Twenty-three first downs, 336 yards, 28 points. That Week 2 stat line is heck of a lot better than the Jets' offensive output in Week 1 against the Baltimore Ravens.
As a result, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer had plenty of reasons to smile when he addressed the media on Thursday afternoon. "Schotty" explained the reasons for his offense's much improved showing, most of which he attributed to its preparation.
"I think a lot of it goes back to the week of practice," Schottenheimer said. "Last week's practice our guys were much more focused. You saw guys excited to get back on the field. Sometimes, as hard as it is to get ready for the short week when you have limited time, it's good for you because you can put the last week's performance behind you. I just thought our guys did a really good job of going out and executing the plan."
While the offense looked much sharper as a result of the practices — including Friday inside the fieldhouse at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center — there will be a major obstacle to hurdle this week as the Jets prepare for the Miami Dolphins. Wide receiver Braylon Edwards, who had five receptions for 45 yards and a touchdown as well as a two-point reception, in the Jets' win over the Patriots, will not be starting, and since the team is still without playmaking wide receiver Santonio Holmes, Schottenheimer will be looking to his other options to bear the load.
"We take it a little bit into consideration," he said. "But you could lose a guy due to injury. We have a number of guys who are smart. Brad [Smith] is really smart, Jerricho [Cotchery], of course, is extremely intelligent. David [Clowney] is back, he's playing multiple spots. Guys are interchangeable and so we can move some guys around if we don't have him and they'll step up and do well."
Cotchery is a seasoned veteran and has been a guiding presence for quarterback Mark Sanchez during the week. Smith is a special teams ace and former quarterback. Clowney was released after final cuts early this month but is now back with the squad. Tight end Dustin Keller is always a valuable weapon, and don't rule out the use of rookie TE Jeff Cumberland. Whatever the cast, Sanchez and the offense will be sure to go in with the philosophy they used in Week 2, not Week 1.
"Execute that play to the best of your ability. Once it's over, move forward and go on to the next play," Schottenheimer said. "And I think you saw Mark do that. In terms of him getting off to a good start, I'm much more comfortable now knowing that if he misses his first couple of passes that he's still going to find his rhythm at some point, whereas last year there were times where I might have to look at the call sheet and say 'I have to get to that to get him a completion.' I don't feel that way right now."
The second-year signalcaller has a whole lot more on his plate in terms of the playbook, his responsibilities and leadership than he did during his rookie campaign. Schottenheimer described the crucial third-and-1 pass to Keller that went for 39 yards. In a game last year, Sanchez underthrew a similar pass for an interception. This season, Schottenheimer has the confidence in his young quarterback to call that play.
Even compared to Sanchez's duties and performance in the playoffs last season, his mental and physical requirements are much grander this season. And heading toward an opponent that has allowed only 20 points through two games, Sanchez is coming off his best performance as a Jet.
"I thought the playoff games were pretty solid," Schottenheimer said. "But we asked him to do much more even than in the Cincinnati playoff game. We asked him to do a lot more in this [Patriots] game than we did back then. So all in all, I think it really was his best game that I've seen him play."