Sanchez Breakdown: Passing Grade?

Rob Celletti breaks down Mark Sanchez’s performance last night

Stat line: 14/31, 230 Yards, 1 touchdown, 2 interceptions – 54.5 QB rating, 45.2 completion percentage

Season stats: 77/159, 1,043 Yards, 6 touchdowns, 6 interceptions – 66.6 QB rating, 48.4 completion percentage

Last week, I eviscerated Mark Sanchez in this space, and rightfully so.  But if last week was time for a rant, then this week is time for some rationality.

Mark Sanchez was inconsistent last night, but he played more than well enough to keep his job. Rex Ryan is famous for overhyping his players in press conferences, but last night he said that Sanchez played better than the numbers indicated, and I agree with him. Amazingly, the mainstream media tacitly agreed with Ryan, as no one stooped to the absurd level of asking about Sanchez’s job security. Sanchez was in a pass or fail situation, and he passed.  Was he graded on a curve last night? Absolutely, and he should be. When fans are furiously checking Twitter to get injury updates on Clyde Gates, how much blame can really be placed at the feet of the quarterback?

The Best: There was a lot of idiocy cascading down from the stands at MetLife Stadium last night after every incomplete pass, which was frankly infuriating. What these boo-birds failed to realize is that Sanchez actually made some excellent throws in this game; throws that Tim Tebow couldn’t make in a backyard game in Gainesville. The touchdown pass to Jeff Cumberland, the seam route to Jeremy Kerley, the deep cross to Cumberland.  These are NFL level throws that Sanchez executed with aplomb that require a proper read, sound mechanics and timing. In the NFL, if your quarterback can’t make these throws, you just aren’t going to win many games. It’s a passer’s league, period. As is the case throughout his career, Sanchez has shown flashes of ability – the oft-repeated line of course is, “he can make every throw” and he can – but has failed in the consistency department.

The Worst: The Jets had success throwing the ball down the field last night, but struggled mightily in the short passing game.  This is what is so frustrating about watching Sanchez. For every perfect downfield touch pass or frozen rope that pierces zone coverage, he skips a 4-yard out pattern or overthrows a checkdown receiver. This partly explains why his completion percentage is so low. Completing a dump-off to a running back should be a foregone conclusion, but it is anything but in the Jets offense. These accuracy issues are likely a combination of many factors, and the Jets don’t exactly have the most dependable receivers out of the backfield, but if Sanchez doesn’t improve on the short stuff, expect the completion percentage number to remain ugly and the Jet offense to continue to stall.

The Key Moment: When a team is playing poorly as the Jets are, it seems like the worst mistakes always happen at the most crucial moments of the game. You can see where this is going.

The situation was 2nd and 5 from the Texans’ 12-yard line, with the Jets driving for a potential game-tying score heading into halftime. The Jets had just run a draw play for 5 yards and with 30 seconds on the clock and two timeouts, they kept the foot on the gas pedal as opposed to calling timeout, and set up a bread-and-butter play for Sanchez. For all of the short passing woes noted above, Sanchez has typically been reliable on the quick slant. Unfortunately, J.J. Watt stood between Sanchez, the Jets, and six points last night, and Brice McCain grabbed the tipped pass and changed the tenor of the game. Turnovers are going to happen no matter who the quarterback is, and it’s obviously unfair to fault Sanchez for this one last night, but he seems to have a knack for giving the football away in the worst possible moments.

As you know, we’re on a constant Mission to Civilize Jets analysis and discussion here at Turn on the Jets, and it’s important to manage the expectations in regards to Sanchez, given the talent (talent, ha!) that he’s now being forced to work with on offense.  At the same time, everyone is still waiting for him to put it all together, and maybe even carry this rag-tag team on his back and win them a game or two on his own. If you were in MetLife Stadium last night though, you realized that fairly or not, patience is wearing thin with the fourth-year quarterback.

  • joeydefiant

    Hard to look good when you lost your top three targets. Holmes, Keller, and S. Hill. How good would Matt Ryan look without Roddy, Jones, and Gonzo? Eli Manning who I think is the best QB in the NFL right now is the only one who keeps producing no matter who they throw out there.

  • Jay

    Issue is not whether Tebow should replace Sanchez – he shouldn’t…The issue is why does Tebow not have a series or two in a game. Tebow can throw a nice deep route – finally we let him do it. Put him in for a seriesor two, do some runs, a deep route, a draw…see what works. I guess we should look at how San Fran ran their wildcat – I mean it worked against us!

  • Mark Phelan

    The missed play by Sanchez was the weak armed, out-of-bounds throw to an open Cromartie! He was in a position to take it in stride for a TD. As Sanchez did last week with an open Holmes, the throw was too short and did not lead the receiver.

    Sorry, for get problems with receiver talent. If Jerry Rice had been the WR on that Cromartie route there would have been the same result.

    Not to mention, on short passes, how he also rarely leads his receiver and doesn’t have courage to hold the ball that extra split second to allow receivers to get to the 1st down line.

  • Joe Caporoso

    Agree, when dealing with Tebow package…give him a full series to see how he handles it. The haphazard the way the Jets are doing it now is not working.

    And yes Sanchez gets somewhat a pass because of lack of playmakers around him but still he must play better and be more consistent/accurate. Under 50% completion in unacceptable in today’s NFL

  • Joe Caporoso

    Fair point on the throw to Cromartie, that needs to be a TD 100 percent of the time.

  • Charlie Casserly was making a case for a definite “Tebow’ package of at least a full series. You will reduce the number of personnel problems caused by the Jets shuffling players in/out to accommodate the T-Cat. Makes sense – anybody here think Charlie is a better GM than TBaum? What about Brian Billick? Who here feels that Charlie Sheen might be an upgrade over T-Beancounter?