The Jets' coordinators — Brian Schottenheimer (offense), Mike Pettine (defense) and Mike Westhoff (special teams) — speak with reporters every week. Here are highlights of their news conferences Friday afternoon:
Schottenheimer candidly described his initial reaction to Rex Ryan's plan of increased involvement on that side of the ball.
"Early on, it stung me a little bit because we have a goal everywhere I've been that you want to keep your head coach out of your meetings," Schotty said. "That's the goal. If you keep the head coach out of your meeting, you're doing your job."
But Ryan joined the meetings this week after Sanchez threw a quarter of his 16 interceptions last Sunday in the 31-14 loss to the New England Patriots.
"You have to be willing to throw the ball away," Schottenheimer said, "and going back and talking to Mark about it, he was like, 'Sometimes I probably don't take into consideration the situation of the game.' And that's one thing I think Rex has been really good about this week is trying to get him to understand the situation of the game."
Taking time to break down each of Sanchez's four interceptions at Gillette Stadium, Schottenheimer said the rookie quarterback has made a lot of good decisions over the course of the season but he has to get even better with his decision-making. He stressed smart play over aggressive, instinctive play and had Sanchez working on throwing the ball out of bounds at practice this week.
"Do we need to do a better job of teaching Mark to take care of the football? Absolutely. Is Mark going to do a better job making better decisions? Absolutely," Schotty said. "With Rex getting involved, hopefully that will hit home with Mark."
Even though Sanchez has had three difficult performances — three INTs at New Orleans, five INTs vs. Buffalo and four INTS at New England — the fact is that the rookie has done a lot of good things throughout this first pro campaign and the Jets believe he'll learn the most out on the field.
"He's played well enough in seven games for us to win," said the OC. "It's just the couple of games that we've lost and he's had those multiple turnovers, which you're not going to beat any team by turning the ball over multiple, three, four times. He gets more out of that being on the field going through those situations than sitting on the bench and watching."
While many members of the media have declared the latest shuffling in the secondary a Kerry Rhodes benching, Pettine elects to view the insertion of Eric Smith into the base package a little differently.
"Everybody wants to look at it from a standpoint that it's a benching," Pettine said. "It's semantics how you look at it, but he's down in some of our groupings and up in others. We have high expectations for Kerry — we see Kerry as a Pro Bowl-caliber safety — and it was something of a cumulative effect. And his performance against New England kind of triggered something that 'Hey, we need to do something here.' Also the fact is that Eric had been playing well and we thought he deserved that shot."
In their two post-bye games, the Jets have moved slowly out of the gates. Interestingly, Pettine, in his eighth NFL season, said that practice "rarely correlates with how you play and how your guys come out" and the DC used the Week 7 game at Oakland as an example.
"I did not feel good on that flight going out. We were not sharp at practice and our guys went out there and were dialed in," he said of the 38-0 shutout. "If anyone else can come up with that answer, I'll welcome that and you'd make yourself a lot of money. It's a concern. We're not the type of team that can wait — we're not built that way. We don't have an offense with a veteran quarterback who can put a lot of points up."
Special teams accounted for half of the Jets' points against the Pats and Westhoff will have Justin Miller returning kicks for him against the Panthers. Miller, who re-signed with the Green & White on Oct. 27, has returned five kickoffs for a 23.0-yard average this season.
"Justin should probably be OK. He's looked good in practice," Westhoff said. "He'll probably be our guy. He'll run kicks back."
Westhoff, asked if Miller's explosiveness is less of an issue this week than it was, said, "I've seen him improve each time, so yes I hope so. I think he's practiced well. He's done a pretty good job."