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.