Strug­gling Jets hop­ing to slow down Steel­ers

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - SPORTS - By Will Graves

“Re­vis Is­land” isn’t quite as lonely as it once was. Some­thing its long­time owner knows all too well. Now Jets cor­ner­back Dar­relle Re­vis is gird­ing for another pop­u­la­tion in­flux today against the Steel­ers.

“Re­vis Is­land” isn’t quite as lonely as it once was. Some­thing its long­time owner knows all too well.

Now New York Jets cor­ner­back Dar­relle Re­vis is gird­ing for another pop­u­la­tion in­flux today against the Pitts­burgh Steel­ers.

Asked what scares him about fac­ing the team he watched while grow­ing up in west­ern Pennsylvania, the four-time All-Pro can’t help but laugh. The an­swer is hard to miss. Just check out the high­light shows.

“Deep balls man,” Re­vis said.

Lots and lots and lots of deep balls. And it’s no longer just wide re­ceiver An­to­nio Brown and his quick­sil­ver moves and bound­ary push­ing end zone dances do­ing the dam­age.

Six of Ben Roeth­lis­berger’s touch­down passes are from 20 yards or more, the tar­gets a list that in­cludes speed­sters Dar­rius Hey­ward-Bey and Markus Wheaton and first-year tight end Xavier Grim­ble.

Some­how, it does not in­clude rapidly de­vel­op­ing Sam­mie Coates, who has at least one re­cep­tion of 40 yards in each of Pitts­burgh’s first four games.

“They have a lot of tal­ent, a lot of matchup prob­lems,” Re­vis said. Not ex­actly good news for the league’s 26th ranked pass de­fense or its leader, who is deal­ing with ham­string is­sues and was dom­i­nated by Cincin­nati’s A.J. Green in a Week 1 loss to the Ben­gals.

New York re­gain­ing its de­fen­sive swag­ger may be dif­fi­cult against Pitts­burgh as Steel­ers of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Todd Ha­ley ex­per­i­ments with his lineup now that star run­ning back Le’Veon Bell is back from a three-game sus­pen­sion.

All Bell did in his 2016 de­but last week against Kansas City was put up 178 yards of to­tal of­fense while lin­ing up all over the field in a 43-14 clinic .

Such are the op­tions at his dis­posal that Roeth­lis­berger is a lit­tle wor­ried about Ha­ley get­ting a bit too ex­per­i­men­tal, the NFL equiv­a­lent of first-world prob­lems.

“We can be as cre­ative as we want to be,” Roeth­lis­berger said. “We just have to be care­ful not to get so out of the box, out of this world that it can get con­fus­ing to our­selves.

“You want to con­fuse the de­fense, but you also want to be able to play fast. And some­times, just be­ing black or white is bet­ter than be­ing gray.”

Other things to look for as the Jets (1-3) try to slow down Roeth­lis­berger and com­pany in hopes of win­ning in Pitts­burgh for just the sec­ond time in fran­chise his­tory.

FLUM­MOXED FITZ

Jets quar­ter­back Ryan Fitz­patrick has strug­gled might­ily in the past two games af­ter a ter­rific per­for­mance at Buf­falo, throw­ing nine in­ter­cep­tions com­bined in losses to Seat­tle and Kansas City.

The pre­vi­ous time a Jets quar­ter­back threw nine in a two-game span was Joe Na­math in 1970. Of Fitz­patrick’s 10 in­ter­cep­tions on the sea­son, eight of them have come in the fourth quar­ter. That has lots of fans and me­dia won­der­ing if the Jets should con­sider a quar­ter­back change soon. “For me, that’s been my whole ca­reer,” Fitz­patrick said of hav­ing doubters. “It’s not any­thing new for me. I just have to con­tinue to pre­pare and try to be the best guy I can be ev­ery Sun­day, whether that’s com­ing off a good game or a bad game. That’s just some­thing I’ll con­tinue to try and do.”

LINE­MAN SHUF­FLE

While Pitts­burgh’s skill po­si­tion play­ers are nearly back at full strength, the of­fen­sive line is hurt­ing. Right tackle Mar­cus Gil­bert is out with an an­kle in­jury and guard Ra­mon Foster is a game-time de­ci­sion as he re­cov­ers from a bruised ster­num.

Chris Hub­bard, a former prac­tice squad player, may make his first NFL start in place of Gil­bert but the Steel­ers have also ex­per­i­mented with other op­tions in case of emer­gency, in­clud­ing hav­ing cen­ter Mau­r­kice Pouncey moon­light at right tackle in prac­tice just in case.

“We will have faith and trust,” Roeth­lis­berger said. “At the same time we will not be ridicu­lous. If there are times we need to send help some­one’s way, we will do it.”

MAR­SHALL’S PLAN

Jets wide re­ceiver Bran­don Mar­shall re­mains op­ti­mistic that the Jets will turn things around — and maybe as soon as this week­end.

Mar­shall was im­pressed by the team’s mood dur­ing the week and isn’t nearly ready to bail on the sea­son.

“We will have bet­ter re­sults,” Mar­shall said. “That’s a fact.”

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