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Somehow, optimism remains for Jets

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Somehow, optimism remains for Jets

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) The numbers and their recent level of performance indicate the New York Jets are done for 2012.

Their comments say otherwise.

Somehow, in the wake of two awful outings in losses to Miami and Seattle, the Jets talk about remaining confident, about turning things around, about eliminating the mistakes that are killing their chances.

Indeed, after coach Rex Ryan again emphasized that Mark Sanchez is the starting quarterback despite his sinking play, Sanchez mentioned Monday how ``once things go right, they turn around so fast it will make your head spin.''

Others might call that spin. The Jets (3-6) describe it as staying optimistic.

``I'm confident in who I am and my abilities, and I've said it a million times, I'm confident in the guys who coach with me and play for me,'' Ryan said after the Jets dropped the ninth game in their last 12, including the 2011 collapse in which they lost their final three games to miss the playoffs for the first time in his tenure.

``I know we have the talent, not just as players but in our coaching staff. We're going to get this thing done.''

Getting anything done, beginning next Sunday in St. Louis, must start with cleaning up their on-field act. Although they are in the middle of the pack with a minus-2 turnover differential, the Jets are destroying themselves in the red zone. In Sunday's 28-7 loss at Seattle, Sanchez pretty much threw away at least six points and perhaps more with bad decisions.

Richard Sherman's interception on third-and-goal despite Sanchez having plenty of time to survey the field was costly. So was a fumble on a sack.

``Two plays really stood out,'' said Sanchez, who turned 26 Sunday, but had nothing much to celebrate. ``The sack-fumble and the interception, especially as well as our defense was playing in the game early. We had a chance to take the lead and I have got to make better decisions. Careless mistakes. Totally on me.''

The loss was not totally on Sanchez, although he was a mere 9 for 22 for 124 yards, and the Jets' only TD came on defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson's fumble return. The slump has been a team effort, prompting questions about whether the Jets have enough talent to compete. For the last month, the answer would be no.

Compound that with all kinds of gaffes - missed blocks, poor tackling, penalties, wrong routes run by receivers, blocked kicks - and the Jets have the look of an also-ran heading for a losing record under Ryan for the first time since he arrived in 2009.

``Week after week, we continue to punish ourselves,'' safety Yeremiah Bell said. ``Self-inflicted wounds, time after time. That's something that as players we have to get corrected.

``We're going out there, being competitive, we're playing hard. But in this league you can't help teams win.''

All the losing has ramped up calls for Tim Tebow to get more action at quarterback - he was in for 11 plays, although three wound up as penalties, in the 28-7 loss. It's also brought into question the play calling by new coordinator Tony Sparano; whether Shonn Greene is a No. 1 running back; if any of the receivers are capable of consistently getting separation; and whether the defense can avoid yielding big plays.

There doesn't seem to be a groundswell seeking Ryan's job, and it's not something that enters his mind anyway.

``With me, I will never waver,'' he said. ``I am not going to make a decision to save my job. I am in it to win games.

``I'm not sitting back concentrating on how do I save my job. I am concentrating on how do we win.''

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10 Training Camp Questions: How dangerous is the Brandon Scherff contract situation?

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USA Today Sports

10 Training Camp Questions: How dangerous is the Brandon Scherff contract situation?

The Redskins report to training camp on July 24th, and for the next 10 days, JP Finlay will count down the 10 biggest questions the Redskins face going into the 2019 season.

10) Will the Redskins develop depth on the D-line?

9) Can the Redskins count on Montae Nicholson?

8) Want better offense? Get more out of the tight ends 

7) Will Jimmy Moreland actually win the slot CB job from Fabian Moreau?

6) After losing Reuben Foster, how's the Redskins LB situation?

5) Will potential match production for Redskins WRs?

When a team picks in the Top 10 of the NFL Draft, folks around the NFL expect that player to become a Pro Bowler. For Washington, that exact scenario unfolded with right guard Brandon Scherff. 

Mostly. 

Selected fifth overall in 2015, the Redskins took Scherff to play right tackle and anchor the offensive line opposite Trent Williams. That idea quickly faded, helped by the emergence of Morgan Moses, and Scherff moved inside to play guard. For four years, it's worked out great, with Pro Bowl selections in 2016 and 2017. 

