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Rex Ryan tries to salvage Sanchez’s season

Mark Sanchez

New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez walks past spectators taking pictures prior to a NFL football game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. Monday, Dec. 6, 2010. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)


With Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez teetering on the brink of the second late-season slump of his two-year career, coach Rex Ryan has decided to take matters into his own hands.

As Bob Glauber of Newsday explains it, Ryan will meet weekly with Sanchez in the hopes of ensuring that he’ll play well down the stretch. “This isn’t a huge thing,” Ryan said, trying to downplay the move. “It’s a lunch date so I can eat Mexican food with him.”

There’s also a specific strategic reason for Ryan to work with Sanchez -- the next two opponents feature 3-4 defenses run by men with whom Ryan is familiar.

“I know those guys well,” Ryan said the defensive coordinators of the Dolphins and the Steelers. “I’ve worked under Mike Nolan for a few years, and I’ve gone up against Dick LeBeau forever. I think I can maybe help [Sanchez] these two weeks.”

Though Sanchez has generally improved over his rookie year, Glauber points out that Sanchez has thrown 11 interceptions in seven games after throwing zero in the first five.

In our view, the Jets need to tread lightly. Paralyzed by fear of making a mistake in Week One against the Ravens, Sanchez focused on his safest option on virtually every play and never got the ball down the field. He now needs to be coaxed to improve without being scared into a shell.

Whether Ryan can pull it off will go a long way toward determining whether the Jets can at least match last year’s appearance in the AFC title game.