‘From the Pressbox’
By Ernie Palladino
» More Ernie Palladino Columns
Ernie is the author of “Lombardi and Landry.” He’ll be covering football throughout the season.
Rex Ryan doesn’t think the MetLife Stadium crowd will be booing Mark Sanchez Sunday.
At least, not before the game.
That will come as welcome relief, considering the treatment he’s gotten lately from the home crowd. But the boos may still come if that Jets offense stutters against Kansas City’s defense. If former Giants assistant Romeo Crennel gets the Chiefs’ pass rush cranked up to full blast, they could pressure Sanchez enough to fall into his former pattern of making the big mistake at the big time.
And that would be unfortunate for both Sanchez and the Jets.
“They’re going to have a great scheme with Coach Crennel,” Sanchez said. “We’re going to have to play well. We have to get open down the field, establish the running game, and I have to be accurate. It’s the same goals each week, but we have to keep improving.”
With the league’s 12th-best pass defense, but the 25th-worst run defense, the obvious move would be to run the ball down the Chiefs’ throats. Indeed, Shonn Greene’s ribs should be in good enough shape to take a pounding, and now that LaDainian Tomlinson is back, they have a legitimate two-pronged attack.
Throw in their Wildcat after its unveiling in Washington, and they might just have enough to keep the heat off Sanchez and allow him to throw some key but safe passes.
“It’s just a different look for the defense,” Greene said. “Obviously, Washington wasn’t aware. We hadn’t done it previously, so they weren’t aware. I think it kind of caught them off guard.
“It gives a different look and just puts us in a different situation to move the ball.”
That would be fine, for Kansas City’s pressures the passer just enough to create turnovers. Their 17 interceptions rank third in the league. As for the running game, linebacker Derrick Johnson hit rugged Bears running back Matt Forte hard enough in last week’s win to knock him out of the game, and probably this week’s, with a sprained MCL.
It will help that vaunted former Colts offensive coordinator Tom Moore, hired as a consultant to Brian Schottenheimer, hung around all week. The players like him. And he can give enough input to tweak Shotty’s sometimes shaky gameplans.
“Coach Moore has been a big influence,” Santonio Holmes said. “Things that coach Schottenheimer, Mark, myself, Plaxico (Burress), and Dustin (Keller) have learned is just little keys and things that have helped him excel as an offensive coordinator.
“We’re just taking every piece of advice that he gives us and moving forward from there.”
Advice well taken, for this Jets team wants to win out. It won’t be the end of the world if they lose this one. But it could make things significantly harder to land that final playoff spot, assuming either Baltimore or Pittsburgh will take the first one. Remember, too, that Denver and Oakland have tiebreakers on them, and final opponent Miami has suddenly figured out how to win games.
A win here will simply make it easier heading into Philadelphia next week, and the Giants in an emotional Christmas Eve game.
Kansas City is eminently beatable, saddled with a second string quarterback in Tyler Palko that can’t move its offense.
If they fall here, they won’t be bidding the 2011 season farewell. But they’ll have taken away any leeway the final three games might afford them.
Time for the home folks to get behind the Jets.
What’s your prediction for Jets-Chiefs? Sound off in the comments below…