By Peter Schwartz
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“We just have to keep working at it. Whatever it takes, I know one thing, we’re going to get this done or die trying.”
— Jets head coach Rex Ryan, Nov. 12, 2012
Give Rex Ryan credit. He’s doing things his way, and he’s not going to succumb to public pressure and make a change he doesn’t want to make.
Mark Sanchez will start at quarterback for the 3-6 Jets on Sunday against the Rams in St. Louis. Under normal circumstances, Sanchez would have been benched a long time ago.
But these are not normal circumstances.
I’m on record saying I thought the Tim Tebow trade would be good for the Jets. I couldn’t have been more wrong — more than anything I’ve ever said in 23 years of covering sports in New York. The Jets’ acquisition is — for the moment — ruining the careers of two quarterbacks, both who know what it’s like to win a playoff game in the NFL.
While saying all of the right things since the trade happened, Sanchez has not handled this well, but he’s doing his best to put up a brave front.
“It’s something that is on my plate and it’s my job to deal with it,” said Sanchez. “I know I can handle it. It comes down to me just playing better and not really worrying about anything else.”
The Jets have not done Tebow any favors either. He was led to believe that he was going to be a big part of the offense — and that simply hasn’t been the case. He’s made more of an impact on special teams and his ability to make plays on offense has been limited.
He can’t be happy with this situation either, despite his constant scripted answers of saying he’s happy to be here and is just waiting for an opportunity to play.
That opportunity is not coming unless Sanchez gets hurt.
It’s clear that Ryan and general manager Mike Tannenbaum had no interest in bringing in Tebow. They already had signed Drew Stanton to be their backup quarterback. So what kind of football operations department would suddenly do an about-face and trade for Tebow?
A football operations department that was instructed by the owner to get a guy that he thought could sell tickets.
I almost forgot. There’s a game on Sunday!
The Jets defense will have to find a way to shut down running back Steven Jackson and third-year quarterback Sam Bradford, who seems to be getting better under the guidance of former Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.
Offensively, the Jets will face a Rams defense that is ranked 15th in the NFL. It hasn’t been smooth sailing for the Jets offense and they figure to have another battle on their hands in St. Louis.
“They’re strong, they’re fast (and) they’re just a nasty group,” said Sanchez. “They hit hard, all over the field. Their front seven is crazy, their back end is good, so it’s going to be a tough challenge for us. (They have a) really fast-flow defense. They’re good, really good. “
It’s a defense that’s probably good enough to send the Jets to 3-7 and another step closer to being eliminated from the playoff race.
Playoffs? Did you say playoffs?
Playoff guarantees from Antonio Cromartie and Muhammad Wilkerson last week were laughable. Anybody who suggests that the Jets can still make the playoffs at 3-6 is downright foolish.
But the Jets are going to continue painting an optimistic picture. Just like when an opponent has the ball near the Jets goal line and Ryan likes to say “they’re not in until they’re in,” the Jets will follow the theory that “they’re not out until they’re out.”
Until the Jets are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, they’re going to believe that they will somehow get there.
“I think its things we see that we can hang our hat on,” said safety Yeremiah Bell. “Week after week, we continue to punish ourselves, self-inflicted wounds, time after time. That’s something that as players, we have to get corrected. We’re going out there, we’re being competitive, we’re playing hard, but in this league you can’t help teams win. We continue to do that week after week. As players, we have to find a way to cut that out and keep ourselves in the ballgame.”
As the season spirals out of control, you have to wonder how long it will take for the locker room to fall apart like it did last year. With Santonio Holmes out for the season, his shenanigans aren’t something to worry about, but there’s always the danger of major problems when a team is losing.
The Jets, for whatever it’s worth, feel that this year is different.
