Tuesday, October 20, 2009
How I See It: AFC East Stock Watch
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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
1. Mark Sanchez, Jets quarterback. He finished the game with an 8.3, a number more suitable for Jason Taylor's average score on "Dancing With the Stars" than for a passer rating. Sanchez was horrendous in Sunday's implosion against the supposedly hapless Buffalo Bills. He completed 10 passes and threw five interceptions to overshadow a 318-yard rushing day by his backs.
Over the past three games, all losses, Sanchez has completed 45 percent of his passes for 429 yards and one touchdown with eight interceptions. That's a 26.5 passer rating since helping the Jets start the season 3-0.
2. New York Jets pass rush. Head coach Rex Ryan's reputation for running a smack-talking, fun-loving, quarterback-rattling unit isn't going to cut it anymore. The Jets haven't lived up to their billing or come close to following up on that enticing first impression from opening day, when they chased Matt Schaub like he was on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list.
They rank sixth in average points allowed and eighth in average yards per game, but they've recorded five sacks. The Detroit Lions have three times that many. Now the Jets have to forge ahead without elite nose tackle Kris Jenkins, who suffered a season-ending knee injury Sunday.
3. Adalius Thomas, Patriots linebacker. The Patriots made Thomas a healthy scratch for Sunday's 59-0 bludgeoning of the Tennessee Titans. The surprise move forced a mainstay to watch passively in street clothes. Thomas had missed games with injury before, but he had started every game he played since Week 14 of the 2003 season with the Baltimore Ravens.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick on Monday said a lot of factors played into the decision, including situations they expected to encounter frequently and the ability of other players to contribute on special teams. When asked about Thomas' status moving forward, Belichick said "I don't know. It was one game. We'll evaluate it this coming week against Tampa like we always do. This week is different from last week."
1. New England Patriots offense. The way the Titans folded Sunday in snowy Gillette Stadium, the game turned into a quasi-scrimmage for the Patriots. The Patriots' offense, still searching for their identity after five weeks, couldn't have been happier.
Tom Brady threw five second-quarter touchdown passes in less than 10 minutes and six for the game. He involved all of his receivers, with Randy Moss and Wes Welker combining for 18 catches, 279 yards and five touchdowns. Laurence Maroney ran for 123 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.
2. Thomas Jones, Jets running back. The addition of receiver Braylon Edwards already is paying dividends for last year's AFC rushing champ. Jones set a franchise record with 210 rushing yards Sunday. Granted, he averaged 9.5 yards per attempt against an atrocious Bills run defense, but no other back has ripped off runs of 64 and 71 yards against them.
In the three games since he averaged 1.4 yards with a long run of 5 yards against the Titans in Week 3, Jones has 300 yards and five touchdowns. And the Jets have managed to lose all three of those games.
3. Dick Jauron's chances of being employed on Halloween. Bills fans have wanted him gone for weeks, but Jauron did just enough to justify a reprieve -- if owner Ralph Wilson was considering a pink slip. We're not sure what Wilson's thinking about his beleaguered head coach these days, but if they're into wouldas, couldas and shouldas, the Bills can rationalize a 4-2 record.
If only Leodis McKelvin hadn't fumbled to gift wrap a win for the Patriots on opening night or Roscoe Parrish hadn't fumbled in that jarring loss to the Cleveland Browns two weeks ago ... If only the Jets don't botch an overtime field-goal attempt or Sanchez throws only three interceptions, the Bills might've introduced an interim coach Monday.