Dan Leberfeld: It will hurt them. There is no doubt about it. He's the Jets' answer to Reggie Bush, a guy who can do some many different things. But with that being said, they should be able to survive.
Thomas Jones is on a roll. He's been outstanding the last two weeks. Don't judge him by his age — he's a marvelously conditioned athlete. Also, he didn't carry the ball much his first few years in the league, first with Arizona and then Tampa Bay. The guy is a robo-back.
And the man he is platooning with now, Shonn Greene, looks like a third-round steal for the Jets in the 2009 draft. He is a 225-pounder with very good speed, quickness and toughness. He's a Ronnie Brown kind of back. Watching him last week, now you can see why the Jets traded up in the third round to get him. They loved him throughout the draft process.
The team's third back will be Danny Woodhead, who had been moved to receiver a couple of weeks ago, but now will likely be used mostly at running back. He's a poor man's version of Washington — a 5-8, 200-pound back with 4.4 speed, great moves and excellent hands to catch the football. He shattered a lot of Division II records at Chadron.
So while Leon's loss is a big one, the Jets should be able to get the job done without him.
Q: Is there concern still about Mark Sanchez's ability to throw in the wind at Giants Stadium?
Leberfeld: Every quarterback, just like every kicker, in his first year in that stadium has a learning curve. The winds are very tricky, and it takes a while to figure them out. He should be fine with time. And it remains to be seen what the winds will be like in the new stadium. They move into it next year. Even though it's right next door, it's configured differently, and is bigger and taller, so that could tweak the wind pattern.
Sanchez's issues with the wind at the Meadowlands, particularly in the Jets loss to Buffalo a few weeks ago, aren't related to arm strength. He has plenty of that, as we saw on his deep passes to David Clowney against Miami and Oakland. But he clearly needs to get a better feel for how the winds work in the swamps of New Jersey, and this could take time.
Q: Was Shonn Greene's breakout game at Oakland a fluke, or do the Jets suddenly have a major 1-2 punch at running back?
Leberfeld: It wasn't a fluke at all. Anybody who saw him play for Iowa last year would tell you they aren't surprised at all. The cat ran over 100 yards in every Hawkeyes game last year. That is quite an accomplishment in the Big Ten. So it's clear the Jets have a terrific 1-2 punch at running back with Thomas Jones and Greene.
Now, granted, it seemed like some Oakland Raiders defensive linemen quit in the second half of this game, but hey, Greene might have had something to do with that. When you are in a blowout, and you have to deal with a huge back in the fourth quarter, that can lead a demoralized team to pack it in a little bit. And honestly, one of the reason the Jets picked Greene was because they believed he could be an excellent fourth-quarter battering ram against teams that are worn down at that point of the game. Against the Raiders, this vision reached fruition.
Q: The Jets have put up major rushing numbers the last two weeks; great offense or bad opposing defenses?
Leberfeld: The Jets offensive line is outstanding. It is definitely a top three line in the league, and they are beating the stuffing out of opponents recently. This an all-star line with four guys who were first-round picks (not all with the Jets). This is also a very highly paid line, and the last couple of weeks, they earned their big paychecks.
In the Buffalo game, to a certain degree, they benefited from the matchup. Aside from defensive tackle Marcus Stroud, the Bills are a smallish front seven, and the Jets' big, aggressive line was able to pound them. Then against the Raiders, it seemed like some of the Oakland guys up front quit.
But keep in mind, the Eagles could do nothing against this front the week before. So the domination of the Jets offensive line was pretty impressive when you consider that. Another huge factor in the success of this line is the team's outstanding OL coach Bill Callahan, one of the best around.
Q: Braylon Edwards was a weapon for the Jets when we saw him three weeks ago; has he kept that up?
Leberfeld: Not really. He's been pretty quiet the last two weeks. Jerricho Cotchery has been hurt with a pulled hamstring, and this has allowed opponents to bracket Edwards. And also the Jets made a big mistake against Buffalo, not throwing to Cotchery's replacement, speedster David Clowney from Delray Beach. They forced the ball to Edwards, and Mark Sanchez threw five picks. This an enormous strategic error. I don't know what they were thinking.
The next week they recified this by throwing to Clowney four times, including on a long touchdown pass. If teams are going to take away Edwards, the Jets need to take advantage of their other weapons, and last week they did. They even got reserve wideout Wallace Wright involved.
With the Dolphins' issues at cornerback, perhaps this is the week Edwards breaks out again.