- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
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What it means: The Jets took care of business, plain and simple. They beat up a one-dimensional team that played with a starting quarterback, Luke McCown, that belongs on the bench -- which is where he finished the day.
Inconsistent Sanchez: We saw the Good Mark Sanchez and the Bad Mark Sanchez. Sanchez led five scoring drives and threw two touchdown passes (tight-window throws to Santonio Holmes and Dustin Keller), but he also threw two bad interceptions. He wasn’t under duress on either throw, yet still made a poor read (the first one) and a bad decision (the second).
When he was at his best, Sanchez was looking for Keller, who caught six passes for 101 yards. The offense seemed to be in sync when Keller was involved. WR Plaxico Burress was an afterthought. He had no catches and was targeted only twice, both in the fourth quarter.
Slump buster: Obviously, the Jets were determined to put an end to their first-quarter slump -- and they did. They won the coin toss and -- surprise! -- elected to receive the opening kickoff. The defensive-minded Rex Ryan always defers so he can put his defense on the field. The Jets got the ball and marched 65 yards on six plays, ending with Holmes’ touchdown.
Slump over: the Jets had gone 16 straight games without a first-quarter touchdown by the offense.
Suffocating D: The Jets’ defense endured a week of hard coaching, coming off a sloppy performance against the Cowboys, and it responded with a dominating performance. The Jets intercepted four passes, including two by CB Antonio Cromartie. McCown was awful and was mercifully pulled in the fourth quarter. Rookie DE Muhammad Wilkerson set the tone with a sack for a safety on the Jaguars’ first possession.
Before everyone declares the return of the Jets’ top-ranked defense (as Rex Ryan almost assuredly will do), let’s consider the opponent: The Jaguars, with pedestrian receivers and no TE Marcedes Lewis (calf), played with one hand tied behind their back. The Jets’ swarmed the line of scrimmage with eight in the box, using a “46” defense at times, taking Maurice Jones-Drew out of the game.
Nnamdi who? The Jets’ ill-fated pursuit of free agent Nnamdi Asomugha seemed to affect Antonio Cromartie, who vowed to play with a chip on his shoulder. Cromartie, beat twice for a touchdown by the Cowboys, owned McCown and made three dynamic plays. He returned the two picks for a total of 63 yards and he added another 46 yards on a kickoff return.
O-line issues: The Jets lost their best lineman, center Nick Mangold, on the next-to-last play of the first quarter. He rolled an ankle and didn’t return. Feel free to panic, Jets fans. Without Mangold, the Jets’ line is ordinary. His replacement, an undrafted free agent named Colin Baxter, really struggled. Come to think of it, so did RT Wayne Hunter, who committed two penalties and allowed a handful of pressures. The overall pass protection was shaky -- and the Jaguars didn’t even blitz that much.
What’s next: The Jets have a lot of traveling to do -- three straight games on the road, at Oakland, Baltimore and New England.