It wasn't always pretty and the numbers didn't look great, but in the Jets' Monday night victory over the Vikings, the passing attack was critical in sealing a Jets win. In particular, it was the connection between quarterback Mark Sanchez and wide receiver Braylon Edwards, at times in a driving storm, that did the trick.
Edwards made crucial, tough grabs over the middle to move the chains and help the Green & White put points on the board. He continues as one of a number of weapons for Sanchez, who has targeted four receivers — Edwards, Jerricho Cotchery, Dustin Keller and LaDainian Tomlinson — between 25 and 35 times each through the first five weeks of the season, while Santonio Holmes, in his first game as a Jet, had nine passes thrown his way in Week 5.
"Once all of us are on the field at the same time," Edwards said, "there's nowhere you really can turn or double or really prepare for. If you prepare for the run now we have three guys plus Dustin that create mismatch problems. If you want to try to stop the pass, it's going to be hard to do and we have the run game. Once that gets going probably this week in Denver, it's going to be hard for teams to key in on one specific thing that we do."
Against Minnesota, Edwards tied his career high in receptions as a Jet with five. They went for 70 yards, including a 31-yarder on the Jets' very first offensive play. The other four receptions came in situations of second-and-8 or longer, with three of them resulting in first downs. He was also targeted three times on third down, all incompletions
It seems that when Sanchez and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer are in a pinch after first down, they can turn to Edwards to make a play.
The Michigan product is the team's leading receiver with 297 yards and three touchdowns on 17 receptions, but Keller, a pass-catching tight end, has 21 receptions for 268 yards and five scores. However you shake it, especially considering Cotchery's, Holmes' and Tomlinson's contributions, these Jets are simply happy that the team is 4-1 and 3-0 in the division. Everyone knows his role, understands the assets he brings to the table and is happy for the next man.
"Well, it speaks volumes of the type of team we have," head coach Rex Ryan said. "It is a team, and there's going to be some times that Mark is the guy. Sometimes it's going to be Shonn Greene, sometimes it's going to be LT, sometimes it's going to be Braylon or Santonio. That's when you know you've got a great team. The great thing is it's an unselfish group. They just want to win."
The next task on the schedule is a matchup with a prolific passing team as the Jets travel to Denver. Sanchez and company haven't put up anywhere close to the 333 passing yards per game that head coach Josh McDaniels' Broncos have so far this season, but Sanchez's most important numbers— eight touchdowns, zero turnovers — trump Orton's eight TDs and three INTs. Regardless, this will be a tough test in which the Jets will try to control the pace of the game throughout.
"I think we're ready for it," Sanchez said. "I think it's going to be a good challenge, especially before the bye week. We want hit that on a high note and build off of last week and the momentum we've had over the last couple weeks."
"Definitely we're on a roll," Edwards said, "but the thing is going to that bye week, you have two weeks to thing about whatever happens in the outcome of this game. So that'll be something to stick with you for two weeks and [a loss] would leave a bad taste in our mouths. So to get out there, keep this thing rolling, keep the train moving and get a win out there in Denver would be a great thing for us heading into the bye week."