Sanchez Should Be A Fall Back Option, Not A Scapegoat

TJ Rosenthal on the future of New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez

When the free agency period kicks off on March 1st, the New York Jets will instantly be in the market for a veteran quarterback with starting experience. One who could compete in training camp next summer with Geno Smith or simply take over due to Smith’s struggles or injury. Now assuming the Jets aren’t looking to go quarterback in the first round this April and challenge Smith with a rookie, then this decision will be one of the keys to 2014. Having a veteran backup who is both a insurance policy and viable alternative option is something the Jets have lacked under Rex Ryan. Of all the potential names at the top of the current free agent QB list only one has won four playoff games and has appeared in more than one conference championship. Don’t laugh. You guessed it. Ladies and gentleman, presenting Mark Sanchez.

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Turn On The Jets ‘Let It Go’ – Mark Sanchez Edition

Chris Gross kicks off a new series at Turn On The Jets: “Let It Go” – This week’s edition focusing on quarterback Mark Sanchez

As anyone who follows the New York Jets knows, whether it be closely or casually, there are certain topics that are repeatedly beat to death by the media, fan base, observers, etc. There are numerous issues that seem to be debated back and forth, over and over again, without either side making much progress for the sake of their argument. In this new series here at Turn On The Jets, we will touch upon the topics that fans, media members, and anyone who talks about this team, simply need to let go of. For our inaugural edition of this series, we take a look at why the Sanchez debate has become an enigma and simply needs to stop.

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Is Year 5 Too Late For New York Jets QB Mark Sanchez?

Is year 5 too late for New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez to resurrect his career? Dalbin Osorio explores…

Due to the previous Collective Bargaining Agreement, first round quarterbacks were taken to ideally be the franchise quarterback for an extended period of time. If you connected with your pick, you have Peyton Manning or Donovan McNabb and can compete for a decade plus despite glaring weaknesses at other position groups. If you miss, you end up with Ryan Leaf and your franchise is set back for years. Sometimes, you end up right in the middle. You don’t get a savior (Jason Campbell) but you don’t get a bust either (Sam Bradford). Sometimes, you get a guy that leads your team to moderate success before flaming out amid allegations of blackballing and conspiracies (Vince Young) or a guy that goes on and gives you glimpses of why they were a first round QB on another team (Jay Cutler). Is improvement in the 5th year for a QB too much to ask for a former 5th overall pick? Let’s look at how other first round QBs drafted from 2001-2008 have done in year 5 and see if there’s any reason to hope for “Moscato” Mark Sanchez.

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New York Jets Training Camp Battles: Quarterback Edition

Connor Rogers continues his look at the New York Jets training camp battles by focusing on the quarterback position

Our series of taking a deeper look at the battles going on at New York Jets training camp continues by focusing on the quarterback spot. Quarterback is certainly a position that never lacks drama with the Jets and this year it seems to be at an all time high. The former 5th overall pick from the 2009 draft Mark Sanchez is competing against this year’s second round pick Geno Smith to be the starter. Meanwhile, Greg McElroy and Matt Simms compete for the 3rd string spot. Both won’t be solved until preseason, but let’s see how things are projected and also how each look after few days of practice. Continue reading “New York Jets Training Camp Battles: Quarterback Edition”

New York Jets – Learn From Your Sanchez Mistakes

The New York Jets must learn from their mistakes with Mark Sanchez when it comes to bringing Geno Smith along

It is no secret the New York Jets didn’t create an ideal environment for Mark Sanchez to succeed in, especially the previous couple of seasons. Yes, he gets the majority of the blame for not elevating his play in 2011 and 2012 but you are kidding yourself if you think he was put into a favorable situation. What is important now is that the Jets learn from their mistakes with Sanchez and work to create a quarterback friendly environment for Geno Smith. What does that involve?

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Turn On The Jets 12 Pack – Goddamn Mark Sanchez Edition

The Turn On The Jets 12 pack – With thoughts on our embattled quarterback, Mark Sanchez

Today’s Turn On The Jets 12 Pack is dedicated to Mark Sanchez: our lazy, coddled, mentally weak, California hippie, noodle armed quarterback….as most Jets “fans” will call him. On to the 12 pack! 