Scherff is a mauler in the best sense of the word. He has great footwork and Redskins head coach Jay Gruden has called the former Iowa Hawkeye the best pulling guard in the NFL. Scherff is strong and nasty, words that won't win beauty pageants but absolutely win in the trenches of the NFL. 

Considering all of that, a contract extension for Scherff should be easy. Right?

Wrong. 

Currently in the final year of his rookie deal, multiple reports stretching over the last six weeks indicate that the organization is way off in their extension offers to Scherff. He might not command the biggest contract in the league, but he will get paid like a top three guard. In 2019, that means a lot of money.

Cowboys guard Zach Martin makes $14 million a year. Jaguars guard Andrew Norwell makes $13.3 million a year. Scherff might not get to Martin's salary, but he will probably get to Norwell, whether Washington pays it or not.

That means the Redskins need to pony up the cash now because as each day passes, the team is approaching an ugly set of options. Scherff and his representatives might continue to negotiate during the season, but it doesn't make a lot of sense. Once free agency becomes in view, players tend to wait for it. Just ask Kirk Cousins. 

In fact, the situation between Scherff and the Redskins has some resemblance to the Cousins saga from a few years ago. 

In that case, Washington low-balled their homegrown quarterback in their first set of negotiations. From there, things went sideways, and the team used consecutive franchise tags on Cousins before he finally left via free agency. 

If the Redskins can't get a deal done with Scherff, the team could use a franchise tag in 2020. But that's a dangerous game of roulette. 

The time to get a deal done with Scherff is now, if not last month. Redskins team president has said in the past that deadlines drive deals, but with Scherff, there is no exact deadline. He can decide to stop working on a contract extension at any moment, particularly once the pads come on at training camp. 

The Trent Williams holdout might be complicating things a bit, if Williams only wants more cash and the issue isn't about much more than that. The truth is a Scherff extension would actually free up cap space in the short term, as his signing bonus would be spread out over the life of the contract, and some of that salary cap relief could go to Williams right away. 

Williams' status isn't the hold up between Scherff and the Redskins. Whatever is the actual holdup best be resolved soon. or the Redskins are beginning down an all too familiar franchise path.

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Sánchez and Adams lead Nationals in crucial win over Braves

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USA Today

Sánchez and Adams lead Nationals in crucial win over Braves

ATLANTA—Anibal Sanchez outpitched Mike Soroka and scored the go-ahead run in the fifth inning, Matt Adams homered and the Washington Nationals beat the Atlanta Braves 5-3 on Saturday night.

Second-place Washington pulled within 5 games of the NL East-leading Braves, improving to 33-14 since May 24, best in the majors over that span. Atlanta has dropped four of five.

Sanchez (6-6) got a big assist in the bottom of the fifth when shortstop Trea Turner turned a bases-loaded double play, leaping to nab Nick Markakis' liner and throwing to first to beat Josh Donaldson back to the bag.

Soroka (10-2) allowed four runs and nine hits in six innings. He had won 10 straight decisions, best by an Atlanta pitcher since Hall of Famer Greg Maddux had a 10-decision streak in 2001.

Sean Doolittle got the last five outs, facing the minimum, for his 21st save in 25 chances. He struck out Ronald Acuna Jr. with a runner at second to end the eighth and breezed through the ninth.

Washington went up 4-1 in the fifth when Sanchez reached on an infield single to third, took second on Donaldson's throwing error and scored on Turner's double. Turner took third on Adam Eaton's single and scored on Anthony Rendon's single. Eaton scored on Juan Soto's single.

The Nationals took a 5-3 lead in the eighth off A.J. Minter as Turner singled, stole second and scored on Eaton's single.

Adams went deep for the 15th time, an opposite-field homer that bounced off the top of the wall in left-center and into the stands to tie it at 1-all in the fourth.

Sanchez, who pitched for the Braves last year and helped them win the division, allowed three runs and six hits and has a 2.70 ERA in his last nine starts.

Atlanta led 1-0 in the first when Acuna reached on an infield single, stole second base, advanced on a flyout and scored on Freddie Freeman's single.

Brian McCann's ninth homer, a two-run shot in the sixth, chased Sanchez and cut the lead to 4-3.

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NBC Sports Washington's Michael Stearman contributed to this Associated Press story.