By Ernie Palladino
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Start the chant: “Break up the Jets!”
Before we commence with all the happy talk that comes after things like Gang Green’s 27-13 win over the Rams Sunday, let’s get it clear up front that the Jets still have a few issues to iron out. They are still prone to defensive lapses. The running game leaves something to be desired. And special teams seems to come up with new and different ways to put the adventure back into punts and field goals.
But Sunday’s victory did prove one thing for the chorus demanding a total breakup of this team. It’s certainly not all Mark Sanchez’s fault. We all should have known that from the start, of course, but Sanchez proved it with an overall strong outing.
Sanchez’s numbers, rather pedestrian by upper crust standards but certainly solid enough for a struggling team like this, proved he could be effective if given the time and opportunity. Once Tony Sparano and Rex Ryan finished breaking messing him up with the continuance of the silly Tim Tebow Experience and the offensive line decided to do a little blocking in the second half, Sanchez operated well.
He didn’t throw an interception, and he spread the ball around to eight targets. In the process, he produced the Jets’ first touchdown in 10 quarters with a throw to Chaz Schilens. Their three total offensive touchdowns indicated there may yet be some life left in Rex Ryan’s team.
However, before we red-line this squad into the playoffs, we should remember that beating the NFL’s youngest squad to get to 4-6 is not the achievement of the decade. It’s a start, that’s all. The Rams came into the game at a similarly putrid level, missing only the anonymous backbiting of the past week that afflicted, and perhaps in an ironic way, spurred the Jets. As Thomas Jefferson said about the French Revolution, a little rebellion now and then is good for a country. So, too, might the Jets’ internal unrest have provided them with a temporary cause.
But the road ahead is hard. Thanksgiving awaits, along with Tom Brady and his band of receivers. Just when the Jets could have benefited from a full week of practice, they get hit with a super-abbreviated practice schedule for a team that can tear opponents to pieces.
One might be encouraged by what the defense did to Sam Bradford. Aside from that opening touchdown where scorer Brandon Gibson AND Danny Amendola were inexplicably left uncovered in the end zone, the coverage was strong enough to limit Bradford to 23-of-44, 170-yard passing with an interception. His other touchdown, also to Gibson, came far too late.
Remember, however, that Bradford is not Brady. Not by a long shot. They’ll have to up their game if they expect to come out of Thanksgiving a game under .500. But if they do succeed, perhaps then their fans can at least start dreaming about sneaking into the postseason. A roaring entrance would be even nicer, but let’s face it, the Jets aren’t going to be running any tables this year.
Perhaps the best news to come from this game, besides the end of a three-game losing streak was the ability of the Jets to convert their turnovers into points. Having to go only 28 yards for their first score off Muhammad Wilkerson’s strip sack certainly helped. And Sanchez was at least on-target with his throws in a 15-of-20, 178-yard afternoon.
This may have been a blip on the season’s radar screen, destined to fade and be forgotten in a couple of weeks. Or it could be the start of an epic comeback.
Most likely, it’s the former. Just be thankful that for one day, at least, the Jets gave themselves a foundation upon which to build a season.
Now we’ll see if they’ve got the brick and mortar to turn it into an edifice worth looking at.
Did Sunday’s win change your outlook on the Jets at all? Be heard in the comments below!