Sanchez Breakdown: One at a Time

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Stat line: 15/20, 178 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT; 75% completion pct., 118.3 QB Rating

Season Stats: 168/314, 2,038 yards, 11 TD, 9 INT; 53.5 completion pct., 73.4 QB Rating

We’ve gotten to a point – and maybe rightfully so – where Mark Sanchez can do no right in the eyes of some Jets fans. Yesterday, Sanchez played a smart, effective, efficient, well-rounded game. He was sharp, confident, decisive and consistent through four quarters. He played turnover-free football. Yet, lots of chatter on Twitter and the like after the game was, “MEH, SANCHEZ STILL SUCKS.”

I’m not here to be reductive, and as a matter of fact, analyzing Mark Sanchez is the same thing as analyzing the Jets’ season. At this point, you have no choice but to take it one game at a time. So regardless of how you feel about the Jets quarterback in a big-picture sense, you can’t deny that he played well yesterday. That was good enough to get a floundering team to 4-6 and keep the lights on for at least three more days.

The Best: Our esteemed editor has pointed out the pump fake as one of those infuriating Sanchez habits that needs to be broken. Yesterday though, Sanchez looked comfortable and under control in the pocket. The pump fake wasn’t a frantic sign of indecision, but rather a tool Sanchez used to move safeties and wait for the play to develop down the field. The touchdown throw to Chaz Schilens was opened up by a feigned screen into the right flat. Sanchez pumped, the defense bit, and Schilens got open behind the defense. The Jets scored a touchdown on a similar play in week 1 against Buffalo.

Perhaps the most encouraging part of yesterday’s game for Sanchez was that on more than one occasion, he went through his progressions and found his second or third receiving options. One of Sanchez’s glaring weaknesses has been tunnel vision and staring down his primary receiver, but he made strides in the right direction in that area yesterday.

The Worst: Very little went wrong for Sanchez yesterday, though they did need a little bit of luck early on. Sanchez was sacked and stripped on the first drive of the game, but the ball bounced right back into his waiting arms. Disaster averted.

The Key Moment: The Jets were up 13-7 and driving late in the third quarter when they faced a 3rd and 3 from the Rams’ 23 yard line. Off of a playaction fake, Sanchez looked to his right for Stephen Hill on a quick slant, but pulled the ball down and instead dumped it in the left flat to a wide open Konrad Reuland. How many times have we seen Sanchez double-clutch in that situation, only to not get rid of the ball and take a sack? Instead, a simple dump off pass to his safety valve led to Bilal Powell’s first touchdown three plays later. When you hear coaches and quarterbacks talking about “positive plays”, this is exactly what they mean. Credit Sanchez for being patient here, getting 18 big yards, and setting up a key score.

So now, Sanchez needs to do it again, in three days. Yesterday’s success is no indicator of future performance, and like the team, Sanchez will be evaluated one game at a time.