Jets' third-down conversions story of their loss

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Jets' third-down conversions story of their loss

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com Celtics Insider
Follow @sherrodbcsn

FOXBORO New York Jets coach and resident loud mouth Rex Ryan is not all that different than most NFL coaches.

When the game is over and he's back in the locker room with his team, he takes a good look at the game's final statistics. Sometimes coaches will sense during the game that a certain part of their team's play was really bad, only to find the statistics tell a different story.

Ryan was not so fortunate.

During the game, he knew his team wasn't doing well on third downs and the final tally proved him correct. For all that didn't go the Jets way in New England's 30-21 win, New York's woeful play on third downs really stood out.

"You gotta convert on third down," a clearly dejected Ryan said afterward. "They Patriots were 50 percent on third downs."

His Jets?

A pitiful 3-for-11, or 27 percent.

"We have to convert on third downs," he said.

Making matters worse for the Jets was that many of the third-downs they faced were short-yardage situations.

In the first half, New York failed to convert on four of their five third-down situations. Of those four failed opportunities, three of them required New York picking up two yards or less.

Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez wasn't surprised that third-down play was such an important part of Sunday's game.

"I knew we were going to need some big plays on third down, and that's where we lost the game," he said. "What were we, 3-for-10? You can't win like that; not against these guys. You gotta keep them off the field and make it easier on your defense."

New York's struggles on third down Sunday were indicative of how what they have been doing on third downs all season, having come into Sunday's game converting just 33 percent of their third-down attempts which ranked No. 23 (out of 32 teams).

And while there were plenty of reasons and places for the Jets to place the blame for Sunday's loss - their third in a row, mind you - without question the inability to convert third-downs sticks out.

"That's the only stat I judge from this game," said Sanchez.

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn.

Belichick impressed by rookie Thuney's work at left guard

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Belichick impressed by rookie Thuney's work at left guard

FOXBORO -- Joe Thuney may not have won the starting left guard job officially, but Bill Belichick says he's on the right track. And for a rookie, that's feat in and of itself.

The third-round pick out of North Carolina State -- you may remember it as the Kevin-Faulk-in-the-No.-12-jersey selection -- has been the first-team left guard since the start of training camp, and he hasn't moved since. Thuney has occasionally taken snaps at center, and the Patriots have him learning multiple spots behind the scenes. But every time Nate Solder has run on to the field as the left tackle, Thuney has been there by his side at guard. 

Even going back to OTAs, held not long after he was drafted, Thuney was the top choice at that position. 

"Joe has done a good job with what we’ve given him," Belichick said. "There was a point where we felt comfortable making that, I’d say temporary move, It wasn’t permanent. But he has handled it well. I think he’s certainly moving towards being able to lock something down at some point. I don’t think we’re there yet, but I think he is certainly gaining on it. He has had a good preseason, had a good spring."

What once may have been deemed a temporary move back in the spring -- perhaps due to players like Shaq Mason, Tre' Jackson and Josh Kline dealing with injuries early in the offseason -- now seems like it should be a permanent one.

Thuney's run as the No. 1 left guard has been uninterrupted because his performance hasn't warranted a change. He's held his own against former first-round defensive tackle Malcom Brown in one-on-one practice drills, and he's been the highest-graded player on the Patriots offensive line through two preseason games, per Pro Football Focus. (The only players with higher grades on the team through two games are tight end AJ Derby and defensive end Trey Flowers.)

The man who went viral before the draft for his ability to solve a Rubik's cube in just over a minute has flashed an understanding of how quickly things move on the inside. Plus, playing under unretired offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, Thuney has been quick himself, both picking up pressures and working to the second level in the running game with aplomb.

Thuney will still have a preseason game or two to solidify his grasp on a starting role, but even for the brief period during which Mason and Kline were simultaneously healthy, Thuney was the choice on the left side of the interior offensive line. Now that Mason is dealing with what's been reported as a hand injury, Jackson remains on PUP, and Jonathan Cooper is still out after suffering a foot injury early in camp, the job seems like Thuney's to lose.

That Belichick even hinted Thuney is "gaining on it" is an indication of just how impressive he's been during his short time as a pro.