QB Mark Sanchez is struggling but won’t be benched. Free safety Kerry Rhodes , compared to Ed Reed before the season by Rex Ryan, WILL be benched. Ryan will now sit in on offensive meetings as a way to help Sanchez with his development. Oh, and David Clowney’s twitter account was hacked into this week as some creep threw violent taunts towards a fan who sent the Jet wideout not so kind thoughts on the Patriot loss. Welcome to “As The Jets Turn,” the latest episode in the Gang Green’s 2009 season as the club readies for Carolina .
It seems like light years ago that this soap opera was full of hope and promise. Now at 4-6, losers of six of the last seven, the Jets look to simply regroup against another 4-6 team, the Carolina Panthers. A club like the Jets whose run game is dangerous yet whose QB Jake Delhomme, has also come under fire for underperforming this season.
For the Jets, the formula is simple on paper. Sanchez must limit his mistakes ( he’s 3rd in the NFL in interceptions with 16) while Thomas Jones and the Jet run game move the chains. The Jet defense must regain its early season form and create pressure on opposing team’s backfields.
The D must also find a way to start creating turnovers, something they’ve been unable to do all season. FS Kerry Rhodes who many thought would become the next Ed Reed, the ball hawking future hall of fame Raven, (a former leader on Rex Ryan’s Baltimore defense), has not made one big play all season. His tentative play has led to big plays given up by the Jet secondary. Eric Smith will replace Rhodes this week who was benched by Ryan in order to send a message to his team. How the Jets react to the benching will go a long way in determining Ryan’s presence as a leader of this team in the future.
Ryan has also decided to now sit in and observe the offense at team meetings. Admittedly Ryan likened the experience to “French class,” but something had to be done and sitting the future of the team Sanchez, was not on the head coach’s radar. Many Jet faithful are starting to wonder though, if its it too early to throw the season away and allow Sanchez the growing pains. What if backup QB Kellen Clemens can settle down an offense that has turned it over too often during this two month swoon? A swoon that has dropped the Jets from first place to a game out of last in the AFC East. Jet analyst and former Jet QB Ray Lucas voiced his belief on SNY that the move to Clemens might be the right one in order to save 2009.
If the Jets want to have any chance on Sunday they have to do one thing. Stop the league’s number four rusher (982 yards) Deangelo Williams. He’s a faster version of the league’s number five rusher Maurice Jones-Drew, who torched the Jets for 123 yards weeks two weeks ago. The Panthers defense ranks 11th overall, fourth against the pass at 185 yards per game. That doesn’t bode well for the Jet air attack which has struggled to move the ball since the arrival of the player thought to be perhaps the missing playoff piece in WR Braylon Edwards in week five. Sanchez averages 179 passing yards a game. To score, the Jet ground game has to be effective. More carries for Shonn Greene, the rookie backup with big play potential exemplified in Oakland a month back
may be on the menu.
With Buffalo up next in Toronto on Thursday, the Jets play two games in five days. A win streak would leave the Jets at 6-6 and talking playoffs again. Anything less than a two game sweep though, and the talk around Florham Park the rest of the way will be about the development of Sanchez and 2010.
THREE KEYS TO THE PANTHERS GAME:
Stop Deangelo Williams: Forget Jake Delhomme. He’s good for a few mistakes, missed opportunities and a bunch of yardage that add up to field goal chances. It’s Deangelo Williams who must be stopped. Williams can single handedly ruin the Jets as quality RBs often do. It’s in the Gang Green’s DNA to face a tough back and get dominated. If it happens Sunday, it’s light out for 2009. For real.
Sanchez, throw to the Green Jerseys! Interception happy Mark Sanchez HAS to cut down on the INT’s. Otherwise one of two things will happen. Or both. The Jets will certainly lose. Two, the rookie will be benched for Clemens during the game as Rex Ryan tries to save a season evaporating faster than electronic appliances on Black Friday department store shelves.
Shonn Greene, Dustin Keller, Braylon Edwards, you guys alive? : The Jets need a spark on offense. Here are three players that can provide that. Greene needs more touches, Keller and Sanchez need to get on the same page now and Edwards has to stop dousing his hands with vaseline before he enters the huddle. Catch the ball Braylon let’s go. Enough already.
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