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Sanchez's numbers better, but Jets QB struggling

Sanchez's numbers better, but Jets QB struggling

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) Mark Sanchez remembers bouncing off his offensive lineman's backside, dropping to the turf and wondering what hit him.

The New York Jets quarterback certainly knows now.

He has been, well, the butt of jokes on sports radio shows and blogs all over the internet. Especially since the replay has been shown countless times since he ran into Brandon Moore and fumbled last Thursday night in a 49-19 loss to the New England Patriots.

``I guess (I was) more stunned than anything,'' Sanchez said Wednesday. ``Just like a car accident. I was like, `Whoa. What just happened?' Then, the ball's gone. It was weird.''

It was a broken play in which Sanchez tried to make something happen, but instead made all the blooper reels. And the fumble led to a touchdown in the middle of a 35-point second quarter for the Patriots.

``It's embarrassing,'' Sanchez said. ``You screw up the play and I'm trying to do the right thing. It's not like I'm trying to force something. I start to slide and I slide right in the worst spot I possibly could: right into Brandon Moore.''

Sanchez said his teammates have been cool with him about the play, keeping the razzing to a minimum. After all, in many ways, the play epitomized the season for the Jets (4-7) and their struggling quarterback.

``Hopefully,'' Sanchez said, ``we'll laugh about it later.''

Sanchez's overall statistics have been a bit better the last few weeks than they were earlier in the season. He has completed more than 72 percent of his passes in two straight games and has a 300-yard passing performance. But the numbers don't tell nearly the whole story.

Sanchez is still making crucial mistakes in games, just as he did last week, and the question remains as to whether he'll ever be better than he is now. Four of his 10 interceptions this season have been in the red zone, or within the opponents' 20-yard line. Six of the 10 have come from inside the 35.

``We've made mistakes in the red zone and it hasn't just been Mark Sanchez making a mistake,'' coach Rex Ryan said. ``There's been other mistakes as well. Is it a route? Is it a dropped pass? A protection error? Sometimes a lot gets blamed on the quarterback, but sometimes there are other things involved as well.''

Ryan dodged questions about Sanchez's struggles specifically, pointing to everyone needing to improve - including himself.

``If we could just say, `Stop. Just don't do it,' I think we've said that a bunch,'' Ryan said. ``I don't think that's going to fix it. Clearly, you have to, I think, look more into why the mistakes were made or whatever.''

It's true that the Jets' offensive woes can't be entirely pinned on Sanchez. New York ranks tied for 16th in the NFL with 20 dropped passes. The running game has failed to be consistent for a prolonged stretch this season, and the offensive line has also had its share of troubles protecting the quarterback.

But Sanchez has failed to become the franchise-type player the Jets expected him to be when they drafted him in 2009, the type of quarterback who can take an offense on his shoulders and make everyone around him better. He has 41 turnovers in the last two seasons - 28 interceptions and 13 fumbles lost.

Former NFL MVP Rich Gannon had a one-word description of Sanchez on CBS Sports Network's ``NFL Monday QB'' earlier this week: ``Lost.''

Phil Simms followed that up with his own critical assessment.

``I think that really sums up everything for the New York Jets,'' the former Giants quarterback said. ``I live up here in the New York area, so I read it every single day. Tim Tebow brought in. A different offense. All of the injuries to skill players. Very tough for a quarterback to get firm footing and show what kind of talent he has.''

There have been plenty of excuses made by many people, but to Sanchez's credit, he has never pinned any of his struggles on anyone other than himself - no matter how justified he might be in doing so.

``They can't happen,'' Sanchez said of his mistakes. ``I just have to do a better job of protecting the football.''

He has five games left in the regular season to try to do that, and to firmly establish himself as the future of the franchise and not just a player who peaked in his first two seasons while helping the Jets to consecutive AFC title games.

Ryan and his staff have put together videos of how to limit turnovers, especially since the Jets rank tied for fifth in the NFL with 22.

``We have clips of every single player we have - how to hold it, what the opponent's seeing, everything,'' Ryan said. ``You name it, we're trying to find answers to it, solutions to it.''

All five of the Jets' opponents - Arizona, Jacksonville, Tennessee, San Diego and Buffalo - have records under .500, and Ryan has said the goal is to run the table, go 5-0 and see what happens from there.

``It's important for all of us,'' Sanchez said. ``Being the quarterback of a team, there's always more pressure and attention at that position. I don't treat it as anything else. We just need to win some games here. We've done it in the past and hopefully we'll do it again.''

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NOTES: Ryan faces Arizona's Kerry Rhodes for the first time since he called him ``selfish'' in his book last year after the two clashed at times while the safety played for the Jets. ``That's in the past,'' Ryan said. ``I'm not going to get into it.'' ... Sanchez on fan Ed Anzalone ``retiring'' from being Fireman Ed, partially because of increasing ``confrontations'' at MetLife Stadium stemming from him wearing the quarterback's No. 6 jersey: ``He's been really supportive. Obviously, I appreciate that. He's been around a long time, seen the ups and downs of our team. Obviously, if his safety is in jeopardy here, then maybe it's a good move.''

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These hidden factors could make Brandon Scherff less interested in an extension with the Redskins

These hidden factors could make Brandon Scherff less interested in an extension with the Redskins

In Brandon Scherff, the Redskins have a 27-year-old guard who has delivered on his first-round status, a lineman who has become one of the best in the league at his position and should have many more years of production and defender-mauling left.

Therefore, it's in the Redskins' best interest to extend Scherff this offseason, and the veteran confirmed on Monday there have been talks about getting that done

But during a discussion on the Redskins Talk podcast, J.I. Halsell, a salary cap expert and former agent, laid out something that could force those negotiations to stall.

