Progression is the most important thing a young quarterback can do. The ability to become a smarter football player, improved skills, better leadership tangibles and all that crap is grouped under the term "progression" in accordance to an NFL quarterback.
Mark Sanchez, for all the hype (some unfair) and excessive words written and spoken about him, hasn't progressed a whole lot as an NFL quarterback. At least, not as much as we wanted him to.
We need to talk about Sanchez. He plays in the New York media market, and Eli Manning is too damned boring and complacent to devote time to. Sanchez looks like a superstar, if that makes sense. He plays for the loudest man this side of the Abdominal Showman. Whether it is deserved or not, Sanchez is one of the most talked about NFL players, an odd distinction for someone who has never really proven himself to be anything more than an average NFL quarterback.
And that's exactly what he was yesterday—21-of-32, 207 yards, 2 TD, 3 INT, 65.5 RAT. If you wanted a stereotypical "average" game from a quarterback, those are the numbers that would be spurted out to your disappointment. These are also pretty much the same numbers Sanchez has been putting up his entire three-year career.
The third-year mark is the traditional year where athletes are supposed to make "the leap." The leap is old jargon for essentially stripping away rookie tendencies and entering the prime of your athletic career. Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan were both able to do this last season, and therefore were able to alleviate themselves from the potential "what is wrong with them?" narrative that Sanchez will have to undergo this offseason.
Sanchez did not make the leap this year, and pretty much played at the same level he did during his first two seasons. He improved ever so slightly, but not enough to end Jets fans call for his beheading. You kind of feel bad for him at times, because it seems he can never do anything right. Then he throws two passes right to the same defensive lineman throughout the course of a game and that concern has suddenly been removed.
As I watched the game with my extended family yesterday, Sanchez would be described as looking scared throughout, a description that I find hard to argue. He doesn't really look like he wants to be out there, and whether it is poor body language or something else, that's something he needs to fix. A team that is supposed to be characterized as "tough" and has a quarterback who looks like he just witnessed sequential murders is probably a bad match.
The criticism of Sanchez will always be exaggerated because of where he plays. Some of it is warranted, and some of it is not. But the fact is, he didn't take that next step in becoming a quality NFL quarterback. That is something Jets fans need to be concerned about.