncertainty - Because of rookie quarterbacks like Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck, there's an expectation that young quarterbacks will hit the ground at full speed in the NFL. That's not what Locker has done and the Titans merely hope to see him pick up some momentum before the end of the year so they know they haven't committed to a player going nowhere.
Defensive Indifference - The Titans' best defensive player might be linebacker Akeem Ayers, the kind of versatile player who tends to do everything well enough without excelling at anything in particular. Players like that are a lot more useful when they aren't the best you're putting on the field.
Breakout or Breakdown - When Kenny Britt is healthy and out of police custody, he's a game-changing receiver of the highest order. It happens much too rarely for the Titans to count on him as a building block for the future, which means its just another hole on a team with way too many of them as it is.