Sanchez Breakdown: Head Check

Rob Celletti provides his weekly breakdown of Mark Sanchez’s performance

Stat Line: 28/41, 328 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception – 90.3 QB Rating, 68.3 completion percentage

Season Stats: 116/218, 1,453 yards, 9 touchdowns, 7 interceptions – 74.6 QB Rating, 53.2 completion percentage

I’m starting to develop a love/hate relationship with this column. Don’t get me wrong, I love writing about the Jets, I love participating in the Great Ongoing Quarterback Debate, and in general, it’s been a fun exercise. But yesterday’s game – and the sport in general – is about so many more things than the play of Mark Sanchez. Anyone who places the blame for yesterday’s loss solely on the quarterback needs to have his or her head examined.

The truth is this: if Mark Sanchez plays the way he did yesterday for the rest of the season, the Jets are probably going to win at least 6 of their remaining 9 games and make the playoffs. Does this absolve him of the interception? No. But 25 quarterbacks have competed thus far in Week 7 of the NFL season, and 15 of them threw at least one interception (Joe Flacco and Eli Manning threw two apiece! Gasp!). Interceptions are part of the game, and by the way, Sanchez’s did not lead directly to points against the Jets. Was the game-ending fumble really his fault? Or do Jets fans need to suck it up and credit Rob Ninkovich for blowing through the Jets’ line and making a game-sealing play? Where was this play by a Jet linebacker moments earlier, when they had a chance to seal the game themselves? But I digress. You know how this goes…

The Best: Sanchez engineered one of the drives of his career to get the Jets within a field goal in the 4th quarter. A drive that started on the 8 yard line was set back by a false start penalty, so in reality, Sanchez drove the Jets 96 yards in 14 plays in just under 7 minutes. The 7 route he completed to Jeremy Kerley on 3rd and 3 from the 32 is just another example of an elite-level NFL throw that Sanchez executed perfectly. Even when plays broke down, Sanchez made the right decision, such as his check down to Lex Hilliard three plays after the Kerley first down to keep the chains moving. Basically, Sanchez did everything that a good NFL quarterback needs to do in a key spot. He was calm, accurate, and most importantly, he finished the drive, and did so with a flourish, throwing an absolute dart into a tight window for the Dustin Keller touchdown. The comeback was on.

The Worst: While I fall on the side of the debate that generally comes to Sanchez’s defense, I feel as though I’ve been pretty fair in my criticism of his shortcomings. He still has at least two or three head-scratching moments every game, which is difficult to explain for a fourth year quarterback. But some quarterbacks never shake these moments from their games (see Romo, Tony; Cutler, Jay) and fans will need to learn to live with them. The interception was bad for several reasons: 1) the ball was thrown way too late after Sanchez had pump-faked to the other side of the field; 2) it was severely under-thrown; 3) Sanchez had at least two other places he could have gone with the ball to pick up positive yardage. Not only did he miss a touchdown, he gave away possession cheaply.

The Jets were also unable to finish drives. Again, there is more than enough blame to go around (conservative play-calling, Stephen Hill‘s drop, etc.), but Sanchez was a damn good red zone quarterback last year, and the Jets only scored two touchdowns yesterday in their four trips inside New England’s 20. There were certainly points left on the field by Sanchez and the offense yesterday, which is immensely frustrating.

Here’s the undeniable truth: Mark Sanchez handed the Jets a 26-23 lead with 1:37 remaining in this game. I understand that he has his critics, and the debate has become a little bit like politics; no matter what is said or what happens, people have chosen which side of the fence they‘re on and have dug in to staunchly defend that position. Still, the people who blame yesterday’s loss solely on Sanchez are being unrealistic and unfair. If you’re going to bash Sanchez for his mistakes, you have that right, but credit him when he deserves it – and his second half performance yesterday deserves a ton of credit. If you want him replaced, then I’d like to ask: by whom?

Yesterday’s performance was good enough for the Jets to win. Unfortunately, the narrative surrounding this team and this quarterback has a lot of people believing otherwise.

  • Sanchez had a GREAT game… Truly his best throwing the ball IMO. However that was the worst secondary in the NFL ever! If the safeties just threw the WR out of bounds in the corner routs they get rid of half of the completions of the Jets. I dont know if Sanchez can play the same way against a better secondary so to be continued on that one.

  • joeydefiant

    Luckily Miami’s secondary isn’t much better.

  • mike

    the biggest thing effecting sanchez’s numbers is the return of dustin keller. he was targeted 7 times on sunday and had 7 receptions for 94 yards, including a touchdown. getting him healthy has gotten the offense pretty close to where an optimistic jets fan wanted it before the season. if they improve their red zone efficiency, this might actually become a formidable offense for stretches, and that obviously wouldn’t be possible with tebow at the helm.
    what happened sunday was a poor defensive game plan on the final pats drive of regulation. does the best defensive mind in the game really think no pressure and soft coverage underneath is how you beat brady? really?

  • joeydefiant

    All these idiots calling for McElroy are ridiculous. I have faced the facts. There are a lot of bitter old white Jets fans who will never like Mark Sanchez because of his last name. They booed the night he was drafted and haven’t stopped since. (These same people will be voting for Mitt Romney, 99% of Sanchez haters are.)When he won two playoff games his first two years on the road it was due to the defense and was still hated. The wins are always due to the D but the losses are always due to Sanchez. This whole “he’s a poor mans Tony Romo” makes me sick. Can anyone see Tony Romo winning two playoff games at all? Let alone on the road two years in a row. No matter what you say about Sanchez he continually shows up in big games. His numbers against the Pats are great and besides Eli Manning he probably has the best record against The Patriots in the league in the last 3 and a half years. We all know how Tim Tebow did against the pats. The whole Tebow is a winner thing can be applied to Sanchez twice as much. Won it all in college his first year as a starter and has three more playoff wins than Tebow. (still had one more at their same point in their career.) Why is Tebow considered a winner and Sanchez a loser?

  • Angel

    Joey Defiant… are you insane?!?!

    As a Latino who consistently defends Sanchez, I can tell you these same idiots booing Sanchez, booed Pennington, Testeverde, Esiasan, AND Manning and Phil Simms on the Giants as well.

    It has nothing to do with race. What a sad world you live in if you think this is the case.

    Sanchez is a good QB on pace to be a great QB… look at the numbers.

    I will, of course, be voting for Romney… not because Obama has put more hispanics on welfare and food stamps than any other President in the history of the planet Earth, but because Obama’s policies have failed ALL Americans… on every level… look at the numbers.

    Wake up and break out of the “prison cell” the elite have built for you.

  • joeydefiant

    I mostly remember everyone calling Pennington the next Joe Montana. And towards the end of his Jets career a little noodle arm thrown in with the excuse of two injuries to the same shoulder. Most of the fan base/media was much more supportive of Pennington than Sanchez.

  • joeydefiant

    You are assuming because I don’t like Romney I like Obama. Both are bought by the rich elite. I don’t support either party.