1:00 PM ET, November 18, 2012
Edward Jones Dome, Saint Louis, MO
There's a strong possibility many NFL teams will be starting backup quarterbacks in Week 11 for one reason or another, though the New York Jets won't be one of them.
Coach Rex Ryan's task of helping the slumping Jets remain positive is becoming increasingly difficult as they prepare for their road matchup with the St. Louis Rams on Sunday.
New York (3-6) is on the verge of losing four consecutive games for the first time since dropping six straight in 2007, and much of the blame has fallen on the right arm of the struggling Sanchez.
He finished 9 of 22 for 124 yards and an interception while losing a fumble for the third straight week in last Sunday's 28-7 loss at Seattle. Sanchez, who has completed an NFL-worst 52.0 percent of his passes, isn't making excuses for his spotty play.
"I have got to make better decisions," said Sanchez, whose 70.9 passer rating ranks 30th. "Careless mistakes. Totally on me."
Sanchez has received plenty of criticism, but Ryan has decided to stick with him as the starter despite some calls for Tebow to take over and questions of Ryan's own job security.
"With me, I will never waver," Ryan 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."
Ryan's decision regarding the quarterback situation seems to be backed in the locker room, but how he's heard of that support doesn't exactly make him happy.
According to a report Wednesday, multiple players and members of the organization spoke anonymously in support of Sanchez while bashing Tebow, with one player allegedly calling Tebow "terrible."
It's yet another drama-filled controversy surrounding the Jets that Ryan believes is unacceptable.
"If you're not going to put your name to it, I think that's about as cowardly of a thing there is," Ryan said. "I don't want to get into specifics of what I said, but I did address it with our football team. If you're searching for things to try to drive a wedge through the team, my thing is, I believe in this team.
"I believe this team is (together), will continue to be and maybe even become tighter. I'm confident that will be the case."
Tebow, in his typical fashion, brushed off the alleged comments and pledged to do whatever is necessary to help the team.
"I always find the good and the positive in every situation," Tebow said. "The positive of this is to go and work a little harder and build better relationships with your teammates."
Sanchez had similar thoughts.
"I've been in those shoes," Sanchez said. "I feel for Tim. You wake up the next day and you keep playing."
Combined with the internal issues, New York must now contend with a Rams team that played NFC West-leading San Francisco to a 24-all tie last Sunday on the road.
St. Louis (3-5-1) went winless through a three-game stretch facing Green Bay, New England and the 49ers and was on the verge of a victory last week before blowing a 10-point second-half lead.
"Shoot, you know, we can be proud of the way we gave the effort, and like I said we went toe-to-toe with a team we have great respect for," defensive end Chris Long said.
Sam Bradford had another strong game, finishing 26 of 39 for 275 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He completed a long pass to Danny Amendola in overtime that would have set up the potential winning touchdown, but it was called back due to a penalty.
Amendola finished with 11 catches for 102 yards after missing the last three games with a shoulder injury.
"I think our offense as a whole has really made a lot of strides in the past couple weeks," said Bradford, who has completed 66.9 percent of his passes over the last four games. "I think last week was evidence of what we're capable of when we don't shoot ourselves in the foot. We still made mistakes but for the most part I think that was our most complete game as an offense. We put up a lot of yards and a fair amount of points against a really good defense."
He'll face a Jets team that is sixth in the NFL against the pass allowing 203.8 yards per game but also ranks 30th giving up an average of 145.0 rushing yards.
New York allowed 174 yards rushing last week, and that's good news for Rams running back Steven Jackson, who finished with season highs of 29 carries and 101 yards with a touchdown against the 49ers.
These teams have never met during Ryan's tenure, and the Jets' 47-3 rout in the most recent matchup Nov. 9, 2008, ended a seven-game losing streak in the series.
Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer will be facing his former team for the first time. He spent the last six seasons with the Jets before a mutual parting of ways following the 2011 campaign, and he's downplaying the reunion.
"I enjoyed my time in New York," he said. "I had great experiences, won a lot of football games. I'm looking forward to seeing those guys."
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• Get to the quarterback: The Rams have an excellent, young defensive line and should be able to pressure Jets QB Mark Sanchez without a steady dose of blitzes. Plus, St. Louis' pass defense is not as effective when it brings added pressure. Sanchez has struggled equally no matter the number of pass-rushers coming his way. However, before notching five sacks last week, the Rams' defensive line was struggling a bit.
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|Avg Points Allowed||24.1||23.7|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||NYJ|
|Rush Yds Allowed||NYJ|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Series tied 2-2|
|Nov 9, 2008||NYJ 47, STL 3|
|Jan 2, 2005||NYJ 29, @STL 32|
|Oct 21, 2001||NYJ 14, STL 34|
Tim Tebow has been on field for a total of 65 offensive snaps this season but has yet to play more than three consecutive snaps in a game. Tebow has played back-to-back snaps six times this season.
Mark Sanchez has faced five or more rushers on 39.2 percent of his dropbacks this season, the highest rate in the NFL. The strategy has worked for opponents, generating four interceptions and holding Sanchez to a league-worst 48.7 completion percentage.[+]
Mark Sanchez Facing 5+ Pass Rushers - This Season
ESPN Stats & Information