“Last season, the way it finished out, was really frustrating,” said defensive tackle Mike DeVito. “I think it was definitely a learning experience as far as we can’t let stuff get in between us. I think the coaches and the team, we did a good job coming together during the offseason and bonding. That is one thing that is a big difference from years past is how close this team is”
This team is so close that anonymous players ripped Tim Tebow for a story in the Daily News, and then Shonn Greene proceeds to throw Mark Sanchez under the bus — intention aside — in a chat with Yahoo! Sports.
Just another week closer until plans begin for 2013.
JETS-RAMS ALL-TIME SERIES
The Jets are 3-9 all-time against the Los Angeles-St. Louis Rams. The last meeting was a 47-3 Jets victory in 2008 at Giants Stadium. Before that win, the Jets had lost seven in a row against the Rams dating back to 1986. Gang Green is 2-4 against the Rams at home and 1-5 on the road.
BEHIND ENEMY LINES
The Jets will see a few familiar faces this week in St. Louis as they meet up with former offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, former offensive lineman Wayne Hunter and 2012 draft pick RB Terrance Ganaway.
So far, Schottenheimer has been a hit with the Rams.
“My impressions, he’s doing an outstanding job,” said Rams head coach Jeff Fisher. “I was very excited initially that he was available. We hit the ground running and he’s been a big influence of the early turnaround of this football team.”
One player, in particular, that Schotty has influenced is quarterback Sam Bradford. The third-year signal caller has thrown 10 touchdown passes to go along with seven picks and is on pace to set a new career high for passing yards.
“I’ve really enjoyed working with Schotty,” said Bradford. “It’s been great getting to know him (and) learning his system. I think he’s really helped me in the fact this year that he’s very detailed in everything that he does.”
Bradford’s fourth-quarter QB rating of 97.4 is fifth-best in the NFL.
Another player on the Rams who knows Schotty well is Hunter, who was traded to St. Louis just before the start of the season. He caught on very quickly to an offense that he was familiar with.
“Wayne came in and was very excited to be here,” said Fisher. “Obviously, it didn’t take him very long to re-familiarize himself with the offense. He came in and helped us when we needed help.”
In light of the Jets’ struggles this season, you can bet that Schottenheimer and Hunter haven’t stopped laughing.
Who holds the Jets record for most touchdown passes in a game against the Rams?
Kickoff on Sunday is at 1 p.m. EDT. The game will be televised by CBS-2 HD with Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts on the call.
The Jets have 16 sacks this season with 11 of them coming in the last four games including two from Quinton Coples.
Muhammad Wilkerson has 33 tackles, a sack, two forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery over the last four games.
REMEMBER THAT KID IN THE JETS JACKET?
Those of you who remember watching the TV show “The Wonder Years” will remember that little Kevin Arnold, the character played by Fred Savage, always wore a Jets jacket.
There is a popular theory as to why he was always wearing the jacket, but there is a real story behind it.
“Many people think it was because the series was set in the early 1970’s when Broadway Joe was a national star,” said actor Dan Lauria, who played the father Jack Arnold in the show and is currently playing the part of narrator Jean Shepard in “A Christmas Story The Musical” on Broadway.
“But the real reason was because the creator of the series, Neil Marlens, was a crazy Jets fan from South Huntington. If you notice all the streets in the show were the names of Long Island towns.”
Lauria, who was outstanding in his role as “Lombardi” on Broadway, feels that if you love football, you’ll love “A Christmas Story.”
“It’s all about the relationship between Ralphie and his dad, and that father-son relationship,” said Lauria. “Plus the fact that guys loved and still love the movie when it is on every Christmas, will really resonate. It’s going to be a yearly event in New York if we do it right.”
“A Christmas Story” opens Monday at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater.
My record this season: 7-2
The Jets have lost five of their last six and the fracturing of the locker room is well underway with all of those anonymous quotes in the Daily News this past week. I think the Jets will win two or three more games this season, but not this week.
Rams 16, Jets 9
Al Woodall with three on Nov. 15, 1970.
That’s all for now! Check back Monday for more!
What’s your prediction? Will the Jets come away with one in St. Louis? Let us know in the comments below!