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Just win baby

December 11, 2009

TJ and the Jets must win on Sunday to keep playoff dreams alive

 

The New York Jets have won two in a row, and have seen their playoff chances increase with Pittsburgh’s loss to Cleveland Thursday night.  Nevertheless, Gang Green will have to rely on a backup quarterback this week in Kellen Clemens.  No matter who is behind center, the game plan should not change, and the Jets just need to keep winning one game at a time.  

The Jets are currently tied with Miami, and one game back of the Patriots in the AFC East.  Yes, the Dolphins hold the tie-breaker over New York, but their schedule is brutal down the stretch and at least one loss is likely.  New England could be headed for disarray as they have lost two in a row, haven’t won a road-game all season, and now Tom Brady has a finger and rib injury.  

 

“I think you can make assumptions that our morale was down, but that was an assumption,” coach Rex Ryan said. “We still had a belief. I don’t expect anyone else to believe it and I said that back then. Everybody in this building believes in this football team, that we can still accomplish things. 

“This team is close. We’re close to being a special football team. Nobody can deny that.” 

Ryan’s team will have to be “special” the rest of the season, but cannot look past the 1-11 Bucs.  Thomas Jones should see at least 35 carries in this game, as Clemens hasn’t started a game since a 13-10 win over Kansas City on Dec. 30, 2007, and has appeared in 20 games over four seasons.  Furthermore, he went 3-5 as the starter in 2007. 

Clemens was limited to two passes against Buffalo while getting sacked three times and fumbling once. He should not have to throw the ball much this week with the Jets relying more on the NFL’s best running game, which is averaging 168.6 yards. The Jets will benefit from facing a Buccaneers defense that ranks 31st in the league against the run, surrendering 160.1 yards per game. 

Tampa Bay (1-11) has lost 15 of 16 dating to last season, and rookie coach Raheem Morris doesn’t believe that the team morale is down  after last Sunday’s 16-6 defeat to the Panthers. 

Josh Freeman could have been a Jet

 

“You’re talking about young guys who are going to bring you through this thing,” Morris said. “You’re talking about young guys who are going to get better and better … and grow together. If we were around here and were a veteran team and we had (an acceptance of losing), it would be a problem. But right now, we’re a bunch of babies that are going to grow up together and get better together.” 

Josh Freeman is one of those young players, and the rookie quarterback has shown flashes of strong play. He completed 23 of 44 passes for a season-high 321 yards last week but also threw five interceptions, with three halting drives inside the Carolina 8-yard line.  He has seven TD passes and 10 interceptions in five games as the starter.  

If the Jets hadn’t traded up for Sanchez, this is the guy they probably would have taken.  

Despite Sanchez not starting, if the Jets want to be considered a playoff contender they have to beat this Bucs team.  Sure, Tampa has played better in recent weeks but they are 1-11 for a reason.  Gang Green currently has the NFL’s second rated defense and I can’t see the Bucs doing much on offense.  If Kellen Clemens manages the game and does not throw interceptions that give Tampa a short field, the Jets should win easy. 

Prediction:  Jets 17, Bucs 6 

Key Matchup:  Barrett Ruud vs. Thomas Jones 

News and Notes:  The Jets are 8-1 all-time against the Buccaneers, winning the last six meetings. They posted a 21-17 victory in their last trip to Tampa on Sept. 24, 2000.  In addition to not starting, it has been reported that Sanchez will not travel with the team to prevent any swelling that might occur from flying.   The Jets received some bad news on Thursday as special-teams ace Larry Izzo will miss the rest of the season with a neck injury.  Kerry Rhodes was supposedly given his starting job back, but now people are saying he will just have an increased role and Smith will remain the starter.   It was also reported that he got into a shouting match with the DB’s coach over uncertainty of playing time.  Rex Ryan said he expected Donald Strickland to be able to play this weekend but isn’t as confident in Dwight Lowery suiting up.

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