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Sunday notes: Imagine this -- Rex vs. Jets

11/17/2012

ST. LOUIS -- A quick look at the Jets and the NFL:

1. What might have been: If things had broken differently in January, 2009, the Jets could be facing Rex Ryan and the Rams Sunday here in St. Louis. How weird does that sound? Ryan interviewed with the Rams and Jets during the Ravens' playoff run -- same day, in fact -- and he told me this week he could've landed the Rams' job. "I don't know if they want me to say," he said, smiling broadly. "Just say I felt good about it."

Ryan interviewed at 7 a.m. with then-Rams GM Billy Devaney at a hotel near the Ravens' facility. It ran long, and "I remember trying to haul ass to get to see Woody (Johnson) and Mike (Tannenbaum)," said Ryan, who met them near BWI Airport. He arrived 45 minutes late, but made quite an impression, obviously. He said he "felt good about either place," but jumped at the Jets' offer for a variety of reasons.

The Rams ended up hiring Steve Spagnuolo, who was fired after 10-38 in three seasons. The Jets also interviewed Spagnuolo. Despite the current swoon, they hired the right guy at the right time.

2. What might have been, part II: QB Mark Sanchez told the St. Louis media this week he thought there was a chance the Rams were going to draft him second overall in 2009. "It sounded like it," he said. "It sounded like things were getting close between there and even Seattle (fourth), talking to Seattle the day before the draft. They were talking about making a move up or drafting me that early."

The Rams tried to bluff the Jets into trading up to No. 2, with Devaney telling Ryan he'd have no quarterback if he missed out on Sanchez. Ryan told Devaney that he'd draft WR Percy Harvin and would be on the next plane to Mississippi to recruit Brett Favre into returning for another year. The Jets called their bluff. The Rams picked OT Jason Smith (ugh!), now a Jets backup, and the Jets moved up to the No. 5 spot to take Sanchez.

3. Tanny-speak. In my sitdown with Tannenbaum this week, he made an eyebrow-raising remark about his philosophy on team building.

"We’ve never gone for broke here," he said. "We’ve never mortgaged multiple picks to win now. That’s not what we believe in. We believe in a systematic approach to win every year. In no year do we put more eggs into one basket."

The numbers suggest otherwise. Since 2009, the Jets have made only 21 draft picks, tied with the Saints for the lowest in the league. Of the 67 players on their roster, including practice and injured reserve, only 37 percent (25) were acquired through the draft -- the fourth-lowest percentage in the league, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

4. Mike & Mike. I heard Tannenbaum's interview Friday with WFAN's Mike Francesa. My only question is, why agree to the interview? It's like picking between Aaron Maybin and Vernon Gholston -- a no-win situation.

5. End zone = dead zone. Three of Sanchez's nine interceptions have occurred on throws into the end zone, tied for a league high, according to ESPN Stats & Information. That's three picks on 17 attempts. Entering the season, he had only two interceptions on 105 throws into the end zone. That stat surely will prompt some fans to scream, "They should've re-signed Plaxico Burress'' -- a solid red-zone threat. Know this: The pre-2012 interceptions both occurred last season, when Burress was on the team.

6. Schotty Bowl. Emotions will be high Sunday when the Jets face their former offensive coordinator, Brian Schottenheimer. Say what you want about him, but he called the plays in a lot of Jets wins -- 51-45 in six seasons. By the end of last season, it was clear there needed to be a change. It was best for both sides. Interestingly, he moved his family to Nashville before the 2011 season, according to a league source. Some say he wanted his family to grow up in the South, but it also shows he didn't think he'd be with the Jets for the long haul.

7. The 'Cat count. You know what really bugs Tony Sparano? It's when people refer to the Tim Tebow package as the Wildcat. In fact, the Jets have used only eight true Wildcat plays, according to Sparano. Tebow has been on the field for 62 offensive snaps.

8. Vinny likes Tebow. The other day, ESPN.com quoted former Jets QB Vinny Testaverde as saying the Jets should make Tebow a running back. He was actually saying they should make Tebow the quarterback so he could better utilize his running skills. Testaverde thinks Tebow would provide a spark to the team.

9. Stat of the week: The Bears' defense has scored eight touchdowns -- 56 points. The Jets' leading scorer is PK Nick Folk -- 55 points.

10. A must-read for football fans: You should check out "Coaching Confidential," a behind-the-scenes look into the lives of NFL coaches. The book, released this week, is written by Gary Myers of the New York Daily News. It contains some juicy stuff, especially on the Jets and Patriots. Some nuggets:

Patriots owner Robert Kraft calls Bill Belichick a "schmuck" after the SpyGate penalties are handed down ... The Bill Parcells-to-Jets deal was agreed upon while the 1996 season still was going on ... The Jets had Josh Freeman rated ahead of Sanchez before their private workout with Sanchez ... Ryan tore into Sanchez on the flight home from the infamous hot dog-eating incident in Oakland: "Dude, you showed up a team. You were disrespectful to the game and you were disrespectful to your opponent." And there's plenty of other good stuff.