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Behind Enemy Lines 2015: Jets Edition


The Redskins on Sunday take on the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. Senior Reporter Randy Lange (@rlangejets on Twitter) gives us an insider's look at the major storylines for the opposing team heading into the matchup.* The Jets have a new head coach this season in Todd Bowles, and appear to be responding well so far with their 3-1 record and another strong defense. What has Bowles brought to the franchise that's helped it turn a corner to this point of the season?


Lange: "**In many ways Todd Bowles is the anti-Rex Ryan. That's not to diminish Ryan's style in any way. Rex was a brash guy and a players' coach who guided the Jets to consecutive AFC Championship Game appearances in 2009-10. But where Ryan takes two paragraphs to answer a question, Bowles takes maybe two sentences, sometimes two words. Bowles has a sense of humor but he also comes across as a no-nonsense, steely-eyed kind of coach when it's time to play football, something the players have noticed. Not a surprising approach for a coach who, like many, come from the coaching tree of Hall of Famer Bill Parcells, who brought him in as the Jets' DBs coach for the 2000 season, then hired him for his Cowboys staffs in 2005-06. Bowles Bowles' defensive game-planning has also been eye-opening. He's doing creative blitzing on more than 50 percent of pass plays in the early part of the season, something Ryan was and is noted for. And Bowles' Jets defense has been the No. 1-ranked scoring defense in the league for the past four weeks, a distinction the Jets last had in the final four weeks of the 2009 season, Ryan's first at the helm. So his style is different from the previous man in charge, but his impact on the franchise in his first year as an NFL head coach has been similar and just as favorable." like the old-school approach of running the football and smashmouth defense is working well for the Jets this season. Is that what they envisioned going into this season?


Lange:** "You could say that. At his introductory news conference in January, Bowles said: "My philosophy is obviously you have to throw the football in this league, but you have to run the football to win ballgames. We want to have a good balance, and we want to have complementary football with our defense. We want to play off each other. We want to be tough, we don't want to be pushed around, we want to be explosive." Bowles and OC Chan Gailey liked what they had in RB Chris Ivory and have appreciated his relentless, punishing running style the more they've coached him, to the point that Ivory is now getting more kudos from around the league as an upper-echelon back. Bowles and DC Kacy Rodgers knew they had an outstanding front seven led by LB David Harris and DE Muhammad Wilkerson, added to it in the draft by taking DE Leonard Williams sixth overall, and once GM Mike Maccagnan finished a masterful rebuilding of the secondary, they were good to begin implementing Bowles' defensive plan." saw you wrote about the return of defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson from suspension. What does his presence mean for a defense that was already rolling without him? Seems like they have the potential to be scary good.


Check out these photos of the Redskins' offense preparing for their Week 6 match up against the New York Jets Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015, at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va.

Lange: "**Richardson had been growing in leaps and bounds until his offseason off-field troubles led to his NFL suspension for four games. In 2013 he was the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. Last season he started in the Pro Bowl and was named the team MVP. He was excellent at the point of attack against the run as a rookie (nine tackles for loss, tied for team lead), then addressed the less prominent aspect of his game by compiling a team-high eight sacks last year. He has a non-stop motor and a competitive drive that fires up his defensive teammates. All that being said, Bowles said early this week that while Richardson will play against the Redskins, the coaches won't decide on his starting status or potential play time until later this week. He has to get back into football shape, which presumably will take a week or two. But he loves the game, appears to have gained some humility from his personal situation, and should make the defense that was off to a flying start without him even better with him." are a couple Jets players who don't necessarily get a lot of attention that Redskins fans should know about heading into this matchup, and why?


Lange: "**The offseason headlines were focused on the returns of Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie at corner and the signing of S Marcus Gilchrist. But the one secondary acquisition that might have escaped notice was the signing of Buster Skrine, a starter in 2013-14 with the Browns. Skrine's been billed as "pound for pound the strongest player on our team" by Rodgers and he's flashing his skills all over the field, in coverage and particularly in the early going on the blitz. Against the Dolphins in London, for instance, he had five QB hurries of Ryan Tannehill. Offensively, it's hard to single out an "under the radar" player, since WRs Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker and RB Chris Ivory are well-known and well-traveled QB Ryan Fitzpatrick is functioning very efficiently. Let's go with rookie WR Devin Smith. The second-round rookie missed much of training camp and the first two weeks of the season rehabbing from broken ribs. In the last two games, Fitzpatrick has tried to get the Ohio State speedster the ball (15 targets, 5 receptions for a modest 53 yards) but the connections weren't smooth because of Smith's rookie status and the fact that the two just hadn't worked much together. But we suspect they will continue to seek that big downfield connection to supplement the Ivory-based ground game and the red zone production of Marshall and Decker."


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