New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan is firmly on the hot seat. On Sunday, he and his team will set out to get the franchise back to where it was just a few years ago.
The Jets' Week 1 contest is against another team with quite a bit of pressure on it as well, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Throughout the preseason, the Jets looked out of sync on offense, while the Buccaneers have one of the most improved defenses in the NFL.
Perhaps the most intriguing storyline for Sunday's game will be Darrelle Revis facing his former team. The former Jets cornerback was traded to the Buccaneers this offseason and will have a reunion right away.
As if the Jets needed another storyline.
Meet the Buccaneers
Josh Freeman enters 2013 with a lot to prove, despite throwing for 4,000 yards a year ago. He had been inconsistent throughout his career, flashing the ability to be the answer to Tampa's quarterback issue while at the same time making Bucs fans scratch their heads on plenty of occasions. Luckily, Tampa can lean on running back Doug Martin, who wasted no time becoming one of the NFL's best running backs as a rookie last season.
Defensively, Tampa Bay should be much improved in 2013. If Gerald McCoy stays healthy, he will anchor the middle of the defensive line. Lavonte David continues to impress at linebacker, as well. But the biggest change to the Buccaneers' defense in 2013 will be the addition of Revis. He's coming off a major knee injury, but it shouldn't take too long for him to get back up to speed and play like he's capable of playing.
Meet the Jets
Geno Smith fell to the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft, but he will be the opening day starter for the Jets after Mark Sanchez got injured in the preseason. Smith will take some time to get up to speed, and the Bucs' defense will provide a hell of a challenge for the first-year signal caller. He won't have much help around him, either. Santonio Holmes will be limited in Sunday's game, and the Jets don't have many proven weapons outside of him.
New York has a chance to be a decent defensive team. The front seven is loaded with young talent thanks to the team's last few drafts. The most recent addition is defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson. The secondary will be in transition after the Jets replaced Revis with rookie Dee Milliner.
Local Takes: Buccaneers
Sander Philipse from Bucs Nation says this about Freeman, who is no longer one of the team's captains:
It's been clear throughout the offseason that Freeman does not have the complete confidence of the team, either, although he was never in danger of losing his starting job. He just has to answer a few questions this offseason.
Local Takes: Jets
John from Gang Green Nation is worried about the run defense going up against Martin on Sunday:
The bigger concern might be the run defense, and this could be a theme of the season. The front seven of this team is lacking in proven run stoppers. In fact, Muhammad Wilkerson and David Harris are the only two who profile as strong against the run at this point of their respective careers, and that is generously assuming Harris can bounce back from two disappointing seasons.
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One thing to keep in mind: veterans on the roster for game one have their salary guaranteed. The Bucs may sign veteran help after Sunday.— Sander Philipse (@Bucs_Nation) September 6, 2013
The Bucs have finally and officially ruled LG Carl Nicks as OUT for Sunday's game against the Jets. TE Tom Crabtree out too— Roy Cummings (@RCummingsTBO) September 6, 2013
Also, that last piece suggests Football Outsiders is the most accurate, which predicted the #NYJ to come in second in the AFCE.— Gang Green Nation (@GangGreenNation) September 6, 2013
Jets have discussed possibility of cutting QB Brady Quinn today/tomorrow and then re-signing him Monday, I'm told. #nyj— Manish Mehta (@MMehtaNYDN) September 6, 2013
The game will likely turn on how well Smith is able to handle the pressure of his first career NFL regular season start. Based on his performance in preseason, the Jets could have rough time Sunday.
The pick: Buccaneers 27, Jets 14
The Buccaneers are favored by 3.5 points against the Jets, according to Odds Shark.