When the Jets pass
Mark Sanchez is among the most wildly inconsistent players in the NFL. And that’s among all players — not just quarterbacks. The 6-foot-2-inch, 225-pounder has solid physical skills. He has size, strength, and speed. Sanchez has quick feet and a better-than-average arm. When given a clean pocket (and that’s rare), he will make good decisions and good throws. However, at the slightest bit of pressure, Sanchez gets rattled. He will abandon the pocket quickly (not always a bad idea, because he has the athleticism to make plays with his legs) or he will get rid of the ball quickly (not always a good idea, because it usually leads to incompletions or interceptions). Sanchez’s biggest bugaboo is his body language. When things don’t go well, he mopes. This behavior affects not only his play but that of his teammates. You’ll never see Tim Tebow sulk. The fiery Tebow can seemingly do everything on the football field — except throw a consistent 10-yard out. Receivers Stephen Hill (he can be explosive), Jeremy Kerley (excels underneath), and Chaz Schilens (big and strong but will disappear for stretches) haven’t helped Sanchez much. Tight end Dustin Keller is a reliable target who has been slowed by injuries. New England corners Kyle Arrington (he’s inconsistent) and Devin McCourty (please turn around) are routinely getting torched, while the rotating crew of safeties has been a day late and a dollar short all season.
Passing yards per game
New York offense: 184.3 (30th)
New England defense: 288.8 (28th)
Jets’ key player: Tim Tebow
A true lightning rod on and off the field — love him or hate him, everyone has an opinion — Tebow is one of the most competitive players in the game. His throwing mechanics are horrible, but wouldn’t you want the ball in his hands on fourth and 1?
How he beats you: With a fiery spirit, a strong will, and a willingness to play anywhere. The 6-foot-3-inch, 236-pounder is muscular and athletic. He is a football player, pure and simple — so put the ball in his hands.
How to beat him: By matching his intensity. No matter where he lines up — QB, HB, TE — the defense has to know where he is at all times. Whether he has the ball in his hands or not, he must be punished. If not, he will punish you.
JETS ’ KEYS TO VICTORY:
1. No lounging: Mark Sanchez too often looks like he’d rather be sunning himself on West Palm Beach. He is already on borrowed time. He needs to step up and be this team’s leader.
2. On the clock: It’s imperative to keep the ball out of Tom Brady’s hands. The Jets need to run the ball effectively early and keep both QBs from becoming factors.
3. Flip this field: Jeremy Kerley may not be a great receiver — yet — but he is dangerous on returns. He needs to find the seams and keep the field short for his club.
PATRIOTS’ KEYS TO VICTORY:
1. Even Stevan: It’s quite clear the road to success is a balanced offense, so let Stevan Ridley (and his running mates) get their touches to help move the chains.
2. Rattle some cages: Mark Sanchez can’t get comfortable. A pass rush is imperative because when the California kid is given time, he will complete passes. But he can’t from his keister.
3. Time management: Last week’s coaching decisions are still hard to comprehend. Who was that in that new-look gray hoodie? This week take the points, not the chances.
Prediction: Patriots 31, Jets 22
Jim McBride can be reached at email@example.com.