Mark Sanchez: 4 Things New York Jets Star Must Do to Prove He's a Franchise QB
However, over the last few years, he's been in the spotlight for the wrong reasons. He has frequently been the subject of harsh criticism in the unrelenting New York City media and with the unapologetic Big Apple fans.
There are a few things Sanchez can do to get deserved positive notoriety this season and beyond, and stake his claim as Gang Green's franchise quarterback.
Complete More Passes
Don't underestimate the importance of the completed pass.
A lot of boos have rained down at Jets home games over the last three years after Sanchez has struggled completing simple passes.
He's improved his completion percentage every year he's been in the NFL, but last season's career high of 56.7 percent won't cut it.
Hopefully, for Sanchez's sake, new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano will incorporate a handful of easy throws at the beginning of games for the former USC Trojan to allow him to build confidence.
Also, Sparano simply must call less pass plays for the Jets. It wouldn't be a knock on Sanchez, but a way to make him more efficient as a signal-caller.
His 543 attempts in 2011 ranked him ninth in the NFL.
That's too high.
Sanchez doesn't have a multitude of weapons outside, but the team's pass-catching unit is far from inadequate.
Higher completion percentage equals more yards, more first downs and probably more points.
The first step to becoming a definitive franchise quarterback.
Limit Sacks and Interceptions
This is another determining factor that, on the surface, seems obvious.
That doesn't mean it's not crucial to Sanchez's improvement.
In 2011, he pieced together his best statistical season, throwing 26 touchdowns to only 18 interceptions. In addition, he took 40 sacks, the 13th most in the NFL.
It's easier said than done, but Sanchez has to be more confident and tactical in his passing progressions.
He must go through them, and if no one's open, it must become second nature for him to hit his checkdown target or throw the football away.
While he does have some athleticism to scramble out of the pocket, above all, he must hone his skills as a pocket passer.
Lead by Example
If Sanchez can become a master of the first two slides, this should come naturally.
Not all leaders are strong-willed, outspoken and in-your-face.
Many lead by example.
Sanchez seems like a soft-spoken, down-to-earth type of guy. That's fine.
He'll just need to carefully pick-and-choose his spots with the media and not be afraid to exude confidence on and off the field.
If he has a bad game, he has to own up to his mistakes and make bold statements about what he'll do the following Sunday to make up for the loss or the untimely interception.
He doesn't necessarily need to show a ton of fire on the field if that's not an innate part of his personality, but exhibiting more of a backbone during games and press conferences will go a long way in his maturation into the Jets franchise quarterback.
Beat Elite Competition
To be the best you've got to beat the best.
He opens with a revamped Buffalo Bills team at home.
Add in the two games against the Patriots, and you see why Sanchez has a fine opportunity to make his name in a handful of huge contests this season.