"There are some things you have to take into consideration because 2020 is the final year of the collective bargaining agreement, so there are some things you have to work around when structuring the deal," Halsell said.

Not only is that deadline approaching, but another one is, too. In 2021 and 2022, the NFL's TV deals with Monday Night Football, FOX, CBS and NBC expire as well.

So, there's a very real possibility the league's salary cap could look much, much different in a few seasons. And that, according to Halsell, may make Scherff much less willing to accept an extension now.

"If you're Brandon Scherff, in 2021, with a new collective bargaining agreement, the salary cap might be $250 million or something crazy like that, with all the new revenue coming into the league," he explained. "And so why would I take a deal today and preclude myself of taking advantage of a very lucrative and larger revenue pie?"

Essentially, it comes down to whether Scherff wants to take a present risk that could pay off down the line (kind of like how Kirk Cousins did a few years back with the Burgundy and Gold). He could probably lock something in over the next few months — Halsell's projection was an agreement for five years, including $45 million guaranteed and a $14.5 million average per year — or step away from talks now and try to cash in later.

Haslell told Redskins Talk he'd probably advise the lineman to take the second route.

"You would say, 'Look, you're a former first-round pick. You've made a decent amount of money in your career thus far,'" he said. "You have the financial wherewithal to not take the bird in hand today that may not be as lucrative as what is out there in 2021. So, bet on yourself and play out the last year of your rookie deal, force them to tag you in 2020 and then see what this new NFL salary cap world looks like in 2021."

Now, who knows truly how much these factors will play into Scherff's back-and-forth with the 'Skins. Nevertheless, you can see why the Pro Bowler's next contract may not be as much of a no-brainer as previously thought.

"If the kid is willing to bet on himself," Haslell said, "then it could be very lucrative on the back end."

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Seven reasons you need to root for the Blues in the Stanley Cup Final

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Seven reasons you need to root for the Blues in the Stanley Cup Final

The St. Louis Blues defeated the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night to advance to the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Final. The champions of the Western Conference will take on the Boston Bruins, the champions of the Eastern Conference, having swept the Carolina Hurricanes in four games.

With the St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins squaring off in a rematch of the 1970 Stanley Cup Final, we've dug up the seven reasons why Capitals fans, and -- well -- all NHL fans should be rooting for the Blues to hoist Lord Stanley's Cup.

1: The Blues are like the Capitals of the West

A lot of fans think that the San Jose Sharks hold that title, but the Blues present an even stronger case.

The Blues Stanley Cup drought is currently at 51 seasons. And although they made the Stanley Cup Final three consecutive seasons from 1968-1970, they have yet to win a game in the Stanley Cup Final.

That should sound familiar to Caps fans. Before they won it all in 2018, Washington's Cup drought was 42 years, and when they made the Cup Final in 1998 they were swept by the dominant Detroit Red Wings.

The similarities don't stop there. Each team has a Russian sniper, a crop of promising rookies on offense and defense, and acquired depth pieces in free agency to build a consistent contender.

In the Blues case before this season, they couldn't make it past the Conference Finals, similar to how the Caps couldn't make it out of the second round.

Call it coincidence or fate, but the Blues are looking eerily similar to the Caps that won the Stanley Cup last year.

2: No More Boston Championships

The New England Patriots just won the Super Bowl. The Red Sox just won another World Series. The city of Boston has celebrated six major professional championships since 2010 and 12 since 2000, with each parade more frustrating to watch than the last.

Does Boston really need another championship after a drought since February?

3: Brad Marchand is the worst

A lot of people will complain about Tom Wilson's play. But Brad Marchand is the king of the subtle and overtly dirty play, especially in the playoffs where the rules relax.

In last year's playoffs, Marchand was told by the league to stop licking players after he brushed his tongue across Leo Komarov's face.

This postseason, he's punched players in the back of the head after a play's been blown dead.

He also baited Justin Williams into penalty minutes when he high-sticked him across the face. No penalty was given to Marchand on the play.

Marchand's put up 18 points through three rounds in addition to his antics.

4: TJ Oshie's old stomping grounds

The Caps acquired Oshie from the Blues in 2015 in exchange for Troy Brouwer, Pheonix Copley and Washington's third-round pick in 2016, and he's now a mainstay in the Caps top six. 

Oshie played over 400 games for the Blues, recording over 300 points for the organization that drafted him. Not only did he put up stellar numbers, but he was an alternate captain for the Blues and was beloved by fans in the area.

Who better to root for than for Oshbabe's old team?

5: Vladimir Tarasenko is tearing it up

If you've got Alex Ovechkin's endorsement as a game-changer, that's a good place to start.

Ovechkin took note of Tarasenko's skill in a 2014 game the Blues played against the Rangers and told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch "He just make great jump in his career and he’s carrying the team right now.”

In these playoffs, the Russian sniper has eight goals and five assists, including points in every game of the Western Conference Finals against the San Jose Sharks.


6: Pam and Jim are facing off in an Office matchup

Actor John Krasinski, who played Jim Halpert in The Office,  is a Bruins fan. 

Jenna Fischer, who played Pam Beesly, Jim's love interest, is a Blues fan.

We have a house divided.

We tend to lean to Team Pam because if you take a closer look, Jim was a pretty awful colleague and despite his charm and boyish looks, he was kinda a bad person.

7: Washington helped St. Louis ascend the standings

On Jan. 2 the Blues were last in the league and posted a 15-18-4 record with 34 points.

But their fortunes started to turn on Jan. 3, when they faced the Caps at Enterprise Center in St. Louis. They beat the Caps 5-2, and turned their season around from that game going forward, including an 11 game winning streak.

So really, St. Louis has Washington to thank for transforming their season from one marred by losses to one where they made the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1970.

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