First a few updates:
1. Follow Turn On The Jets on Facebook, Twitter (TurnOnTheJets), and YouTube.
2. I have already resigned to talking myself into Joe Johnson and Amare Stoudemaire, if the Knicks can even land the two of them. If LeBron truly only cares about winning, he is going to the Bulls and taking Chris Bosh with him. A starting five of LeBron, Bosh, Deng, Noah, and Rose is winning 65-70 games in the Eastern Conference next season, maybe more.
Jets Area Of Concern – Quarterback
Contrary to the belief of some fans, the Jets roster isn’t perfect. Like any team in the NFL, they have multiple areas of concern throughout their roster heading into the 2010 season. Today is second look at one of these areas, the quarterback position:
Here are the links the previous articles in the “Area of Concern” and Area of Strength” Series:
Out of the Jets eleven starters on offense, there are only three question marks or potential areas of concern in my mind: running back, quarterback, and left guard. Obviously, the quarterback is the most important position on the field so the Jets biggest concern heading into this season is Mark Sanchez.
The great off-season Braylon Edwards is having. The addition of Santonio Holmes. The potential of Jerricho Cotchery in the slot. The continued growth of Dustin Keller. The addition of LaDainian Tomlinson. Drafting Joe McKnight. The Jets stacked offensive line. It could all go to waste on offense if Mark Sanchez isn’t up to the task in 2010. Because in football if your quarterback isn’t playing well, your offense isn’t playing well.
Let’s look back through Sanchez’s rookie season briefly. In the regular season, Sanchez was either very good (for a rookie), awful, or a successful game manager in near perfect balance.
- Week 1 – 18/31. 272 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
- Week 2 – 14/22, 163 yards, 1 TD
- Week 3 – 17/30, 171 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, 1 rushing TD
- Week 5 – 12/24, 172, 1 TD
- Week 8 – 20/35, 265 yards, 2 TDs, 1 rushing TD
- Week 4 – 14/27, 138 yards, 3 INTs
- Week 6 – 10/29, 119 yards, 5 INTs
- Week 10 – 16/30, 212 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs
- Week 11 – 8/21, 136 yards, 1 TD, 4 INTs
- Week 15 – 18/32, 226 yards, 1 TD, 3 INTs
Successful Game Manager
- Week 7 – 9/16, 143 yards, 1 TD, 1 rushing TD
- Week 12 – 13/17, 154 yards, 1 INT
- Week 13 – 7/15, 104 yards, 1 TD
- Week 16- 12/19, 106 yards
- Week 17 – 8/16, 63 yards
If the Jets are going to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender, they need Sanchez to be somewhere in-between the game manager and very good level. Nobody is saying the guy has to be a Pro-Bowl quarterback for the Jets to win 12 games, but if he could protect the football and hit big plays down the field when the opportunity presents itself the Jets are going to be very difficult to stop. If he can duplicate his performance from games like week 8 against Miami, then Jets are going to have one of the NFL’s best offenses to match the NFL’s best defense.
The most encouraging thing moving forward into the 2010 season is how Sanchez stepped up his play when it mattered the most last season, in the playoffs. Everybody was picking the Jets to lose to Cincinnati in the first round because there was no way Sanchez could go on the road in tough weather conditions and pull out a victory. He responded with 12/15, 182 yards, and a touchdown. Also, anybody who watched that game and saw a picture perfect 50 yard touchdown pass drop through Braylon Edwards hands knows what Sanchez’s numbers actually should have looked like.
Sanchez got off to a sluggish start in the second round against the Chargers but hit the switch in the fourth quarter and made arguably the biggest play of the Jets season, by buying time with his athleticism and finding Dustin Keller in the back of the end-zone with a rocket on third down to put the Jets ahead. The real Sanchez “arrival” moment was in the AFC Championship Game on the road against the Indianapolis Colts. His stat line is impressive (17/30, 257 yards, 2 TDs) but it doesn’t tell the whole story. When Sanchez stood in the pocket and took a monster hit to the face while delivering a perfect strike to Keller on third down for a touchdown that put the Jets up 14-6, it was a moment that all the Jets fans should have said to themselves “this guy has what it takes to be our franchise quarterback.”
Even though he has what it takes, doesn’t mean it is going to equal a consistent, productive performance. Those games against Buffalo, in New England, and New Orleans happened last year but it seems hard to believe that Sanchez won’t learn from his mistakes in year two. By all accounts, he has put in enormous amounts of work this off-season and has the exact attitude you want from your young quarterback.
Remember the Jets found their way to 9 wins last year with a quarterback having a horrific statistical season. Think about how far they could go, if Sanchez could throw 15 touchdowns, 12 INTs, with a 57 completion percentage.
Beyond Sanchez, the Jets depth is questionable. The expected plan is to go into the year with Sanchez, Mark Brunell, and either Erik Ainge or Kevin O’Connell. With a line-up like that, I might feel better with Brad Smith coming in at quarterback if Sanchez got hurt.
AFC Championship Highlights (Turn Off at 2 Minute Mark)
TOJ Hype Video