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New York Jets – Living With Frustrating Realities

The New York Jets and their fans need to accept a few frustrating realities about next year

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New York Jets fans, like fans of any team, gain attachments to certain players and ideas about their team. Unfortunately that could lead to irrational thoughts and hopes for the off-season, particularly an off-season that is going to be step one in a rebuilding process. The Jets have no shortage of these. Before Twitter is flooded with “FIRE IDZIK” “IDIOT IDZIK” type commentary, prepare yourself for the following –

Mark Sanchez is most likely going to be the starting quarterback next year

Yes – He is going to come back because no team in the NFL will be interested in trading for him and because he isn’t going to re-negotiate his contract to take less guaranteed money. Sanchez will be on this roster and be a prime competitor for the starting job, along with a veteran and probably a mid-level draft pick. Considering he will be the opening day starter in training camp and has experience with the roster, he is the prohibitive favorite to win the job.

If Sanchez is comparable to the other options throughout the summer, he is going to get the starting nod. Why? The Jets have way more invested in him. If he puts together a competent 2013, there will be some type of trade market established for him and he remains a veteran option to compete with a rookie added in the 2014 Draft. Don’t think for a second if somebody like Tavaris Jackson or Matt Moore is signed and they play about the same as Sanchez in August, they are going to get the go-ahead to start. Will Sanchez have a much quicker hook this year? Absolutely. But if you were betting today on who will start the most games for the Jets at quarterback next year, the safest bet is Sanchez.

What is frustrating (outside of Sanchez’s horrific regression in 2012) is the personal hatred of Sanchez has reached such a high level among some fans that it seems they will openly root against him having any success next year, which of course makes no sense. It is only better for the Jets if he plays competently. For people who say that is abjectly hopeless, Sanchez’s career shows he is just as likely to have a 17 touchdown, 13 interception or 26 touchdown, 18 interception season as he is to bomb out the way he did last year. Sanchez isn’t a good quarterback but take away the Tim Tebow Wildcat Shuffle Circus, give him a somewhat threatening running game and upgrade above Mardy Gilyard, Clyde Gates and Chaz Schilens at wide receiver and the possibility exists for a 56 completion percentage, 18 touchdowns and 14 interceptions…AKA competent game-managing at quarterback.

When people say there are higher odds of Greg McElroy being an effective quarterback in Marty Mornhinweg’s offense, what are they substantiating that claim with? We’ve seen Mark Sanchez have a QB Rating above 100 in 15 NFL games that he started, including three playoff games. We’ve never seen Greg McElroy do that, we’ve just seen him be completely overwhelmed in his only NFL start. At least Sanchez has the skill set and knowledge he has done it before.

Only one of the following will be back next year: LaRon Landry, Antonio Cromartie and Darrelle Revis

The odds of every single one of these three players being on the Jets roster next year is just about zero. The odds of two of the three of them being on the roster is fairly low as well. Successful teams are not built by dumping a third of the salary cap into your secondary while the rest of the roster crumbles around it. If Landry is requesting 7 million per year, the Jets are going to let him walk. You can’t pay that type of money for a safety who is average in pass coverage. When it comes to Revis and Cromartie, you can’t pay both long term. Trade one, get draft picks back and reallocate the money to the offense and the painfully awful group of linebackers.

The Jets have the most overpaid wide receiver, linebacker and quarterback in football

Santonio Holmes is going to be a 12.5 million dollar cap hit next year, second highest among wide receivers. David Harris is going to be a 13 million dollar cap hit next year, second highest among linebackers. Mark Sanchez is a 12.8 million dollar cap hit next year. None of these players are even top 25 in the league at their respective positions. That is what we call a financial disaster, my fellow Jets fans.

When you say things like, how can you pay Mark Sanchez but let LaRon Landry go?!? It all sounds well and good but that ship has sailed. The Jets made their bed with Sanchez and now they have to lay in it. Get ready for the reality of unpopular players like Sanchez and Dustin Keller (with a franchise tag) being back while guys like Landry and Cromartie OR Revis leave town. These are financial decisions. This team needs to be rebuilt with a more equitable distribution of the wealth so talent can be replenished on offense and linebacker. This team needs draft picks so they can establish depth and don’t have people like Jeff Cumberland, Garret McIntyre, and Chaz Schilens starting games.

New York Jets Hire Marty Mornhinweg As Offensive Coordinator

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In the wake of the New York Jets announcing the hiring of John Idzik as the organization’s next General Manager, the coaching dominoes have already begun to fall into place. Shortly after agreeing to terms with Idzik, the Jets have hired Marty Mornhinweg as Offensive Coordinator. Both of these hirings finally give the Jets a bit more stability moving forward, after a three week stint with both positions unoccupied.

