FLORHAM PARK, NJ – At 10-5, the Jets hold the sixth and final playoff spot with one week to go in the season. The entire team is hurting from the endeavors of a grueling 16-game regular season schedule.
Mark Sanchez (rt. shoulder), Darrelle Revis (hamstring), Antonio Cromartie(groin), Shaun Ellis (back) and James Ihedigbo (knee/ankle) were all either limited to non-participants in Thursday’s practice.
All signs point to parking the battered starters on the bench in a game that on the surface has no significance. LaDanian Tomlinson thinks otherwise.
“You definitely want to end [the season] on a good note. You want to be, as we talking about all year long, playing our best football at this time. So you want the momentum of winning the game. [It is] also a dress rehearsal [to] make sure you’re covering everything you need to do at this time to be ready to go for next week.”
While it maybe counter-productive to have the starters play the entire game, but perhaps Ryan should approach this week as if it’s the third preseason game of the season.
“I guess you can look at it that way,” Ryan said in a press conference Thursday. “Of all the preseason games, that would probably be more like this one. We’re going to try to get the young guys in, but we’re trying to win also. Will we take a Shaun Ellis [out] if he’s not ready to go? Absolutely, we won’t play him.
With the roller coaster ups and downs of the regular season, it’s very important for the team to gain some confidence and momentum as they remain a week away from Wildcard Weekend.
In regards to Sanchez, who looked good taking snaps under center today, that little playing time may be enough to test his ailing right shoulder and get his normal reps in what may be a short week of preparation.
“More than anything, it’s just that routine he’s established,” Ryan said speaking on the importance of Sanchez starting Sunday. “He has a good thing going right now and he’s just comfortable. I just kind of wanted to keep that going. The other thing is to think that we could be playing a Saturday game and if we are, don’t come around here [saying], ‘I haven’t done anything,’ and now all of a sudden, you’re on a short week.”
On the defensive side of things, it is dually important to get in some sort of groove before the playoffs. The Jets defense hasn’t lived up to the expectations after their 2009 campaign. First it was the lack of a pass rush, then it was the thin secondary, now the run defense is beginning to crack.
“I think it had gotten to the point where, in light of the new faces, we needed to go back and do some of the teaching we had done and rebuild the foundation,” defensive coordinator Mike Pettine said. “Some of the things, we realized when we looked back, were summarized as mistakes from the Jets defense 101 class, as opposed to 401. That’s when you need to go back and make sure [the fundamentals are in place].”
Call it a glorified bye week. Call it a tune-up before the playoffs. But whatever you call it, this week will be decisive in how the Jets play two weeks from now.