Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Jets-Saints Thoughts

*Clearly, the story of the game is Mark Sanchez. It was the golden boy's first bad game in green and white, and he deserves the lion's share of the blame for this loss. He had two turnovers returned for touchdowns and only led the offense to 10 points. Still, there is no reason to panic. Rookie quarterbacks have growing pains, and this is to be expected. Darren Sharper has made a lot of quarterbacks look stupid like that, and Sanchez will learn not to stare down his receivers in the redzone and to throw the ball better.

His warts are coming more to life every game, but the Jets are 3-1 under Sanchez, and he has made a number of nice plays for this team. The receivers other than Jerricho Cotchery haven't really stepped up to give him some help, but they have nothing to do with his carelessness with the football. Sanchez seems like the type who will learn from this, and it should just be a bump in the road. Every rookie has games like that.

But the 15 yard penalties have to stop. Diving at Jonathan Vilma's knees was pointless and could (and probably should) draw a fine, especially considering Vilma's well-documented knee issues.

*The first drive made it look like Drew Brees would carve up the Jets' defense with quick releases, foiling Rex Ryan's blitzes, and exposing players like Drew Coleman and Dwight Lowery. However, they stood tall in the redzone, like they did almost all game, and showed yet again just how good they are. The Saints managed one offensive touchdown, and Drew Brees had only 190 yards passing and no touchdowns. Every week this season, this defense has faced a tough task, and every week, they've passed the test with flying colors. Chad Henne and the Dolphins should be a welcome sight.

*Jerricho Cotchery has continued to step up to be the Jets' #1 weapon offensively. He had 5 catches for 71 yards. The yardage total was more than half the Jets' passing offense, and despite the total being solid, it was his lowest total of the season. He could be a major factor next Monday night.

*What to do with the running offense? It had underperformed in the first three games, and clearly Brian Schottenheimer took notice. He used the "Seminole" offense with Leon Washington a few times. Brad Smith took a few snaps, too. Are we supposed to call that the Mizzou Tiger? All in all, the Jets rushed for 132 yards, but nobody ran for more than 48 yards. Thomas Jones posted that total on 13 carries including the team's only touchdown. Leon Washington took a back seat surprisingly.

But the most intriguing thing about the running offense was that rookie Shonn Greene finally made his debut. He received 4 carries for 23 yards before tweaking his ankle. It's far too early to call him injury-prone, but he may need time to adjust to the violence of the NFL game. Just as interesting was the sense of purpose that Jones seemed to run with after Greene got into the game. Maybe that's the kick in the butt Jones needed.

*Despite the loss, there is absolutely no need to panic. The Jets are 3-1 in the first quarter of the season, a total any of you would have taken before the year started. The Saints are a very good football team, especially at home. Mark Sanchez has gained a ton of experience in the first four games, working from ahead, making a few plays, making some mistakes, and he completely looks the part. Remember, he started just one season in college, and New Orleans was the first time that was abundantly clear.

Calvin Pace will be back next week, and Lito Sheppard and Donald Strickland are close to returning. It will be a long week before Monday night at Miami, but a win there will make everyone forget this game. It's a long season.

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