Rams vs. Jets: Seven things to watch

2012-11-18T10:55:00Z 2013-05-22T15:46:31Z Rams vs. Jets: Seven things to watchBy Jim Thomas jthomas@post-dispatch.com 314-340-8197 stltoday.com

Here are seven things to watch as the Rams play the New York Jets at the Edward Jones Dome at noon Sunday (KMOV Channel 4):


The defense is merely middle of the pack. The running game’s not what it used to be. And the WR corps is depleted. As his supporting cast has eroded, so has the play of Jets QB Mark Sanchez. In five of his nine games, Sanchez has completed less than 50 percent of his passes. He has fumbled eight times, and four of his nine interceptions have come in the red zone. Which is a far cry from the lofty days of being only the fifth QB in the Super Bowl era to win 30 or more games in his first three seasons (‘09-11).


The Rams haven’t been much of a blitzing defense this season but that could change this week because — well — everybody blitzes the Jets. Statistically speaking, Sanchez is the most blitzed quarterback in the league and the Jets have struggled with blitz pickup — especially slot blitzes. Cortland Finnegan, that’s your cue. Twice in Seattle last week, a blitzer came in free. Sanchez has done his best work against teams (Bills, Colts, Patriots) that don’t blitz much and play a lot of “off” coverage.


The Jets’ passing game isn’t the same since losing their best offensive player, WR Santonio Holmes, to a season-ending lis franc (foot) injury four games into the season. Sanchez’s best remaining option is TE Dustin Keller, who’s coming off his worst game of the season (2 false starts, 1 dropped pass) against Seattle. But Keller can get open, and tortured the Rams for 107 yards and a TD when the teams last met in 2008. At WR, Jeremy Kerley is small, quick, and physical and averages 15.3 yards per catch.


With the Jets’ best defensive player, CB Darrelle Revis, out for the year with a knee injury, Antonio Cromartie usually gets assigned the opposing team’s top wideout. Cromartie has great closing speed and is playing at a Pro Bowl level. His 25 interceptions since 2007 ranks second in the NFL to Baltimore’s Ed Reed (33). But Cromartie (6-2, 210) struggles against smaller, quicker receivers, so having him shadow Danny Amendola probably isn’t the way to go, particularly when Amendola’s in the slot.


Here’s all you need to know about the Jets’ pass rush: Their sack leader from a year ago, LB Aaron Maybin, was waived Tuesday. He had zero sacks this season. Although they did have four sacks last week in Seattle, the Jets have only 16 all season — tied for seventh-worst in the NFL. Their sack leader this year, LB Bryan Thomas, has only 2½. As a result, the Jets have had to manufacture a rush through blitzing, overloads, stunts, and multiple looks. “They give you a lot to prepare for,” Rams C Rob Turner said.


Last week, Johnny Hekker became the first NFL punter since 2004 to complete two passes in a game. But when it comes to fake punts, Hekker has nothing on Tim Tebow of the Jets. Serving as an up-back on the punt team, Tebow has run for two first downs and thrown for another out of punt formation. However, Hekker’s the better thrower overall — 3 for 3, for 42 yards and a TD when you include his toss to Amendola on a fake field goal. Counting plays from scrimmage, Tebow is 5-for-6 for 40 yards.


It’s been a while. The last time the Jets traveled to St. Louis, a playoff berth was at stake for both clubs. Needing a win, plus help, to earn a wild-card berth as an 8-8 team, the Rams closed the 2004 regular season with a 31-yard field goal from Jeff Wilkins in overtime to win 32-29. As the clubs headed into OT, the Jets learned they had qualified as a wild-card team by virtue of a Pittsburgh victory over Buffalo. That was Steven Jackson’s rookie season, and the Rams haven’t reached the playoffs since.

Follow Jim Thomas on twitter @jthom1

Copyright 2015 stltoday.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Arizona's Mathieu: 'By no means did (Rams) do anything special'

Arizona's Mathieu: 'By no means did (Rams) do anything special'

The Honey Badger was the Salty Badger after the Rams beat the Cardinals.

7 hours agoLoading…
Game blog: Rams defense keys 24-22 win at Arizona

Game blog: Rams defense keys 24-22 win at Arizona

(Updated) Special teams and running game also play vital roles in scintillating upset victory over one of NFL's hottest teams — the previously…

October 04, 2015 8:00 pm Related Loading…

Rams trade WR Givens to Baltimore

Return of Quick made former 4th-round pick odd man out in WR rotation

October 03, 2015 11:00 amLoading…

Get weekly ads via e-mail