Heading into the grudge match, much has been said about the ability of Pats coach Bill Belichick to disguise defensive coverages and confound a young quarterback.
That’s certainly true, and Sanchez figures to have some rough moments at Giants Stadium. He’ll take the kind of graduate exam in reading defenses and avoiding the rush that he never faced in his one year as a starter at USC.
But it’s also true that if the Jets play to their strength Sunday, then Sanchez won’t have to win the game on his own.
Indeed, Sanchez may be only a supporting player.
The Jets, on paper, should be able to run the ball down the Patriots’ throats.
It would be a surprise if the Jets are not able to control the clock, the tempo, and the game with Thomas Jones and Leon Washington running behind a solid, veteran offensive line.
It would be a surprise if the Jets don’t win the time of possession statistic by a decisive margin.
Unless the Jets are sloppy with the football and give the Pats short fields with which to work, Sunday’s game could be similar to the Giants’ Super Bowl XXV win over the Bills, in which the victors held the ball more than 40 minutes.
Or the Jets could run over, around and through the Pats in the kind of embarrassingly one-sided victory for which safety Kerry Rhodes has called.
The Pats’ best tackler, middle linebacker Jerod Mayo, is out with an injury.
And the Pats will rue the decision to trade defensive line stud Richard Seymour, who showed this past Monday night for the Raiders that he’s still at the top of his game.
Jets versus Patriots really should not be about the performance of Sanchez if the Jets play the way they are best suited.
Smashmouth football, anyone?