The New York Jets begin the second half of their 2012 schedule with what will be a daunting task. The Jets head into Seattle to take on the 5-4 Seahawks, a franchise that has exceeded expectations up until this point through a variety of talent, tenacity, energy, youth, and passion. Pete Carroll has injected a positive influence over his team that is reflected by the Seahawks’ fierce competitive nature.
New York, on the other hand, is on the verge of watching their 2012 season slip through their fingers. The Jets have lost 4 of their last 5 and are coming off of their worst loss of the season, prior to the bye week, a 30-9 embarrassing loss at home to AFC East foe, Miami Dolphins.
This team’s fan base is seemingly on the brink of revolting against the front office, starting at the top with owner Woody Johnson and General Manager Mike Tannenbaum, and rightfully so. The Jets have been down right embarrassing this season. 2 of their 3 wins have come against inferior ball clubs at home, games that no one expected them to lose. But when will the Jets win a game that they aren’t “supposed” to? Does this team have the mental makeup to pull of an upset, in a hostile environment, on the road? A win in Seattle this week would surely be a step in the right direction, as New York currently stands as a 7 point underdog. However, this will be no easy task. Seattle is dominant in two areas that the Jets have failed to respond to all season long – running the ball and rushing the passer.
Will New York dig deep to shutdown Marshawn Lynch? Will the offensive line step up and provide a spark to a running game that absolutely must be ignited in order to win? Will that same unit be able to hold off a tenacious Seattle pass rush and give Mark Sanchez time and room to get comfortable? Will Sanchez be able to tune out the 12th man and stay poised, or will we see him express that look of a frightened turtle, eager to hide in his shell, that we have all become much too familiar with? Find out all of this and more in this week’s New York Jets Fact Or False.
Marshawn Lynch will run for 100+ yards and 1 touchdown. Fact. New York’s run defense has been laughable all season long as a shell of what this unit once was. The Jets currently rank 29th in run defense, surrendering an average of 141.4 yards per game to opposing offenses. Lynch, on the other hand, ranks second to only Adrian Peterson in rushing yards this season, as he has already compiled 881 yards and 4 touchdowns on the ground. “Beast Mode” has surpassed the century mark in 5 of his team’s 9 games this year, including a 103 yard performance against the league’s second ranked defense in week 7 at San Francisco. The Jets will surely look to key Lynch, as he poses much more of a threat to their defense than rookie QB Russell Wilson and the Seahawks’ aerial attack. Kenrick Ellis is set to return from injury which will greatly bolster the front 7, but expect Seattle to realize the glaring weakness in the Jets defense by feeding Lynch 25-30 times. With a season average of 4.8 yards per carry, that will be ample opportunity for Lynch to amass 100 yards on the ground, an opportunity he will surely take advantage of.
Russell Wilson will not throw a single interception. False. While Seattle will likely lean heavily on Lynch to carry the offense, they are still going to need to pass the ball at times. The Jets have fared very well against rookie quarterbacks this season. In two complete games against rookies (Tannehill week 3, Luck week 6), New York has yet to surrender a touchdown pass, while forcing 3 interceptions, and holding the young quarterbacks to a combined completion percentage of just 47.5. Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine will surely throw some exotic looks at Wilson, who will commit at least one turnover by interception this Sunday.
Mark Sanchez will be sacked 3 times. Fact. Seattle ranks third in the NFL in sacks with 25 total, including 7 from Chris Clemons and 5 from rookie Bruce Irvin. You think these guys are licking their chops at the though of lining up against Austin Howard this week? The noise of the 12th man, and the thought of Clemons and Irvin slamming him to the ground, will surely affect Sanchez’s mentality on Sunday. Look for number 6 to try and get the ball out as quickly as possible. However, with what will likely become a pedestrian effort to run the football by New York, the Jets are poised to be stuck in some third and long situations, forcing Sanchez into 5 and 7 step drops, and you can bet your bottom dollar that Clemons, Irvin, and Co. will be pinning their ears back and coming at Sanchez like bulls chasing a matador. New York will likely give as much help to the offensive line through protection schemes as it can, but don’t expect Sanchez to be able to avert a hat trick of sacks by the Seahawks’ defense.
Tendencies of Rex Ryan’s Jets on the West Coast will come into play this weekend. False. Why, you ask? Because the Ryan led Jets have yet to develop any type of pattern when traveling across the country. Ryan is 2-2 on the west coast. He has a blow out victory (2009 at Oakland), a close victory (2010 at Denver), an embarrassing defeat (2011 at Oakland), and a Tebowed defeat (2011 at Denver) all under his belt. Sanchez has also yet to develop any type of pattern when returning to his home time zone either, as his career numbers on the west coast (77/130, 59.2 completion percentage, 962 yards, 4 TDs, 4 INTs), are very…well, Sanchez-esque. With this group, the cross country trip will likely have no impact on the outcome of this game. As for the hostility of Seattle’s CenturyLink Field, that is an entirely different issue.
Mark Sanchez will remain the starting quarterback next week, despite how he performs on Sunday. False. Many are convinced that Sanchez is safe for the remainder of the year no matter how poorly he may play down the stretch. There is certainly good reason for this popular belief. Sanchez is due a large amount of guaranteed dollars next year, and Tim Tebow is a highly unlikely long term replacement for the position. However, has everyone forgotten how big Rex Ryan’s ego is? This is the same guy who guaranteed Super Bowl victories prior to each of his first three seasons in New York, despite the Franchise’s inability to even return to the big game since Super Bowl III. It has to be absolutely killing him that his team is on the verge of a total collapse and that his starting quarterback could seemingly care less, considering how comfortable he has become with his job security. It will take a lot, but if Sanchez comes out and lays an egg the way he did against San Francisco and Miami, there is a good chance Rex finally snaps and gives 15 the nod in week 11 at St. Louis.
Think about it. At 3-6, the chances of making the playoffs, when looking at the remainder of the schedule, are extremely slim. Why not see what you have in your polarizing backup quarterback? Could things possibly get any worse? Oh, and incase you forgot, the Jets travel to St. Louis in week 11, where Sanchez’s former mentor Brian Schottenheimer happens to be on staff as the team’s current offensive coordinator. Can you imagine the detailed report Schotty could give to St. Louis’s defensive staff regarding Sanchez’s weaknesses? It may come in more volumes than the Harry Potter novels. It will have to be disastrous performance by Sanchez, but this is the New York Jets we are discussing, and much crazier things have happened throughout the history of this franchise.