Mornhinweg joins the Jets after 10 years spent in Philadelphia with the Eagles. Mornhinweg was hired by Andy Reid in 2003 as a senior assistant, became assistant head coach in 2004, and finally took over play calling duties in 2006 as the team’s Offensive Coordinator, a position he held through last season, prior to Reid being fired. During his seven seasons as Eagles’ Offensive Coordinator, Mornhinweg yielded five top 10 offenses and three top 5 offenses, while never finishing outside of 15th in overall offense. Before his tenure in Philadelphia, Mornhinweg worked in Green Bay as the Quarterbacks coach during the Packers’ 1996 Super Bowl XXXI championship season, followed by 4 seasons in San Francisco, serving as both Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks coach under Head Coach Steve Mariucci, and finally a brief stint as Head Coach of the Detroit Lions from 2001-2002.

MM2A long descendant of the Bill Walsh tree, Mornhinweg brings in vast experience in the west coast offense, indicating the Jets will be making a major shift from Tony Sparano’s failed Ground and Pound approach. A shift like this will be beneficial to the Jets, who have been far behind the ball in terms of offensive schematics over the past couple of years. A shift to a west coast style system will be a complete 180 degree spin for Gang Green. Previously under Ryan, the Jets have expressed their desire to be a run first team. Conversely, a west coast offense will use the pass to open up the run. How successful New York will be in their first season in this type of offense is unclear, but this kind of change was an absolute necessity considering the league’s recent offensive trends.

Mornhinweg also brings in an excellent history of quarterback experience. Having played the position in college at the University of Montana, Mornhinweg has been a key instrument in the development of players like Brett Favre (1995, 1996), Steve Young (1997-1999), Jeff Garcia (San Francisco 1999-2000, Philadelphia 2006, 2009), Donovan McNabb (1999-2009), and Michael Vick (2009-2012) among others. It will be interesting to see whether or not the Jets give Mornhinweg a chance to attempt to resurrect the career of Mark Sanchez, the former 5th overall pick who has regressed mightily in his previous two seasons as a pro. Sanchez played in a west coast offense under Offensive Coordinator Steve Sarkisian during his days at USC with high success – 3,207 yards, 34 TD, 10 INT, 65.8 completion percentage during his final season. It is fair to assume that John Idzik will sit down with Mornhinweg to pick his brain about Sanchez before any decisions are made on the embattled quarterback’s future in New York.

Speculation will also begin to circulate about the Jets acquiring Michael Vick and Matt Flynn, both of whom have ties to Mornhinweg and Idzik, respectively, and are expected to become available, either via free agency or trade, when the new league year begins in March. However, internal decisions will likely need to be made at the quarterback position before any additional players are acquired.

This is a very solid hire for the Jets. Mornhinweg brings experience, innovation, and most importantly, something brand new. How well his schematics and system will translate to the current personnel are still unknown, but New York’s offensive ideology is finally beginning to head in the right direction.

Film Room – Solving The Sanchez Problem

Steve Bateman breaks down the film to demonstrate three of Mark Sanchez’s biggest problems

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In recent days and weeks there’s been a great deal of attention directed towards the New York Jets search for new staff. Yet while it’s understandable that fans are anxious to learn who’ll be hiring the players and calling the plays next season, arguably the most important addition at Florham Park this year may also be one of the least heralded: with Mark Sanchez’s career now seemingly at tipping point, the man who’s hired to replace Matt Cavanaugh as QB coach could well be the pivot around which the team’s fortunes turn.

Sanchez was bad this season – there’s no doubting that – but to give us a better idea of where it all went wrong (and where work needs to be done this off-season) let’s take a look at a few plays from 2012 that highlight some of his greatest difficulties all too clearly…

We’ll begin by considering Sanchez’s difficulty in making pre-snap reads, and there’s no better example to be found than back in Week 2 against the Miami Dolphins. The game’s tied at 10 apiece in the third quarter, and the Jets are facing a 3rd & Goal from the 7-yard line. Although the Jets appear to be out in a 4 WR set, they are actually in 11 personnel (1 RB, 1 TE) with Jeff Cumberland split wide to the right (Picture 1, below). The Dolphins have responded with their big nickel package.

