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Post Game Thoughts: Jets vs Jaguars

With QB Geno Smith injured, Mark Sanchez received the opportunity to showcase his skills against the Jaguars for an extended period of time. The results were typical of Sanchezí career patterns. He had his moments before making his usual boneheaded plays that are typical of a rookie, not a 5th year pro.

For the most part I think Sanchez looks adequate in a very controlled environment. Early in the game he started out well enough hitting various receivers including a big TD pass to TE Jeff Cumberland. For the most part the game plan seemed to focus on quick decisions and strikes. Sometimes, though, when the field shortens, you canít play that way, especially when you donít have the talent that can run those little end zone fades.

All the good that Sanchez originally built up went away when he got intercepted in the end zone. While he did get killed for the pick, I thought this was a better interception, if there is such a thing, than last weekís. Mark did make a mistake and lock into Winslow and the Jaguars had read it perfect before the snap, but it was still a nice grab to pick it off. I also think itís reasonable to expect a veteran tight end to use his body better and box those type of plays out, which Winslow did not do.

What was worse was the fact that the interception I thought impacted his play. Veterans have to shrug that off and he did not. His play at the goal on the last series of the first half belonged in the schoolyard. . He nearly let the playclock run out before the snap and also had Clyde Gates wide open in the end zone but Sanchez didnít trust himself and tried to run. After a strange sequence that saw the Jets get two opportunities at the end zone Sanchez inexplicably let the clock run out and then threw the ball away costing his team a field goal. That is basic football 101. At the end of the day he cost his team 6 points.

Mark played better against the second string of Jacksonville, mainly hooking up with Braylon Edwards for a few nice passes. He also had a nice pass to Konrad Reuland, though if that was a first string defender out there the pass likely would have been broken up. I donít think Edwards is a lock to make the team, but if Mark is the starter he needs to be here. The negatives to keeping Edwards are that he is often injured and that his salary is guaranteed once Week 1 rolls around. But this is the guy that Sanchez trusts the most, much moreso than Santonio Holmes and also Jeremy Kerley. If Edwards was in Gatesí spot in the end zone I can guarantee Sanchez would have pulled the trigger rather than pulling the ball down.

Losing Edwards back in 2011 doesnít get much play, but it was a big factor in the downfall of the offense. For whatever reason, Edwards, who was not exactly known as a team player in Cleveland, seemed to take a very different approach in NY. It just seemed as if this is where he wanted to be and he made it a priority to take a rookie under his wing and try to boost his confidence. I watched him consoling a dejected Sanchez after he lost a game to Miami and saw a completely different side of a player who had a bad reputation coming here.

Odds are that Sanchez will never finish the season out as the starter so the threat of injury to Braylon is not a big deal. If he goes down after Smith is in as starter itís no big deal. Smithís future will be tied to Stephen Hill and Kerley. But if Mark is the guy you have to give him and the team their best chance and that happens with Edwards on the field. He makes so little money that the guaranteed salary is pennies in the grand scheme of things.

The running game looked better this week with Bilal Powell breaking off a big run early. Stephen Peterman had a terrific block on that play to spring him loose. Powell did a nice job on other plays as well and played much better than last week and ran more confidently. Chris Ivory did little but he is still just getting into game shape.

A bit on the offensive backups: I thought Kahlil Bell had a few nice runs when he got his chance and could end up replacing Joe McKnight on the roster. I donít think people realize that McKnightís biggest supporter in the organization was Mike Westhoff who is no longer here. Rex has thought little of him offensively, moving him to defense at one point and never giving him a chance even when Shonn Greene sputtered. The backup offensive line was also better this week. Last week every one of them looked as if they did not belong. That was not the case this week. If I were the Jets I would consider not playing Ryan Spadola the next two games. I donít know if they can carry him on the roster or not, but I donít know if he can clear waivers. I want to stash him on the Practice Squad and sometimes you want to hide those guys if you can.

The defense was a disappointment. They played terrible at first and seemed totally caught off guard by the hurry up offense being run by the Jaguars. Blaine Gabbert was picking them apart and the Jets run defense looked bad as well. After a good first game rookie CB Dee Milliner was getting exposed by Justin Blackmon. I donít think thatís too out of the ordinary as corners do usually take time to develop, but he was getting picked on. At one point it looked like Antonio Cromartie was ripping into him for not playing that well.

LB David Harris also had a bad game. He was never worth the big contract but right now I donít know how much of a contract he is really worth. He is not the same guy he was in 2009 and even 2010. He missed a tackle and got caught in coverage. The Jets are going to need Demario Davis to be something special if they are to get more out of Harris.

The pass rush was disappointing. I guess partially that was from the offense being run by the Jaguars making it difficult to bring anything beyond a pure skill rush, but I assumed the Jets would have been able to generate more pressure naturally with some of the skill on the team. Maybe it was a case of just not caring about playing the Jaguars who donít have much of a reputation for being a passable team. If the defense plays like this in the regular season it will be a very long year, though I think this was more of a preseason stumble than anything else.

DE Muhammad Wilkerson looked great again. I think heíll be an All Pro player this year unless the team is so bad that voters just overlook him. He had a great run stop and batted down pass. He is just so good and thatís going to turn out to be a great draft pick. They should extend him after this season.

On the Defensive Backups: Danny Lansanah had a nice interception which he then fumbled. I donít know what that makes the play. CB Ellis Lankster was around the ball a few times and probably should have had a pick. DE Leger Douzable also had a nice batted pass. The Jaguars backups were terrible which actually made it tougher to get a handle on what the Jets did well vs what the Jaguars did bad. Im sure if you re-watch the game you can pick things out but off an initial viewing it was hard to tell.

Next week is the dress rehearsal game where Rex is going to have to lean on a QB. If he goes with Sanchez itís clear Mark is the starter. The organization shouldnít try to dance around that if itís the case. They are going to need Smith to accept a role as backup for the time being and have him ready to showcase himself against the Eagles in week 4. I donít think he will take the decision well and getting that out of his system quick is important to the future. Right now he looks disconnected on the sidelines Not only do they need to keep him improving but they need him to gain the confidence of his teammates. Moping around wonít do that. Having a good game against Philadelphia will.

The Giants game will be a test for the defense as the Giants offense, though very streaky, is far better than that of the Lions and Jaguars. I think that game will give us all a better idea of just where the defense is. I believe the defense has a chance to be very good, though I do have concerns about the middle of the defense and still see the team better with four down linemen. If they can shut down the Giants attack I think it will build more confidence in the team for the season. Go Jets!

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