Austin Howard Might Be the Most Important Player on the Field Against Jacksonville Jaguars

Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

There were a lot of reasons the Jets got blown out in Philadelphia last year against the Eagles. One was the manner in which Jason Babin manhandled Wayne Hunter. Babin had three sacks and another hit on Mark Sanchez. That game was truly a case of Wayne Hunter being Wayne Hunter.

The Jacksonville pass rush has been anemic this season. Their pass defense has suffered as a result, ranking 29th in the league. That led the Jaguars, desperate to bolster said pass rush, to claim Babin. They plugged him right into the lineup, giving him 41 snaps against the Bills. He is going to see significant time this week.

Mark Sanchez has become a quarterback who melts when he gets hit. When another team gets heat early, Sanchez does not recover. Pro Football Focus notes he completes under 40% of his passes when pressured. That is the worst in the league. His rating is 38.7. When not pressured, he completes 59.9% and posts a passer rating of 81.6. Those numbers are also among the worst in the league. Those are below the level good quarterbacks hit even when you combine passes with no pressure AND passes with pressure. It at least provides a functional level of offense if he can be kept clean the entire game, however.

The Jets have a chance to keep Sanchez clean. Jacksonville does not have much of a pass rush or a great secondary. This sets up as having potential for a good game from Sanchez. It would have set up as having potential for a good game from Greg McElroy. Babin might be the wild card in this. He is Jacksonville's best shot at pressure. If Austin Howard handles him, it could be a nice offensive day for the Jets.

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