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Can Mark Sanchez Lead the Jets into the Playoffs?

EAST RUtheRFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 18:  Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York Jets passes against  the Buffalo Bills during their game on October 18, 2009 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Nick MordowanecCorrespondent IOctober 19, 2009

The New York Jets were on top of the world a few weeks ago. The team was undefeated, got a big win over the Patriots, and the defense looked impenetrable. New head coach Rex Ryan and rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez looked like veterans in each of their positions.


Now, after winning their first three games, the Jets have dropped three in a row. Sanchez has looked very much like a rookie lately, and the defense has lost its swagger as the season has continued.


The worst loss was probably this past Sunday, a 16-13 overtime defeat at the hands of the lowly Buffalo Bills at the Meadowlands. The Bills were reeling, last in the division, and their starting quarterback, Trent Edwards, was knocked out early and deemed too concussed to return.


It was an opportunity for the Jets to stop the bleeding and get a victory to get the train back on the tracks.


Instead, Sanchez threw five interceptions and the team folded down the stretch. When facing active defenses like those of the Saints and Dolphins, Sanchez has had trouble making reads and getting big plays on offense. The Jets traded up and drafted him so high because he has the ability to make big plays, but he is hitting that proverbial rookie wall.


You can’t put all the blame on a kid right out of college, though. The running game has done its best to keep the team in recent games, but the defense has been struggling as of late. Ryan was brought in to make the defense one of the best units in the league, just as he had done in Baltimore, but big stops have been hard to come by.


The Jets allowed a total of 33 points in their first three games, all victories. In the last three contests, however, the team has given up 71 points—more than double the amount—in what turned out to be three losses.


Some semi-good news for the Jets is their schedule. They play the Raiders, Panthers, Buccaneers, and Jaguars down the stretch, which are all very winnable games. They still have to play one more game against each team in their division, too.


Not having a bye until Week Nine may leave Sanchez a little overwhelmed, but the team will have some good opportunities to get right back into the thick of the AFC race. It’s been tough for the young QB from California who has not had much experience losing games, but like the old adage says, “You’ve got to lose to know how to win.”


He should ask the quarterback who plays for the other team from New York.

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