Jets Look to Tame MJD, Jaguars, in Must-Win Game

November 13, 2009

The New York Jets fresh off the bye week face the 4-4 Jaguars at the Meadowlands Sunday.  After starting the season 3-0, the Jets have lost 4 out of their last 5 and find themselves hanging on to slim playoff hopes.   The Jaguars have quietly put together a decent first of the half season despite fairly low expectations heading into this year. 

Jacksonville’s most impressive victory was over Houston on the road, but beyond that they have beaten Tennessee (and also lost to them,) Kansas City, and St. Louis. The Jaguars are a very young team, especially on defense where they have struggled this season. Their defense is currently ranked 26th in the NFL against the pass, and 23rd against the run.

Nevertheless, their offense has been very effective and is led by David Garrard at quarterback who has put together a better year than he did in a disappointing 2008 campaign.  The Jaguars most explosive playmaker, however,  is of course Maurice Jones-Drew (carrying my fantasy team on his back) and stopping him will be priority number 1 for Rex’s Jets.  MJD is officially listed as Questionable with a calf injury, but is expected to go Sunday.  Jacksonville also has a deep threat in Mike Sims-Walker but look for  “Baby Lockdown” Darrelle Revis to put the clamps on that guy.   Old Man River Torry Holt is still around, but if the Jets stop the Jags running attack, there is no reason they shouldn’t win this game.  NONE.  If you can’t beat the Jaguars at home, you have no business even talking about the playoffs.

This will be an interesting game for the Jets, because it will be the first time they have their full set of receivers healthy.  Brad Smith is expected back, and will join studs Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery.  Add in speedster David Clowney and Tight End Dustin Keller coming off a great game against the fish, and it will be exciting to watch Sanchez play with his full complement of weapons.

Sanchez, who turned 23 Wednesday, was solid in the first three games, accumulating 606 passing yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions. He wasn’t nearly as effective in the next five, completing 49.6 percent of his passes for 837 yards with four TDs and eight picks, five coming in an overtime loss to Buffalo on Oct. 18. He ran for a score in each of the last two games and went 20 for 35 for 265 yards and two touchdowns against the Dolphins in Week 8.

In an effort to continue his development, Sanchez spent the bye week watching video and when he’d see an errant throw, a missed read or poor footwork, he wanted to run out onto the field and redo the play.

“Man, I know that read,” Sanchez said of watching the game film. “I know how to take a seven-step drop, reset, look at my first progression, look at the second progression, and ad just.”

This shouldn’t change the Jets game-plan, however.  Run, run, run and run some more.  The Jaguars have been cut up on the ground quite a few times this season, and I see no reason why TJ and Shonn Greene shouldnt combine for at least 40 touches on the ground.

If the Jets establish the running game, hit a few big plays through the air, and stop the run, this game should be an easy win.  Nonetheless, a lot easier said than done.

News and Notes:  Cornerback Lito Sheppard, who has missed five of the last six games with a nagging quadriceps problem, said he will play Sunday.  LB Vernon Gholston missed practice Thursday after tweaking his left hamstring in a drill during Monday’s walk-through. Rex Ryan and Gholston were uncertain whether he will be able to play Sunday (sigh.)


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