Jets players looked exhausted Friday afternoon after leaving Toronto following their 19-13 win over Buffalo and arriving back in New Jersey at 3 a.m. A few players had some time to chat after their video session and spoke about the injury to rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez and their thoughts on the near future.
"It was courageous of him to try and get the first down," said second-string QB Kellen Clemens who stepped in at QB after Sanchez went out midway through the third quarter. "It was unfortunate that that was the play that it happened on. We'll see how it all plays out. Hopefully Mark is not seriously injured."
"It's hard," said S Kerry Rhodes, an all-state honorable mention QB at Lanier High School in Alabama. "When you're a competitor and you're on the field, you're going to try to get the first down. It's one of those things where his competitive spirit came out. That's what you want to see as a teammate but for the long run and the long haul he has to be healthy in order for us to be successful."
Head coach Rex Ryan said later Friday that Sanchez has a sprained PCL and was "optimistic" about the QB's availability but not ready to declare him the starter for the Dec. 13 game at Tampa Bay. But the few days off that Ryan called a "mini-bye" could be helpful to give No. 6 some rest.
"We'll wait to figure it out when the tests come back and see what the prognosis is on Mark's knee," said Clemens. "I'll continue to prepare and things will or will not be different during practice based on how hurt he is."
Clemens threw only two passes in the final 1½ quarters. His sole completion was a key third-and-12 out-route to Jerricho Cotchery for 14 yards. The play extended the drive and the duo of Thomas Jones and Shonn Greene were able to carry the Jets O into field goal range.
"Having a chance to throw to some of those guys and just get some reps in our offense during practice where you can just sit back and evaluate it will be huge going in to the next game," Clemens said. "If I'm playing the next game, we'll see how things go."
Greene carried the ball five times for 21 yards on that eight-play, 34-yard drive. Playing alongside Clemens during practice and throughout training camp, the rookie runner is confident in the QB's ability to manage the game.
"I think he did a good job," Greene told newyorkjets.com. "He's a veteran, he knows what to do and he knows the system very well. I didn't think it was a problem for him. He came in and did what he was supposed to do.
"He's a good student of the game, he studies film a lot and he knows this system very well like the back of his hand. Sometimes I look to him for help, maybe out there in practice and stuff. I think he's a good all-around quarterback."
The Bills defense wore down in the second half and was unable to stop the running game. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer called a conservative offense with Clemens in the game and in the driver's seat with a 16-10 lead.
Regardless of who is at QB, the Jets don't plan on making significant changes in their game plan to finish out the season.
"That's what we plan to do is to try and keep the running game going and make it a little easier for a quarterback to help them out," said Greene. "To do that we have to run hard and try and get as much yardage as we can here and there."
On the day, Greene rushed 11 times for 59 yards. The Jets received contributions from seven different rushers, including veteran fullback Tony Richardson, whose 19-yard run was his longest as a Jet and in fact his longest since 2001 when he was with Kansas City. T-Rich, who rushed for 36 yards on two carries, spent most of the day leading the way for Thomas Jones' sixth 100-yard game of 2009 (23 carries, 109 yards) and his fifth consecutive 1,000-yard season.
"I think with that duo of me and him, we can wear defenses down, especially with our offensive line and T-Rich blocking his behind off," said Greene. "I think it's just a great system all around."
One game into December and on a two-game winning streak to improve their record to 6-6, the Green & White find themselves back in the playoff hunt.
"Four games left," said Clemens. "It's still anybody's game at this point."