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The play has been designed with Stephen Hill (yellow route) as the primary receiver while to his outside Cumberland runs a short hook in order that Hill can draw single coverage in the back of the endzone.

As a QB making his pre-snap read, the first thing that Sanchez has to be aware of is his protection scheme. The Dolphins are showing a 7-man pass rush (4 down linemen along with 2 LBs plus 1 safety (circled in red) all showing blitz). Consequently, there’s a very good chance that the Jets’ 6-man protection scheme (the 5 offensive linemen plus RB Bilal Powell) will be overwhelmed.

This initial read should also trigger a red-hot awareness that if the three circled defenders are all blitzing, the center of the field will be left absolutely unprotected. Suddenly, to any QB who’s confident about his ability to adapt a play at the line of scrimmage (Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady are masters of this) Santonio Holmes (purple route) becomes the most appealing option on the field.

As the play develops (Picture 2) the abandoned tract of center-field looms large (green area) as Holmes gains a step on his defender and breaks into it. Meanwhile, there’s a problem with the play design as Cumberland has taken his route too deep, meaning that the window where Sanchez had been hoping to deliver the ball (red area) is now effectively double-covered. The play can still be aborted, however, and the lead can be taken via a straightforward field goal if a pass is delivered to either of the yellow areas.

Picture 2
Picture 2

The fact that despite all of this Sanchez dumbly floats the ball straight into the most dangerous area of the field (where it’s intercepted by Chris Clemons) is concerning to say the least (Picture 3). Not only does it indicate an unwillingness to deviate from the playbook by pulling the plug and taking a safe option, it also suggests that he entirely failed to compute how the blitzing LBs and safety would impact on the route being run by Holmes (who is now absolutely wide open in the endzone). This is one area where Sanchez simply must show considerable improvement between now and September.

Picture 3

The second problem that we’ll consider is Sanchez’s difficulty in knowing when to swallow the ball and take a sack. Here we’ll look at why this is such a problem by looking back at the Week 13 clash against the Arizona Cardinals.

Below we see the Jets about to run a play-action pass from 21 personnel (2 RBs, 1 TE) on 1st & 10 from their own 12-yard line, while the Cardinals are in a base 3-4 package (Picture 4). Although the player movements are detailed, they are not that important except for the those of the two middle linebackers (red) who will blitz the A-gap (ie the small space between the center and the guards on either side of him).

Picture 4
Picture 4

In next to no time the blitz has leaked into the backfield and Sanchez is under intense pressure (Picture 5). For reasons unknown, Sanchez apparently becomes briefly seized by the belief that he’s the greatest QB to have ever played the game and attempts a ridiculous throw from an absolutely horrible position where one leg is in the air while the other is balanced on tiptoe. (I often compare playing QB to boxing in that there’s very little difference between the techniques that allow for the throwing of a powerful, accurate punch and a similarly lethal pass. I probably don’t need to point out that Muhammad Ali’s success wasn’t built on a tendency to throw punches while falling over backwards and tiptoeing on one leg).

Picture 5
Picture 5

Unsurprisingly the ball wobbles out of Sanchez’s hand and loops into midfield where former Jet Kerry Rhodes immediately breaks on the throw and makes as easy an interception as he’s ever likely to. Thanks entirely to Sanchez’s difficulty in accepting that sometimes it’s best to take one for the team, the Cardinals have a 1st & 10 from the Jets 26-yard line. If Sanchez is to retain his role as the Jets’ starting QB in 2013 he must come to understand his limitations: while it’s great to believe in one’s own abilities, self-delusion is a surefire road to ruin.

Our last consideration is a problem that’s haunted Sanchez throughout his professional career, namely an inability to look off a safety so as to secure single coverage for a receiver running a deep pattern. Let’s look at an example taken from the Week 15 match-up against the Tennessee Titans…

We’re into the final quarter and the Jets are trailing 14-10. The Jets are once again in 21 personnel and are matched up against a 3-deep zone defense run from the Cardinals’ 4-3 under package (Picture 6). Braylon Edwards (circled) is the intended target on the play, and safety Michael Griffin is highlighted in green.

Picture 6
Picture 6

Although he briefly scans center-field to establish whether or not both safeties have dropped deep (thereby giving himself an easy read of the coverage scheme) Sanchez soon switches his gaze towards Edwards (Picture 7).

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Picture 7

Griffin backpedals but keeps his head turned towards Sanchez so that he can read his eyes as he continues staring at Edwards (Picture 8).

