NEW YORK -- Outlined against a slate gray sky my plane landed in Gotham (Grantland Rice started flowing through my fingers) and I was reminded that a game in the Meadowlands lurks for Jets rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez.
If you are a daily reader of this blog, you might vaguely remember that on Oct. 18, during Miami's bye weekend, I blogged about Sanchez before he began a nightmare performance against Buffalo. If you remember or check out the archives, you'll know I predicted Sanchez would have a horrible game because the winds were swirling at the Meadowlands and I have been told by three NFL personnel people that Sanchez simply won't be that good, in the short-term anyway, in those type of conditions.
The personnel folks told me being a Southern California kid who hasn't really experienced either cold weather or swirling wind conditions, it will take Sanchez a while to figure out how to handle the Meadowlands because the winds are so unpredictable.
Well, Sanchez that day threw five interceptions and had a defining outing in that the offense has since been taken out of his hands and put in the hands of the New York running backs. Anyway, Sundays game against the Dolphins is the first for Sanchez in the Jets back in the Meadowlands since that disaster game on Oct. 18.
Not surprisingly, the issue of weather and swirling winds came up this week, in part because I brought it up, and offensive coordinator Dan Henning seems to agree with my NFL sources, at least in part, about Sanchez and the Meadowlands.
"Yes, I think Sanchez might have some problems," Henning said only half-kiddingly this week.
If the winds are biting, absolutely. Remember, it's not necessarily about cold temperatures, although that can also be a factor. The weather Sunday is expected to be in the 50s so that really isn't frigid. But the winds, the winds are the big factor.
“It’s important to get a good grip on the ball and practice in those elements, but it’s one of those things where it’s football, you just have to play," Sanchez said. "Trust your instincts, body guys up in the rain, you have to make sure they’re not jumping and tipping balls up in the air and it slips through their hands, and you just have to be even more accurate and more conscious about the football and ball security.
"We will for sure go through that playing here in the Meadowlands, and we just need to be ready to play in it.”
I contend that if the winds are kicking on Sunday, it is the Dolphins, quarterbacked by Chad Henne, that will have an advantage getting the ball out and to their intended targets. Henne has a better arm than Sanchez and has more experience playing in difficult climates than Sanchez. Henne played at Michigan while Sanchez played at USC.
“I think sits going to be difficult for all of us to adjust to the climate," Henne said. "Obviously we’re down here in warm whether all the time, we haven’t played in a cold weather game yet, so we’re going to have to adjust to the climate, adjust to the winds.
"I’m kind of accustomed to that with college being in the north and adjusting to the cold weather and the wind. I don’t think that should be a factor to me, and hopefully we can just adjust to it.”
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