Florham Park, N.J.: Let’s not waste time about how “big” or “important” this game is for the New York Jets. We get it, it’s New England.
No need for Rex Ryan and Bill Belichick comparisons, or how Rex speaks as if him and Belichick will be on the field taking snaps on Sunday.
Let’s point out something that, may be obvious, but at the same time, isn’t.
Since Ryan has been the head coach of the New York Jets, the Jets are 2-4 against the Patriots in the regular season, 1-0 in the playoffs, bringing the total record to 3-4 against their division rival. Almost an even split.
Why does it feel like the series is lopsided?
That 45-3 loss on Monday Night Football might have had more than a one game impact in people’s minds. “I think it’s a little closer than maybe the general public realizes,” said Ryan. “The fact we got slaughtered 45-3 probably tilted that a little bit. I think we’ve played a little closer games than maybe what it looks like on the scoreboard at the end of the game.”
Anyways, as encouraging a sign it is to be near .500 against a division rival who has captured the division crown every year since Ryan has been at the helm, it is also encouraging to know Mark Sanchez has played some of his best football against New England. His game chart against New England is as follows:
|2009 G1||14/22 (63.6)||1||0||W|
|2009 G2||8/21 (38.1)||1||4||L|
|2010 G1||21/30 (70)||3||0||W|
|2010 G2||17/33 (51.5)||0||3||L|
|2010 G3||16/25 (64)||3||0||W|
|2011 G1||16/26 (61.5)||2||0||L|
|2011 G2||20/39 (51.3)||1||2||L|
Sanchez is 3-1 against New England when completing over 60% of his throws. The Jets are 2-0 this season when Sanchez completes 60% or better, with wins against Buffalo (70.4%) and Indianapolis (61.1%). Sixty percent completion percentage is a good number to keep in the back of your mind when watching on Sunday.
The total numbers may seem pedestrian, but Sanchez’s 54.7% career completion percentage is under the 57.1% he has throwing against New England (including playoffs). His completion percentage against any team he has played three teams or more is, you guessed it, the best when facing New England (Chart below).
New England’s pass defense is currently ranked 28th in the NFL. “The numbers usually aren’t great from their defense, but what they do is they play complimentary football,” said Ryan of the Patriots defense. “You can say it’s a bit of a don’t break mentality, but they create turnovers.” For the Jets to win, look for Mark to win it with his arm, the opposite strategy of last week, where the Jets seemed to get their running game back on course. “That is what we are striving for,” said Sanchez. “To be able to rush the ball the way we did and pass the ball efficiently. Whatever it takes to win. If it takes a late game comeback, we have to have that in our bag too. We have to be able to do it all.”
It is certainly encouraging to see Sanchez respond after getting back some offensive weapons in Stephen Hill and Dustin Keller, but Sanchez must stay away from that game-changing momentum turnover that we have seen a little more often than we would like.
“One of the stresses every week is try to control the football and control time of possession,” said Sanchez. “We have to be balanced. But if we need to throw it, we’ll throw it. Whatever we do, we need to be efficient.”
“We will take what they give me and have to be sharp in the passing game,” continued Sanchez. “If they call for a long ball, we have to be prepared for it, but we just have to be efficient whether it’s underneath, intermediate or down the field. We have to be able to convert on third downs, sustain drives and be sharp.”
“Usually they get off to fast starts,” said Tim Tebow of the Patriot’s offense. “When they get off to a fast start and you’re playing from behind, you can’t ground and pound and have to be forced into passes. They’ve always done a great job in bending but not breaking. Letting you drive down the field but eventually they will force you into a mistake.”
With a stout Patriot’s run defense, Sanchez will need to continue his success against New England through the air. Sanchez has shown he can do it before, he needs to show he can do it again.