By Steve Silverman
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With a Week 1 victory, the Jets are able to do what they do best.
They can start crowing.
You follow the lead of your head coach in the NFL and everyone knows that Rex Ryan is never going to play the humble routine.
When you break out to a 41-7 lead en route to a 48-28 victory after struggling throughout the majority of the preseason, it’s a victory that seems huge.
In the NFL, you can go from hero to bum in one week quite easily. Many have found that out in the past and it will certainly happen again.
Mark Sanchez could find himself in that category when the Jets take on the Steelers in Week Two, but he has every right to enjoy the fruits of his labors. He was not a quarterback-in-training against the Bills and he did not look like he didn’t belong. He was sharp in his throws and decisive in his movements as the Jets simply took the Bills apart.
Perhaps he can credit backup quarterback Tim Tebow for helping him get off to such a sharp start. Sanchez completed 19-of-27 passes for 266 yards with three touchdowns and just one interception.
Why does Tebow deserve credit?
He sent the message to Sanchez.
The moment the Jets acquired Tebow from the Broncos, a strong message was sent to Sanchez.
He needed to step up all aspects of his game if he wanted to remain the Jets’ starting quarterback. He needed to get in better shape. He needed to throw the ball with more accuracy and velocity. He needed to get tougher and he needed to become a leader.
Sanchez has been lacking in all of those categories. He would flash his talent but he has not been consistent for the Jets in any of those categories.
Sanchez heard the criticisms, but he really hadn’t done anything to bring his performance up to the kind of level that NFL coaches and fans expect.
But when they brought Tebow in, Sanchez was smart enough to realize that it would have huge ramifications for his quarterbacking future – at least in New York.
He seems to be much better at his job than he has been in the past. While one game does not serve as concrete proof of this observation, his performance will allow him to go into his second assignment with real confidence.
The second test will be a much tougher one. The Steelers will come into MetLife Stadium as a powerful and determined team. They played a solid game for about three quarters in their opener against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos before running out of gas in the Mile High altitude.
They are not likely to fall apart in the fourth quarter in New Jersey.
These are two, tough physical teams that live for challenges. Ben Roethlisberger excels at extending plays and making things happen when all appears lost because he has a resourceful and fast group of wide receivers.
That should play into the Jets’ hands. The Jets have the top cornerback duo in the league. There’s no way any other team can compete with Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie.
So even though the Steelers don’t want to start the season 0-2 and they will be motivated, the Jets have every chance to beat them in a hard, physical battle.
Not surprise them or sneak up on them. But beat the Steelers in a nasty, punishing game.
Sanchez is the X-factor in this game. If he is ordinary, the Jets may need a break to pull out the game in the fourth quarter. But if he picks it up from where he left off against the Bills, the Jets will have a chance to dictate the pace of the game and keep the Steelers on their heels for 60 minutes.
Sanchez has gotten the message for the Jets. He may not turn into Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers this year, but he’s going to be a lot better than he has been. Tebow has helped him learn that he has to seize the day and make the most of his chances.
Will Sanchez have a repeat performance against the Steelers in Week 2? Let us know…