Friday, November 16, 2012
W2W4: Jets at Rams
By Rich Cimini
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The Jets haven't won a football game in five weeks. Can you say "desperate"?
They hope to snap a three-game losing streak Sunday against the Rams (3-5-1) at the Edward Jones Dome. It's the Schotty Bowl, as the Jets face their former offensive coordinator, Brian Schottenheimer. The Rams have their own issues -- an 0-3-1 stretch -- but this is a rebuilding year for them. Lately, the Jets (3-6) have looked like one, too.
Kickoff is 1 p.m. What to watch for:
Midwest Jets: The spotlight will be on Schottenheimer, who spent six seasons with the Jets, the last three on Rex Ryan's staff. He can downplay it all he wants, but this game is special for him. The Rams' roster includes five former Jets -- starting C Rob Turner, OT Wayne Hunter, TE Matthew Mulligan, QB Kellen Clemens and RB Terrance Ganaway. Hunter, run out of New York during the preseason, is used as an extra blocker in jumbo packages. Mulligan plays about 20 snaps a game in a blocking role.
The Sanchez-Tebow soap opera: Mark Sanchez, who has four turnovers and 5.4 yards-per- attempt average over the last two games, needs to snap out of his funk. He probably won't lose his job this week -- it would be hard to switch to Tim Tebow on a short week for the Thanksgiving night game against the Patriots -- but there's no reason for another mistake-filled game. The Rams haven't forced a turnover since Week 5 and they've allowed 29 points per game over the last four. Look for Tebow to have an expanded role, as he did last week.
Under pressure: The Jets won't be a decent offense until they learn to handle extra pressure. No quarterback in the league gets blitzed more than Sanchez (5+ rushers on 39 percent of his dropbacks), and there have been too many protection breakdowns. Fortunately for the Jets, the Rams aren't a big blitzing team, but that could change.
Don't be surprised to see Cortland Finnegan blitzing from the slot on third downs. Usually, the Rams rely on their front four, which has produced 19.5 of their 26 sacks. The Robert Quinn-D'Brickashaw Ferguson matchup is key.
Danny Boy: It's no secret where QB Sam Bradford likes to throw the ball -- WR Danny Amendola, whom the Jets describe as a faster version of Wes Welker. Bradford has completed 72 percent of his passes when targeting Amendola, who is deadly in the slot.
That could be problematic for the Jets, who lost their slot corner -- Isaiah Trufant -- to a season-ending injury last week. Antonio Cromartie will cover Amendola on the outside, but not in the slot. That assignment could go to Ellis Lankster or maybe they will pull Aaron Berry out of moth balls.
Slammin Sammy: If there's one thing we know about the Rams, it's that they're not very good at protecting Bradford -- 25 sacks allowed. They've had a lot of moving parts on their offensive line. The Jets don't have a high regard for Turner, whom they let walk as a free agent without so much as an offer. Don't be surprised if they run some A-gap blitzes. The Jets are coming off one of their best pass-rushing days of the season, and they need to keep the heat on Bradford.