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Picture 8

This enables him to commit towards the direction of the throw before it’s even been released, with the result that despite Edwards’s wily attempts to act as defender and knock the ball away, Griffin is in exactly the right place at exactly the right time and is consequently able to collect an easy pick (Picture 9).

Picture 9
Picture 9

In conclusion, although these problems are by-and-large correctable through coaching it would be foolish to presume that the new QB guru – whoever he may be – will have an easy task in helping to resurrect Sanchez’s tarnished reputation. Because while it’s possible to identify the errors and implement drills that are designed to correct them, the only person capable of righting these wrongs is Sanchez himself.

Will he ever learn? I guess that’s the eight million dollar question.

Sanchez Breakdown – A Swan Song for the Jets Quarterback

Rob Celletti breaks down the play of both New York Jets quarterbacks yesterday

The mob at MetLife Stadium got its wish.

Rex Ryan had seen enough, and rightly pulled Mark Sanchez out of yesterday’s game in the third quarter, unofficially ending this quarterback’s reign as starter for the Jets. Sanchez was given every chance, if not the support that he needed, to keep his job and he failed. The shame of this situation is that had Rex Ryan made the move earlier this season, Sanchez might have had an opportunity to respond and win his job back. Ryan didn’t make that move because the man behind Sanchez on the depth chart – initials, T.T. – is not a viable NFL quarterback.

Greg McElroy might not be either, but he provided what most backup quarterbacks provide a languishing team: a spark. All of a sudden, the Jets were exploding off the ball, opening holes for their running backs, and making catches in traffic that they weren’t making for their beleaguered starter. Which is not to say that Sanchez wasn’t absolutely god-awful on Sunday. He most certainly was. I feel confident saying that had he stayed in the game the Jets probably would have lost.

The fact remains that the Jets played harder and better and still only managed to score one touchdown (and turned the football over once, which could have been twice if not for a pretty lucky call that went their way). They are still a bad football team and Greg McElroy doesn’t change that. Luckily, they were playing a team with an even worse quarterback situation than their own. I’m amazed that Ryan Lindley made it out of high school playing football. He made Dave Brown look like Dan Fouts.

I have been a noted supporter of Mark Sanchez, and not for any real reason other than I wanted the Jets to win a lot of football games. In order to do that, you need “the guy” at the sport’s most important position. At times in 2009 and through most of 2010, Sanchez appeared to be “the guy”. However, when adversity struck, Sanchez handled it poorly. It affected his play. What Sanchez needed was some tough love, which his coach was reluctant to provide. He needed to lose his job, even for just a few plays, but not in Week 13 of what’s probably a lost season. It probably had to happen during one of the many blowouts that the Jets have suffered this season. But now, Greg McElroy is going to start the rest of the way in 2012, and he should. The Jets need to find out what they have in order to properly assess (ha! The idea of this front office assessing its roster properly is laughable) their quarterback situation going forward. So let’s talk a bit about the Mac Attack.

What struck me from my seat in MetLife Stadium – albeit a seat that requires the game to be viewed through a telescope – was McElroy’s physical similarity to a former Jets quarterback: Chad Pennington. I am not in any way saying that McElroy will be capable of replicating the success that pre-injury Pennington had – he’s thrown 7 NFL passes. But McElroy’s stature, mannerisms, questionable arm-strength, hell, even the way he handed the ball off, all brought back memories of those early 2000s Jets teams. I did like that he took a shot at a 1 on 1 matchup down the field right away, and was certainly impressed by the back-shoulder throw to Jeremy Kerley on third down, which essentially iced the game.

McElroy showed some mobility, and the Jets rolled him out more frequently in a quarter-plus than they rolled Sanchez out in the past two seasons combined. He didn’t appear to be confused by anything he saw from Arizona.

Look, Greg McElroy was a 7th round draft pick. More than likely, he’ll be nothing more than a backup-level NFL quarterback. And really, that’s the saddest part of today if you’re a Jets fan: the team is once again back to square one at its most important position. Very rarely do franchise quarterbacks fall out of the sky and into your lap. They need to be scouted, drafted, and developed for the modern game.

The Jets failed Mark Sanchez just as much as Sanchez failed them. And now they’re starting over. Less than two years removed from an AFC Championship Game, that’s just depressing, regardless of the excitement Greg McElroy provided yesterday.