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EA Q&A: Sanchez Can Lead Jets to Postseason

After seven weeks of the 2012 NFL season, only three teams in the AFC — Houston (6-1), Baltimore (5-2) and New England (4-3) — own better than .500 records.  If the Jets can improve to 4-4 Sunday at home against the Dolphins, the Green & White will put themselves in great position to make a run in the second half.

On Sunday, the Jets have to be on their toes.  Rookie QB Ryan Tannehill has become more of an accurate long ball thrower and the Dolphins D is No. 1 in the NFL on third-down.   (We are still accepting your key matchups for tomorrow as "Fan Friday" on the way.)

Joe U.Ypsilanti, MI

Q: Do you think it is time for the Jets to hire a new QB coach for Sanchez?  It looks like Mark's footwork, reads, and pocket awareness are regressing.  What did (Matt)Cavanaugh ever accomplish as a player to justify his position with the Jets?   Wouldn't Chad Pennington be a natural for the job?

EA:No.  I would argue that Sanchez's pocket awareness has gotten better this year.  He has consistently stepped up and those little steps have made a big difference.  Sanchez played a good ballgame Sunday in Foxboro and he was throwing darts out there in the second half. 

And he has done a nice job adjusting to his personnel.  We are watching Jeremy Kerley blossom as a WR and Sanchez has his security blanket back in Dustin Keller.  When Sanchez anchors and is decisive, man he throws a pretty ball.  In each of Sanchez's first pro seasons, Cavanaugh helped the signalcaller improve his completion percentage, passing yards, TDs and passer rating.

Cavanaugh was an accomplished player in his own right.  An All-America player at Pittsburgh in 1977, Cavanaugh led the Panthers to the 1976 National Championship and was named MVP of the Sugar Bowl.  A second-round selection of the Patriots in 1978, he threw for 4,332 yards and 28 TDs in his career and earned Super Bowl rings as a backup for the G-Men (XXV) and the 49ers (XIX).

I do think Pennington could be an excellent coach (it's in his blood), but this NFL gig isn't for everybody.  The hours are brutal and it isn't easy on family life.  CP has three young sons and I don't think he is eager to leave them soon.    Pennington and Sanchez spent time together this offseason and here's what Penny said of No. 6 in August.

"He's got excellent control with his throws and his ball placement, and also just his body language and how he's carrying himself in and out of the huddle, I think he's doing an outstanding job," said No. 10.  "I think he's definitely gotten better over the offseason and really made a point to take it up to the next level."

In my opinion, Sanchez tries to hard sometimes.  There were a couple of occasions against the Pats when the Jets QB was trying to get rid of the football and defenders had him nearly on the turf.  That happened on the game's last play — he was trying to throw that football instead of living for another day when the pigskin was stripped loose by Rob Ninkovich.  He has the abiltity to improvise and that's all well and good, but if you play with fire…. 

This Jets team can contend for a playoff berth and they might get there if Sanchez plays like he did Sunday in New England. 

DustinMilwaukee, WI

Q: Man that (Konrad) Reuland is a baller, comes off the practice squad in SF and has stepped it up in every game for the Jets.  He has heart. They should make him the number 2 TE and make sure he gets out on the field more.

EA:Well Reuland may be the Jets No. 2 tight end against the Dolphins.  Jeff Cumberland has a dislocated right hand and he didn't practice Wednesday and Thursday.  Cumberland, who has 14 receptions for 143 yards and a TD, told reporters Monday that he'll be back after the bye week.   Dustin Keller missed basically 4.5 games with that balky hamstring, so Reuland has been a key figure throughout the season.  He appeared in 30 offensive snaps against the Pats and 13 special teams plays in Week 7. 

I like your "ballin" assessment.  Reuland was claimed off waivers on Sep. 3, 2012 and he is intent on making the most of his opportunity.  He has been a solid blocker in the run game and has also added five receptions.

EricRoanoke, VA

Q: Is Hayden Smith really so far behind that it would be more advantageous to bring someone outside than to promote him off the practice squad for a few games for depth? I understand he has never played football, but to be on the practice squad must say something about his ability to play.

EA:The Jets placed Smith on the practice squad because they are intrigued by his potential.  The Australian is a true project though as the former international rugby star is still getting acclimated to the game.  Keep in mind the Jets didn't make a move to sign another tight end this week, so Smith will get more this work with the offense this week as opposed to only the scout team.

BobNorth Attleboro, MA

Q: It's all about making plays.  Do you think Maybin or Coples will ever make that crucial sack or will Sanchez make that game winning pass ever again like two years ago?

EA:The Jets have to play better situational football than they did against the Patriots, but they are close to breaking through.  Sanchez has to stop doing dangerous things with the rock, but he was an excellent passer in the second half.  He didn't blink down 10 and he rallied his troops with a 92-yard drive on the road against an elite team.  Yep that NE secondary is below average, but Sanchez did what he was supposed to do.  The two late 3rd downs were crushers — a Stephen Hill drop on a perfectly thrown pass and Jeremy Kerley slipping out of his break.  If either don't happen, the same people who are crushing Sanchez are saying, "Damn, this kid turned the corner.  He just outplayed Brady in his own house."

Maybin admittedly has said that he has to find a way to break through.  Coples has two sacks, 12 QB hurries and five stops behind the line.  His improvement has been gradual, but he is coming along.  This cat is seven games into his NFL career

Aaron S.Huntsville, AL

Howdy EA.   You were asking about a good IPA — try Two Hearted.   It's pretty good and if you are ever down south, my city has some great local breweries: Yellowhammer, Blue Pants, and Straight to Ale… Would you say Cro has all of a sudden developed into a shutdown corner because he certainly kept the Pats receivers in check?  I was also impressed with Trufant on Welker — that is not an easy assignment.

EA:Thanks.  No corner in the NFL is playing better than Cromartie.  I'd like to believe Andre Johnson and Reggie Wayne would tell you the same thing.  True on Tru. 

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