With Jenkins gone for the year and Sanchez struggling, where do the Jets go from here?
How quickly things can change in 21 days.
It seems like just yesterday these Jets were the toast of the league at 3-0, seemingly destined for a run deep into January with a lights-out defense and a rookie quarterback playing as if he was a ten-year veteran. But here we stand now with the same club at 3-3, having just suffered a disastrous loss to the previously 1-4 Buffalo Bills.
And if that wasn’t enough to make the New York sports media go into full-scale Panic Mode, the news today that nose tackle Kris Jenkins will miss the remainder of the season with a torn ACL suffered in yesterday’s loss certainly has to do the trick.
“It’s going to be hard to replace Kris,” head coach Rex Ryan said. “There’s not many Kris Jenkins playing in this league. Obviously, his impact is going to be felt. I have a lot of confidence in the guys we have behind him, Sione (Pouha) and Mike DeVito. I have confidence in these guys, but to think they are going to come in and play like Kris, that’s not realistic. We’re all going to have to step up our game to make up for the loss.”
“It comes with the game,” Jenkins said. “My feelings are hurt that I won’t be able to be out there fighting with my teammates this year. It still doesn’t mean I’m not a part of this team. Things happen for a reason. I’ll take care of it, get it together and go from there.”
This injury couldn’t come at a worse time for this club. They were already reeling from three straight bad losses, and now a key cog of their defense is gone for the year. A lot of what a Rex Ryan defense does is predicated on having a big tackle in the middle of the defensive line to bottle up the running game – his units in Baltimore reached another level when the team drafted Haloti Ngata, the mammoth defensive tackle currently occupying Jenkins’ spots in the Ravens’ defense.
So how does the defense recover? Ryan was right – you can’t replace a player like Jenkins, so it’s not really worth trying to find someone that’s going to give you the production he did. But they need to understand what opposing defenses are going to do to them from here on out.
If you thought opponents were trying to run against this defense before, just wait and see how often they try and pound the rock with Jenkins out of the lineup. The way to neutralize Ryan’s exotic blitzes is to stay out of third-and-long situations, and if they can run the ball effectively, those situations will become nonexistent. It won’t be easy, but it’s imperative Ryan figures out a way for this defense to stop the run with Jenkins gone. If they don’t, teams will be running the ball over, through and around this unit for the next 10 weeks.
THE PSYCHE OF SANCHEZ
Five picks in a single game have to weigh on you. You wouldn’t be human if they didn’t.
But what separates us from the athletes we cheer is not just their talent, but their mental toughness. Their ability to move forward when they come extremely close to single-handedly costing their team the game, and somehow block it out the next time they take the field.
That’s what Mark Sanchez must do now after the worst game of his brief professional career, and he must do it quickly to maintain the confidence his coaches and fellow teammates have in him. But those coaches don’t seem to think his confidence is a problem, a welcome sign both in the locker room and in the stands.
“He’s resilient,” Ryan said of Sanchez. “He’s going to come back from this. I believe that. He’s mad at himself because he thinks he let his team down. Could he have played better? Absolutely. There’s a lot of guys that could have played better. When he makes a mistake, they are obviously much more glaring and he has to realize that sometimes it’s okay to take the incompletion. You don’t have to try to force a ball in there and try to complete every pass. If it’s not there, get rid of it.”
As for the rest of the team, Ryan offered the same positive message as to the morale of the rest of his troops.
“We have a lot of good players on this team. We are not backing down, we are stepping up and that’s the way it’s got to be. Each week, it’s win one game a week and that’s not asking too much. That’s where our entire focus is going to be. Not looking behind us, not looking too far ahead. We are about the present. Right now, we are going to play Oakland and our entire focus and everything is going to be on just accomplishing that mission, not getting ahead of ourselves.”
The team returns to the practice field Wednesday for a workout beginning at 11:50. Check back to JetsInsider for all your news and updates.