Dan Leberfeld: Aside from the New Orleans game, he's played very well. I don't think a lot of people thought the Jets would be 3-1 coming out of September with their schedule. He has certainly benefited from a veteran offensive line, good running game and outstanding defense. Like Joe Flacco last year, he stepped into an ideal situation for a rookie quarterback.
Remember, the Jets were 9-7 last year, and they weren't picking in the Top 10 entering the draft. They were at 17 and had to trade up to get Sanchez. A big reason so many rookie quarterbacks struggle mightily is because they go to bad teams, and they are asked to do too much. Sanchez hasn't had to deal with that scenario. The Jets should have made the playoffs last year, but Brett Favre was so awful down the stretch, he knocked them out of contention.
In my opinion, the Jets strayed from their blueprint against New Orleans and asked Sanchez to do too much, especially on his two disastrous plays that led to 14 points for New Orleans. His pick-six to Darren Sharper was right in the deep middle, and the Jets were asking for trouble with that play call. And on the fumble in the end zone, it was crazy to have a rookie fade back that deep against a Saints team with Charles Grant and Will Smith coming off the edge.
Q: What kind of impact would you expect Braylon Edwards to make?
DL: If he stops partying, he can have a huge impact. The Jets have lacked a big, physical playmaking wide receiver since Keyshawn Johnson was traded in 2000. Edwards gives them that kind of guy. He should make a big difference as soon as he's comfortable with the offense. It shouldn't take him long because Browns offensive coordinator Brian Daboll worked under Brian Schottenheimer for two years in New York, and took a lot of the Jets offense to Cleveland.
Let's not forget this guy was the third pick overall in the 2005 draft, so he was considered an enormous talent coming out of MEE-CHEE-GUINN, as Jim Mandich likes to say. If he finally decides that honing his craft at wide receiver is more important than fame and nightclubs, this trade could turn out to be a steal.
Q: Thomas Jones led the AFC in rushing last season but hasn't put up big numbers this year; what's the issue there?
DL: The issue is two-fold. First off, Rex Ryan and the Jets offensive coaches have decided to get Jones' backup Leon Washington more touches, so that has hurt Jones' ability to get into a groove. He is definitely one of those backs who gets stronger as the game goes on. The Miami resident is a workout warrior who never seems to get tired, so his power and great conditioning help him often flourish late in game. But coming in and out of the lineup has messed up his flow.
The second issue is the inconsistency of the offensive line. The Jets, like the Dolphins, have a well-paid offensive line, and they did have a good season last year, but they had a number of injuries in training camp, and this has hurt their continuity early in the season. Damien Woody, Alan Faneca and Nick Mangold all missed time in Cortland due to injuries. So the line entered the season out of sorts and is playing catch-up, and this has hurt the run blocking.
Q: Much is made of the Dolphins' lack of a stud receiver and the Jets were in the same boat before the Edwards trade. Did you think their receiving corps was good enough?
DL: Now it is with Edwards. And, remember, when you talk about the Jets receiving corps, you need to throw in tight end Dustin Keller, who runs 4.5 and like Antonio Gates in San Diego, has often been the No. 1 target in games.
Jerricho Cotchery is one of the most underrated players in the NFL. The soft-spoken Birmingham native runs great routes, has terrific hands, and consistently gets the job done. But since he's not a braggodocio receiver, he doesn't get a lot of notoriety.
But with No. 2 WR Chansi Stuckey now in Cleveland, the Jets have a big void in the slot, and they need backup wideout Brad Smith and Delray Beach native David Clowney to step up. Neither has really established themselves as consistent targets on the NFL level.
Q: The Jets offensive line has four former first-round picks; is it playing that way?
DL: No, but they haven't been terrible, just terribly inconsistent. On the Thomas Jones 15-yard touchdown against New Orleans, you saw their tremendous potential as a unit. Every lineman got a hat on a hat, and Jones waltzed into the end zone.
The tackle play against New Orleans was a little disappointing, but keep in mind Charles Grant and Will "The Fresh Prince of Utica" Smith might be the best end combo in the league. They give most teams fits, but D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Damien Woody need to play better.
Nick Mangold hasn't been as great as he was last year, so you have to wonder if the preseason knee injury he suffered is still bothering him.