Q)The Jets latest loss obviously a product of turnovers, especially the mistakes from QB Mark Sanchez (4 INTs 1 Fumble). Is it time to bench the rookie?
Leberfeld: Now, its absolutely not the time to bench Sanchez. The team is likely out of the playoff hunt (though you never know in the crazy AFC), so why would you not want to give him all the reps you can down the stretch? That will help him for next year.
The weird part about most of Sanchezs picks in Foxboro they werent a byproduct of the Patriots trickly schemes, which do in a lot of quarterbacks. The issue was his accuracy, which was very poor on most of the picks - overthrows, underthrows, etc.
Honestly, the Jets formula right now isnt a good one for a rookie quarterback. They are asking the kid, who came out after his junior year, to throw a lot of passes down field, risky throws. You would think the Jets would use a more conservative passing game with such an inexperienced signal-caller.
Rex was with Joe Flacco last year in Baltimore. That pass game was more conservative than Rush Limbaugh. Basically Flacco took one shot down field during the game.
Sometimes you sense the Jets forget they have a rookie quarterback.
As for the fumble, that was the fault of left tackle DBrickashaw Ferguson for letting Tully Banta-Cain blow by him.
Q)The Jets appeared to have a shot at getting right back into the game after the blocked punt TD before the half and the 11-play 80-yard TD drive in the third to get the score to within 10. How realistic were their comeback chances?
Leberfeld: I thought their chances of a comeback were great. They were down 10, and made some excellent defensive halftime adjustments. and when they cut it too ten, there was still a lot of time left. They still had a decent chance of coming back, but the ill-advised throw by Mark Sanchez, from his goalline, to Jerricho Cotchery, who wasnt open, early in the fourth, that was picked by Brandon Meriweather, was the Jets death knell.
This game should not have been a blowout. The Jets lost for two reasons they couldnt cover Wes Welker in the slot, and Sanchezs five turnovers. I really dont know what Rex was thinking having Drew Coleman mainly covering Welker. That is a mismatch of biblical proportions. I know that Welker is a nightmare for most who cover slot receivers, but Coleman doesnt have great instincts, and if you dont have top-shelf instincts, you have no shot against this crafty wideout.
Q) With five minutes left in the game, trailing by 17, why did the Jets call runs on 4 of their next 6 plays? Was it stat padding, or something else?
Leberfeld: They had little choice. Their rookie quarterback had turned into a turnover machine. Even down by that amount, they needed balance. It might seem strange, but I didnt have an issue with those runs.
The biggest issue I had with the play-calling was how little Braylon Edwards was involved. Hes a potential franchise receiver and the Jets are treating him like just another guy. It's strange.
Q) Obviously Rex Ryan basked in the glow of victory with the Week 2 win over New England, even inviting the media attention before and after the game. What kind of reaction do you expect he'll have his week, and does he deserve the blame for the Jets slide?
Leberfeld: Rex deserves some of the blame. Like I said before, to have Drew Coleman on Wes Welker is just a bad decision. Another poor coaching decision in Foxboro was de-activating Justin Miller and having starting cornerback Dwight Lowery return kicks. Lowery is a good kick returner, but against the Pats, you need to keep your cover corners fresh, and healthy. Lowery suffered a bad ankle sprain returning the second half kickoff and didn't return.
But the biggest issue with the Jets defense overall is the lack of a dynamic pass rusher off the edge. This is killing them. And that isnt Rexs fault. That is at the doorstep of the personnel department. Missing on Vernon Gholston is really hurting the Jets.
I think Rex is going to be a very good head coach. But he, like Sanchez, is learning on the job, and both the coach and quarterback should be much better in Year Two.
Q)Where do you see the Jets finishing the season from here?
Leberfeld: I think they could finish 9-7. I honestly think they are going to win their next four games - Carolina, Buffalo (at Toronto), at Tampa Bay, and Atlanta. Then I think they will lose at Indianapolis and then upset Cincinnati to finish the season.
This team has too much pride and talent for this slide to continue. I honestly see the next four games as victories.
In the NFL, you need to run the football and stop the run to be successful, and the Jets have done that most weeks.
But here is the key, and Rex Ryan put it perfectly after the game We have to look at what we are asking [Mark Sanchez] to do."
Right now they are asking him to do too much.
They need to dial back the number of risky passes hes being asked to throw, and try to win with a great running game, terrific defense, standout special teams, and just a little bit from the cube."
Dan Leberfeld is widely respected as one of the leading Jets insiders today. Dan started and still runs the most authoritative print publication for the NY Jets, Jets Confidential. His "Whispers" column has become a must read for NY Jets fans. The publication is available on newsstands and by subscription. In addition, Dan hosts several programs on Sirius NFL Radio.