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On paper, this game was never expected to play out into much of a contest, and to the satisfaction of New York Jet fans, it never really was. The Jets cruised to 2-0 on the season (2-0 at home) with an easy 32-3 win over the injury-ridden Jacksonville Jaguars, who fell to 1-1(0-1 away). The win however, was nothing close to pretty.
Trying to improve their struggling first quarter offensive production, defense-minded Jets’ coach Rex Ryan opted to receive the kickoff, trying to break a 16-game streak without a touchdown in the opening quarter. Four minutes later, in their throwback uniforms, the Jets led 7-0 on a leaping circus catch by Santonio Holms. Despite trying to emphasize the run game, which they neglected in their win versus the Cowboys last week, Mark Sanchez led the scoring opening drive with 60 pass yards and only five rushing yards.
Shonn Greene rushed for only 49 yards on 16 carries, making it hard for the Jets to find any consistent success on the ground. Drive after drive, Greene would get the first down carries and would collapse behind a struggling offensive line, a noted weakness in need of improvement. With the exit of center, Nick Mangold, the struggles of the O-line only worsened. Sanchez was forced to constantly run outside the pocket and use his legs to keep the play alive; something he ended up doing quite well near the end of the game but it did hurt him early on.
Throwing for 182 yards with 2 touchdowns and as many interceptions, Sanchez has a long way to go before he can carry the Jets to a level where they can compete with the likes of Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. His offensive line did little to protect him, forcing him to rush some passes for interceptions. Adapting quickly, Sanchez came out in the second half and started to make some quick releases and better reads, finding his poise and accuracy with the help of a big day from Dustin Keller, who had 6 receptions for 101 yards and a touchdown.
Luke McCown was no match for the Jets Defense. With star tight end Marcedes Lewis injured on the sidelines, McCown was short of enough weapons to match the relentless Jets’ secondary. With first round draft pick, Muhammad Wilkerson, scoring a safety in the first quarter, the Jets’ defensive dominance was made apparent from the beginning and was later exemplified throughout the game with four interceptions and three points allowed. This is and will be the strength of this New York team and a quarterback with nine starts in an eight-year career never had a chance. Rookie, Blaine Gabbert came in to provide some relief from the abysmal performance of McCown, but the results were the same.
The Jacksonville Jaguars had their chances to capitalize from Jets’ turnovers, but couldn’t. This will not be the case with most of the other teams in the league. Penalties, interceptions, and a poor rushing game will never let the Jets get that elusive Super Bowl berth that Rex Ryan keeps promising. There is a long way to go for Sanchez and the Jets despite their 2-0 record. At the end of the day, their defense will only get them so far and with the way New England is playing, the Jets have a lot to worry about in the AFC East.