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Three Things (Plus a Little More) to Know About the Jets

New York's defense has been really good when it matters most, but that unit won't have an important player when it faces the Tennessee Titans.

It is the kind of game that looks like it is easy to figure.

By almost any measure, starting with their win-loss record, the Tennessee Titans (2-1) are a better team than the New York Jets (0-3). Even as a road team, the Titans are favored by nearly a touchdown, according to SI Sportsbook.

Yet Titans coach Mike Vrabel has worked hard this week to make sure everyone involved does not expect it to be a cake walk when the teams meet at MetLife Stadium.

“It is a difficult task to go on the road and win,” Vrabel said. “Records don’t mean anything, and that is just the way we approach it. After you win or after you lose, you can’t let any sort of complacency set in. We have to resist those temptations to feel like, ‘OK, we have won two games in a row.’ I mean, that really isn’t going to mean anything going up to New York.”

Here are some things to know about the Jets.

The Jets will be without starting safety Marcus Maye, who sustained an ankle injury last Sunday. Through three games, Maye is their third-leading tackler with 23 stops. He also has two tackles for loss, one sack and one pass defensed.

The news is not all bad for New York on that front. Saturday, they activated two safeties off injured reserve, 2020 third-round pick Ashtyn Davis and veteran Sharrod Neasman. Their additions mean the Jets will have four safeties available – and options to start alongside Adrian Colbert, their fourth-leading tackler.

"By Sunday we'll figure out who's the best back there. Maybe it'll be safety by committee," defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich said, adding that a safety by committee isn't as bizarre as it sounds. "I think each guy kind of has their unique skillset, each guy is getting better every week as we play.

The Jets entered this week tied for first in the league in red zone defense. Opponents have scored touchdowns a mere 33 percent of the time they have gotten inside the 20. It should be noted that New York it tied with Denver and New Orleans, but has faced more red zone possessions (12) than those other two combined (nine).

It is the Jets’ best start in that regard since 2015.

“You talk about that fight, we’ve forced a couple of turnovers in the red zone,” coach Robert Saleh said. “This defense is made of the right stuff in terms of, ‘Give us an inch of grass and we’ll protect it.’ They take that to heart, and it’s been pretty cool to watch.”

Wide receiver Jamison Crowder will make his season debut. New York’s leading receiver each of the last two years missed the third three weeks of this season with a groin injury. Crowder had 78 receptions for 833 yards and six touchdowns in 2019 and 59 receptions for 699 yards and six touchdowns in 2020. He should be a welcome addition for an offense led by rookie quarterback Zach Wilson, who has thrown seven interceptions and just two touchdown passes.

The Jets currently rank 30th in the NFL in passing offense and in yards per attempt. They are last in completion percentage and passer rating.

"(Crowder) is going to get some opportunity," Saleh said. "Hopefully he takes advantage of it, and we're expecting him to. He's stacked up a third consecutive week of great, deliberate practice. He's really getting comfortable within the offense. We're excited to see him get his [chance]."

Quick hits: New York’s 2021 draft class included two Michael Carters. In the fourth round, the Jets took cornerback Michael Carter II, who is one of just three rookies with at least five tackles in each of this season’s first three games. In the fifth round, the chose Michael Carter, who is their leading rusher with 89 yards on 24 carries. … The Jets have scored just three first-half points, fewest in the NFL, and are one of two teams (Pittsburgh is the other) that has been shut out in the first quarter of each of its three games. … New York is one of 12 teams that has allowed an average of fewer than 4.0 yards per rush. Opponents have averaged 3.8, including 3.25 over the last two weeks.