FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- That Rex Ryan, he's crazy like a fox.
Instead of his usual bravado, Ryan took a gallows-humor approach this week as the New York Jets (1-0) prepared to face the heavily favored Green Bay Packers (0-1). He said he'd rather play Delbarton (New Jersey) High School and how the best game plan for Aaron Rodgers is to "hope he gets sick." It was Ryan's way of feeding/mocking the public perception that the Jets have no chance Sunday at Lambeau Field.
Behind closed doors, it was a different Ryan, of course. It was vintage Ryan, hammering home the belief the Jets are a tougher team than the Packers and will out-physical them in the trenches. He's right -- they are and they will -- but will that be enough to overcome the brilliance of Rodgers? Probably not, but this is a house-money game for the Jets: No pressure. Maybe they can use that to their advantage.
Kickoff is 4:25 p.m. ET. The top storylines:
1. On the road again (uh-oh): Coaches don't like to look back -- we get it -- but it's unavoidable in this case. The Jets were brutal on the road last season, and this is their first chance to start a new trend. They were 2-6, with the worst point differential (minus-102) and the worst turnover margin (minus-12) in the league. In most games, they started poorly, got rattled and stayed down. A lot of it can be pinned on Geno Smith, who was exceptional in the two wins (Atlanta and Miami) but awful in the other games. All told, he had five touchdown passes and 13 interceptions. The Jets never will be considered a legitimate contender until they start winning on the road.
2. Expect the full Rodgers: The Packers didn't look like the Packers in their Week 1 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Their offense was bland and tentative. Concerned with the legendary Seattle crowd noise and its impact on their no-huddle, the Packers stayed in a basic three-receiver set for much of the game, using no motion at all. They didn't throw at All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman, basically eliminating one-third of the field. Now, in the friendly confines of Lambeau, the Packers are expected to use the full playbook and the full field. Their goal this season is to run 75 plays a game, so look for Rodgers to keep his foot on the gas pedal. Pre-snap communication will be important for the Jets, whose depth also will be tested by the up-tempo attack.
3. Help for secondary: Cornerback Dee Milliner is expected to play after missing four weeks with a high-ankle sprain, but his presence doesn't fix the secondary problems. Basically, Milliner is re-starting training camp. He'll need a few weeks to get into football shape and he's the type of player who needs reps to be at the top of his game. Darrin Walls and Antonio Allen will remain the starters, with Milliner rotating with Walls. The Rodgers-Jordy Nelson tandem poses a huge challenge. They've developed great chemistry over the years, especially on sideline routes -- the back-shoulder fade, in particular. Nelson, targeted 14 times last week, could run circles around Allen, who's still learning the position. Let's be real: They all could have problems covering Nelson.
4. Ground & Pound (and keep pounding): You'd like to believe the Jets won't overthink their offensive game plan. They ran for 212 yards last week and the Packers allowed 207, so the approach seems rather obvious: Just run, baby. The Packers' run defense was a hot mess in the opener. Their tackling was poor (17 misses) and their run fits were sloppy. The Seahawks spread them and ran wild against the Packers' nickel personnel. Jets right tackle Breno Giacomini acknowledged that "we might take a few things here and there" from the Seattle game plan. They should be able to gash the Packers with the inside-outside talents of Chris Ivory and Chris Johnson, respectively. The idea is to play ball control and keep Rodgers on the sideline.
5. Memo to offense: Finish drives: Last week's performance in the red zone (one touchdown, four trips) was flat-out unacceptable. The Jets ran 11 plays inside the 21-yard line, producing a net of minus-39 yards. Chalk it up to sacks, penalties, missed blocks and questionable play calling (see: Michael Vick package). The focus has to be sharper, and it starts with Smith, who needs to do a better job of managing the game. As coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said, "We have to become situational experts."