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Edwards needs to make Ryan's prediction look good

Jets wide receiver Braylon Edwards can't make the

Jets wide receiver Braylon Edwards can't make the catch on a deep ball in the first half against Buffalo. (December 3, 2009) Credit: AP

Rex Ryan is getting pretty good at this prediction business, so the Jets' coach figured he'd try another to boost the spirits of his struggling receiver, Braylon Edwards.

"One of these days, Braylon is going to have an explosion and he's going to have a three-touchdown game," Ryan said. "I think it's coming. I think it's right around the corner."

Ryan wouldn't predict just when Edwards will have his breakout game, but you don't have to look very far to connect the dots. With the Jets likely needing to put plenty of points on the board against the Chargers on Sunday, Ryan is pointing to this playoff game.

If it happens, Ryan will look like a genius yet again. He'll have added to his predictions that Darrelle Revis would turn into one of the league's great cornerbacks, and that the Jets would have the top-ranked rushing offense and top-ranked defense.

And if Ryan proves to be Nostradamus again, it might be his greatest call yet. After all, Edwards has dropped several passes in recent weeks, continuing a trend that dogged him during his four-plus years with Cleveland:

He dropped what would have been a 41-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter against the Bengals in Saturday's AFC wild-card game in Cincinnati.

He dropped another would-be TD pass the week before against the Bengals.

And who can forget when the ball hit him in the helmet on a sure TD pass against the Bills in Toronto?

More reminders of a player derisively referred to by fed-up Browns fans as Braylon "Scissorhands," after the movie character Edward Scissorhands.

Of course, there have been tantalizing flashes of brilliance from this immensely talented receiver. The 26-year-old had a terrific first game with the Jets less than a week after being traded on Oct. 28, catching four passes for 74 yards and a TD in a Monday night loss to the Dolphins.

And he was the lone offensive bright spot in an otherwise dismal 10-7 loss to the Falcons. Edwards had five catches for 105 yards, including a 65-yard touchdown. It was his only 100-yard receiving game of the season.

In fairness, it hasn't always been easy working with rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez. And credit Edwards' blocking; it has been excellent.

But given that he was the No. 3 overall pick in the 2005 draft, his overall production has to be considered a disappointment no matter who's throwing him the ball. Consider: Edwards had 45 catches for 680 yards, well below Jerricho Cotchery's totals of 57 for 821, respectively. And Cotchery missed two games.

It is the sure-handed Cotchery who has become the preferred target for Sanchez. He was targeted six times in Saturday's win and caught every one of them. Edwards, on the other hand, dropped a perfectly placed pass in the end zone that hit him in the chest. In the third quarter, he did make a nice catch on a slant route on third-and-6 from the Bengals' 25, advancing it to the 9. Thomas Jones scored on the next play to make it 21-7.

But the Jets need more from Edwards, and they need it now. Against a Chargers team that has scored at least 20 points in every game this season, Edwards needs a big game to help keep their unlikely playoff run going.

He also needs it to show he belongs in the Jets' long-term plans. With his contract set to expire after the playoffs, Edwards hopes to get a big-money contract in the offseason. But how can the Jets be expected to even consider his expectations of a deal in the range of $7 million to $9 million a year when he hasn't consistently performed like an elite receiver?

They can't. That's why it's time for Edwards to reward Ryan's confidence and make his prediction of a breakout game come true.

Edwards needs to own Sunday in San Diego.

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