Sanchez Breakdown: #6 Capable of Operating an NFL Offense

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Every Monday throughout the season Rob Celletti will provide a breakdown of Mark Sanchez’s performance. Also a reminder that I will breaking down the game film in a Q&A column tomorrow, if there is anything you want answered send a Tweet to the Turn On The Jets account -

STAT LINE - 19/27, 266 yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception – 123.4 QB Rating, 70.3 completion percentage

Watching yesterday’s beatdown of the Buffalo Bills, one thought continuously crossed my mind: “What team am I watching?”

Every single thing the Jets seemed to have trouble doing on offense last year, they got right in their 2012 opener.  Protecting the quarterback? Mark Sanchez was virtually untouched.  Third down efficiency? 10 for 14.  Getting the ball to playmakers in space?  Mark Sanchez completed passes to seven different receivers.

Regardless of the Jets’ “Ground and Pound” mentality, everyone knows that in the 2012 NFL, the quarterback is the engine that makes an offense go.  Yesterday, Sanchez had the Jets operating like a Maserati.  Here’s a closer look at the starting quarterback’s week 1 performance.

The Best: The basic stat line tells you most of what you need to know, but Sanchez also passed the eye test.  After getting over an early hiccup (more on that in a bit), every pass seemed to get out on time and with velocity.  From an accuracy standpoint, that was the best I’ve seen Sanchez throw the ball.  Receivers were running free through a suspect Buffalo secondary and Sanchez got them the ball with ease.  On his first two touchdown throws, Sanchez identified advantageous one-on-one matchups for his receivers and attacked them, opening up space with some deft pump-fakes.  In other words, the Jets looked like an effective NFL offense, something that couldn’t be said often last year.

The Worst: Obviously, the interception.  I’m steadfast in my defense of Sanchez, but my goodness, what a miserable decision he made there.  For better or worse, it seems that this is part of Sanchez’s personality as a quarterback.  He has a bit of the Tony Romo/Ben Roethlisberger tendency to not give up on a play because of his mobility, but clearly the proper decision would have been to throw the ball away or just run out of bounds.

The Key Moment: There were several, really, because it seemed as though every time the Jets needed a drive, Sanchez was able to engineer one, even in what seemed like garbage time when things got hairy at 41-28.  But for the sake of committing to one “turning point” for yesterday’s game, it has to be the drive after the interception.  A lot has been made of Sanchez’s demeanor and response to negative plays during the course of games throughout his young career.  Credit the fourth-year quarterback for bouncing right back yesterday and not allowing any hysteria involving a certain backup quarterback to ensue.  After Darrelle Revis got the ball back for the Jets at their own 39 yard line, Sanchez hooked up with Jeremy Kerley for 21 yards on third down, and then got a little help from the referees via a pass interference call on 3rd and 6 from Buffalo’s 33.  Three plays later, Kerley caught the Jets’ first touchdown on a wonderfully thrown ball to the back right corner of the endzone, and Gang Green was off to the races.

Next week’s clash in Pittsburgh is sure to provide a more stern test for Sanchez and the rest of the Jets offense, but the quarterback’s week 1 performance is still one to be very excited about.