Earlier this week, Alan Levin from JetsFan.com and I exchanged some questions and answers about our respective teams in regards to the big game Monday night. You can read my responses to his questions by clicking here. Continue reading to get his insight on the Jets.
Musket Fire: Mark Sanchez has really started to come into his own as an NFL QB. What improvements has he made since the Patriots and the Jets met in Week 2?
Alan Levin: His pocket presence and movement skills have been the most noticeable improvements. He senses the rush much better now and is doing a great job of avoiding pressure and extending plays.
MF: How does the loss of Jim Leonhard affect the Jet defense and special teams?
AL: It will be a huge void. Leonhard was the captain of the secondary and made all the calls. He knows Rex Ryan’s defense better than anybody and got people lined up correctly. He is always around the ball too so the Jets will miss his opportunistic play. Leonhard is very instinctive and diagnoses plays quickly so he was always in position as the last line of defense against the pass and run. Without him, the Jets’ defense will not have that same stability. On special teams his loss won’t be as dramatic. He was a very sure-handed punt returner but did not bring a lot of big play ability. Jerricho Cotchery will likely take most of those reps and he is the same kind of safe returner who will field the ball cleanly but won’t break off many big plays.
MF: The Jets have had quite a few come-from-behind victories. How have they been able to come back and pull off late wins?
AL: It’s really been the play of Mark Sanchez and Santonio Holmes. Sanchez has led some critical drives in the two minute offense and has been very accurate on some tough throws. Holmes and he have really improved their chemistry. The quick slant has generated some big plays for them, particularly in the Detroit and Cleveland games.
MF: What impact has LaDanian Tomlinson had on the team, both offensively and from a leadership standpoint?
AL: He has had a big impact on both fronts. Offensively he has shown that he still has some burst in those legs. He can do it all – he runs between the tackles, has the speed to turn the corner, picks up the blitz extremely well and can make plays out of the backfield. I have been most surprised by his change of direction and elusiveness. He has put some moves on guys that left them grasping at air. I did not realize he still had that shiftiness. I love his competitiveness too. He really fights for the first down marker and the end zone and will not be denied. He has been a tremendous leader and shown younger guys like Shonn Greene how to really work hard in their preparation. He also plays with a lot of emotion on the field and will get his guys pumped up after he makes a big play.
MF: Which do you think has had a more positive impact on the Jets: Rex Ryan’s big, outgoing personality, or his schemes?
AL: That’s a great question. I would have to say his schemes. They are so well conceived and create problems for so many opponents. The complexity of his defense has made it hard for teams to attack them and that has instilled a lot of confidence in the unit. More than Ryan’s outgoing personality, I would say his confidence in his players is what has had such a huge impact. He never wavers in his support for his guys and in return, they will run through a brick wall for him.