New York Jets starting quarterback Mark Sanchez was asked to drop back for nine pass attempts in the team’s pre-season opener. Here is a breakdown of what occurred on each play and an overall analysis of his and the first unit’s performance in the passing game –
1) – 1st and 10 on NYJ 20 yard line – Completion for 0 yards to John Conner
The Jets opened the game in a double tight formation (Dustin Keller and Jeff Cumberland) with Stephen Hill split out wide and two backs. They ran a basic play action bootleg out to the right (a play Jets fans are familiar with from Brian Schottenheimer). Hill cleared out leaving Keller as the first read but he was covered, the only other viable option on the play was Conner in the flat who Sanchez threw the ball to. Conner made the reception but was immediately tackled by Manny Lawson. A simple, safe play that was defended and tackled well.
2) – 3rd and 8 on NYJ 22 yard line – Sacked for 9 yard loss
The Jets came out in shotgun on 3rd long with a bunch formation to the right. Sanchez never had a chance on this play as the Bengals sent a blitz to the right side. Austin Howard picked up the proper man but running back Bilal Powell missed Rey Maualuga who brought Sanchez down before the play had a chance to develop.
3) 3rd and 2 on NYJ 28 yard line – Incompletion to Jordan White
Again the New York Jets ran a play that was popular during the Brian Schottenheimer years. The short yardage, speed out to the slot receiver was a bread butter play for the Jets in both 2009 and 2010, with Jerricho Cotchery frequently running it, although Braylon Edwards ripped off a big gain on it in 2009 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. This play was designed for Jordan White and it is basically going to him no matter what, as from the slot he is supposed to run an immediate speed out a 1/2 yard to a yard past the first down marker on the short side of the field. The ball gets thrown to the low and outside where only the receiver can get it.
White cut his route a little short (a frequent mistake for young receivers), throwing off the timing. Sanchez threw the ball where it was supposed to be but White failed to pull in the tough catch (Terrence Newman had nice coverage as well).
4) 1st and 10 on NYJ 33 yard line – 6 yard completion to Patrick Turner
Turner ran an angle route over the middle from the slot position. He quickly beat his man to the inside (Leon Hall) and as the primary target Sanchez got the ball to him quickly. Hall recovered to make a nice tackle. Overall, a successfully executed first down play that is probably better suited to a quicker player like Jeremy Kerley.
5) 2nd and 4 on NYJ 39 yard line – 6 yard completion to Patrick Turner
The Jets ran double speed outs with their outside receivers (Turner and Stephen Hill). Turner was on the short side of the field and was receiving a substantial cushion. Sanchez made the right read and a good throw to convert the first down. Again a simple, safe call to convert on 2nd and short.
6) 2nd and 11 on NYJ 44 yard line – 9 yard completion to Patrick Turner
As you can tell, Sanchez was easily the most comfortable with Turner out of any of his wide receivers. On this play, Turner ran a comeback route and was the primary option. Sanchez delivered a well timed throw. Leon Hall provided fairly good coverage and wrapped Turner up immediately. Either way, a successful play on a 2nd and long.
7) 3rd and 2 on CIN 47 yard line – Sanchez scrambles for 4 yards
It is hard to tell whether Sanchez taking off up the middle was the primary option on this play. The Jets sent their outside receivers on deep post corner routes (both of whom were blanketed) and the middle of the field was cleared out as well by vertical routes. Sanchez stepped up in the pocket and had nothing but green in front of him. He got enough for the first down and got down.
8) 2nd and 8 on CIN 41 yard line – Sanchez sacked 7 yard loss
Simply put, backup tight end Jeff Cumberland was smoked off the line by Manny Lawson, barely getting a hand on him. Sanchez hadn’t even set his feet and Lawson was on him. Can we sign a blocking tight end?
9) 3rd and 15 on CIN 48 yard line – Incompletion to Jordan White
The Jets didn’t run an aggressive play here to attempt to get a first down. It looked more like the intent was to get half the yardage to either go for it on 4th down or kick a long field goal. Jordan White ran an option route in the slot but never really came open. Sanchez waited and bought himself a little time by scrambling out to his left but basically threw it away because of how covered White was.
Analysis – Tony Sparano didn’t give Sanchez much of a chance to push the ball vertically and that might have been wise considering some of the protection issues. Neither of the sacks or incompletions were on Sanchez. Rookie Jordan White was the target of both incompletions and failed to run a good route both times or catch the ball in the one case. Sanchez was given no time on either sacks. On his completions (outside of the dump off to Conner), Patrick Turner was the primary target and he got him the ball every time. Two 6 yard and a 9 yard completion may not seem impressive but considering the context (6 yards on first down, converting a first down on 2nd and short and picking up 9 yards on 2nd and 11, respectively) they were good throws.
Keep in mind, Santonio Holmes will be in Turner’s spot on those type of plays and has the ability to get more separation and create more after the catch.
A Word On Tebow
The Good – His slant route to Stephen Hill for 12 yards was a very impressive thrown. Cover 2 is the last type of coverage you want to see on a slant route and Tebow fit it into a tight window. The scrambles were all very athletic plays, even if he might have pulled the ball down a little early on a few. Regardless, you don’t complain when you are picking up chunks of yardage like that. He also had a nice throw to Stephen Hill on a 3rd and 7 that Hill blatantly dropped.
The Bad – The interception was awful, by both him and Jeff Cumberland. Cumberland had an option route and should have hitched back to the quarterback instead of breaking out. Regardless Tebow locked into him and threw it regardless even though the linebacker had cut underneath. He had a poor read and throw to Chaz Schilens on a slant and go. Tebow again locked in even though Schilens was blanketed by two guys and floated a poorly thrown ball. He should have checked down in that situation.