Whether you think Mark Sanchez, Rex Ryan or Mike Tannenbaum is in the most jeopardy of losing their job, all three took a much-needed step toward job security with the New York Jets' too-close-for-comfort 17-10 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Sanchez did just enough to keep his job as the starter, and Ryan's team did just enough to keep itself alive for the 2012 season.
It's hard to believe that the Jets are still in the playoff hunt, given the way their season has gone, but at 6-7, with three winnable games ahead of them on the schedule, they still have a shot. In fact, with the Pittsburgh Steelers losing to the San Diego Chargers and the Cincinnati Bengals losing to the Dallas Cowboys, the Jets are now just one game out of the final wild-card spot.
Considering that the Jets have been left for dead multiple times this season already, their standing in the playoff race comes as a surprise, but it is a testament to the lack of quit in the team. That hard effort has paid off.
They would still need the Steelers to lose two more games and would need to win all three of their last games in order to make the postseason. The Jets close out the season with two of their final three games on the road against teams with a combined record of 14-25 (.359).
They may be nearing a vegetative state, but they're not dead yet.
The vultures were circling Sanchez after an early sack-fumble, but he was efficient with an extremely light workload (24 dropbacks, 19 pass attempts) and showed enough signs of life to ward off the vultures for another week.
Let's not get too far ahead of ourselves, though. This was not a cure-all win for the Jets.
There's still a long way to go before the Jets can justifiably (by means other than money) keep Sanchez as their starter for 2013, but this was enough to justify not making a change at this point.
The Jets defense has played well the past two weeks and has held opponents to just two third-down conversions on 31 attempts, but temper that excitement with two numbers, 30 and 32, which reflect the rankings of the Jaguars and Cardinals offenses, respectively.
With the way Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne has played against the Jets in the past (three wins in four career games; stat line of 63-of-109, 57.8 percent, 771 yards, 6 TD, 1 INT, 94.2 rating), perhaps they deserve some credit for what they did this week (21-of-43, 48.8 percent, 185 yards, 2 INT, 41.3 rating).
That would be easier to justify, however, if it were anyone but Chad Henne.
The Jets got after Henne with a solid rush from their front four and a variety of pressures, but they also got a lot of help from at least five drops from Jaguars receivers.
If opponents are going to continue making mistakes like that, the Jets' chances at making a late-season push will improve greatly. If they get inspired efforts like what the Chargers handed to the Steelers in their 34-24 upset on Sunday, it could be a lot tougher than that.
Either way, the Jets are not going down without a fight.
Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless specified otherwise, all quotes are obtained firsthand or via team press releases.
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