The TOJ staff discusses what match-ups they are most looking forward to this Sunday when the New York Jets take on the Jacksonville Jaguars. Make sure to give everybody a follow on Twitter -
Thursday Night Picks
Joe – Den (-10)
Rob – Oak (+10)
Chris G – Den (-10)
Chris C – Den (-10)
Joe Caporoso - Mark Sanchez vs. himself is without question the centerpiece of this game. He likely be navigating a run-heavy, conservative game-plan but when given opportunities he must play aggressive and smart. Better to go down swinging than tentatively floating the ball into triple coverage off your backfoot right? The chances for big plays will be there, does Sanchez have any fight left in him to be a quarterback in this city?
Chris Celletti - The only thing everyone has to be keeping their eyes on is Mark Sanchez, right? I mean, we can sit here for hours and talk about how the Jets need to establish the ground game with Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell and if they do they’ll win, but all we really care about is how Sanchez does. even if he only drops back 12 times, oh boy he better be good with those 12 throws. The Jacksonville defense is poor, but that doesn’t mean much for Sanchez. While if I were the Jets, I’d let Sanchez wing it around and see how he’s responded to the benching, I expect them to treat him like the rookie he’s played like most of this season. Watch for a run-heavy plan trying to set up the play action and for the Jets to roll Sanchez out and have him read only half the field. You know, sort of like what they did with Greg McElroy last week. Either way, Sanchez is pretty much in a no-win spot on Sunday, and that probably goes for the rest of this season. If he plays well on Sunday, people will write it off since it was against a bad team. Obviously if he plays poorly, he risks losing his job for good. But it’s clearly a must-watch if you’re a die-hard Jet fan, given that there’s a chance Rex Ryan pulls him again if he doesn’t play well now that there’s a precedent.
TJ Rosenthal - Nothing has more intrigue in a matchup between a 5-7 and 2-10 squad, than the battle that will take place between Mark Sanchez and himself. The Jags defense is ranked 31st. There will be makable plays out there. Sanchez either believes in himself and understands that Rex has chosen to jump in the lifeboat with him and Tannenbaum, or wont be able to help any of them. Too beat up mentally from the years of poor guidance, odd personnel choices, and the pressure to save his and other jobs
that are relying on him to snap out of it.
Rob Celletti - All eyes will be on Mark Sanchez on Sunday. Other than that, this is a game between two generally poor football teams. If Sanchez protects the ball, the Jets will probably win the game going away. The key here is simply how Sanchez responds to his first career benching. This is essentially the final straw, the last stand for Mark Sanchez as a Jet. Will he thrive under pressure, as he did in 2009 and 2010? Or will he fall flat, likely ending his reign as this team’s quarterback?
Chris Gross - Mark Sanchez vs. Himself – Can the Jets embattled signal caller finally wake up and show some sign of life against the 31st ranked defense in the NFL this week? Many are questioning Rex Ryan’s decision to stick with the former 5th overall pick out of Southern California, but contrary to popular belief, this was the only choice Rex could make. Dollar figures and guaranteed money aside, Sanchez has been the face of the Rex Ryan era in New York. He was highly scouted by the Jets entire front office, including Ryan, Mike Tannenbaum, and even owner Woody Johnson (I use the term scouted loosely), and it was an organizational decision to make him the centerpiece of the new Ryan/Tannenbaum regime. Despite his struggles, giving up on him now would be an admission that the whole organization missed on such a prominent piece of their building plans. Sanchez has never been benched in his professional career, and whether or not you think Greg McElroy is the savior at quarterback for the Jets, it is only right to see how he responds to his very first minutes as a clipboard holder.
Sanchez needs to prove that he can do what no one believes he is capable of at this point, and that is to become mentally tough and block out all of his detractors, seemingly 99.9% of the team’s fanbase. Is he beyond repair for this market at this stage in his career? Possibly, but it is essential to see how he responds to the events that occured in last Sunday’s win over Arizona. Sanchez cannot afford to be careless with the ball yet again, and he certainly cannot afford to come out with that look of defeat on his face.
Jets fans can live with bad quarterback play. They fought through years of Neil O’Donnell, Ray Lucas, an injury plagued Chad Pennington, Jay Fiedler, Quincy Carter, Brooks Bollinger, Kellen Clemens…you see the point. Sanchez’s maddening incosistent play could be tolerated by a fanbase that has had to stomach so much subpar play at the position over the past 20 years. However, the look of gloom and disaster that Sanchez constantly shows after every single mishap will not be tolerated by this fanbase, nor should it be.
Sanchez will make mistakes for they have become rather habitual at this point in his career. Whether they come this week, or in the 3 weeks that follow, he is bound to make some kinds of mistakes if he is under center. How he responds is what will ultimately decide his fate. He has yet to prove that he has a short term memory, something that is an absolute neccessity at the position, particularly in a town like New York. When these mistakes come, Sanchez needs to display the look of a cool-headed MLB pitcher that gives up a solo homerun in the first inning. Shake it off, regroup, and worry about the next hitter, or play in this case. If he sulks at any point, especially against a team like Jacksonville, the coaching staff, organization, and fanbase will officially write him off. It is the ultimate put up or shut up time for Sanchez, who always preaches the need to get better and continue to work. As Bill Parcells used to say, “Don’t tell me about the labor, just show me the baby.” This is likely the final audition for number 6 in the green and white. How he rises to the calling will determine, not only the ultimate fate of the 2012 Jets, but the fate of his career in New York, as well.