In Sanchez's rookie season in 2009 and sophomore year in 2010, the Jets used him as a game-manager instead of a passer. The team ran the ball an upward of 55 percent of the time in both years.
As a run-oriented team, the Jets enjoyed a lot of success. Rex Ryan and company placed in the top four in rushing in both seasons while also appearing in the AFC Championship game in back-to-back years.
However, the team went through an offensive transformation last season. Without an elite defense dominating the opposing offense, the Jets were forced to air it out on multiple occasions.
As a result, Gang Green lost its offensive identity. They were no longer a run-oriented offense, but Mark Sanchez was not ready to carry the load at quarterback after attempting just 871 passes in his first two seasons combined.
The sudden offensive alteration was too much for Sanchez to handle. The USC product tied for the league lead in turnovers, and the Jets offense failed to find any rhythm for an extended period of time at any point throughout the season.
The result of the loss of identity on offense was catastrophic. The Jets failed to make the playoffs for the first time in the Rex Ryan era and the locker room imploded.
The defense caved in under the pressure of carrying the load at all times. Santonio Holmes and LaDanian Tomlinson blamed Sanchez for his incapability to control the offense.
After the blowup last year, the Jets enter this season with extremely low expectations from everyone outside of Florham Park.
The low expectations for the team is sure to help Sanchez, as he will not continually be pressured with the burden of a "Super Bowl-or-bust" mentality.
However, Sanchez will continue to struggle unless the offense finds an identity.
The identity of the offensive unit has to be a run-oriented attack.
The Jets made numerous moves to improve the rushing game heading into this season.
Gang Green brought in former Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano to be the new offensive coordinator. Sparano loves to run the football, as Miami ranked 12th, third, 11th and sixth in rushing attempts during his tenure there.
The Jets also brought in the most polarizing player in the league—Tim Tebow—to re-establish the wildcat into the offense.
New York enjoyed tremendous success with the wildcat in 2009 and 2010 with Brad Smith. However, since Smith departed in free agency last offseason, the wildcat has been largely ineffective.
With Tebow running the wildcat, the Jets rushing attack is likely to have new life. Tebow is a load to take down for any defensive player, and he is terrific in goal-line and short-yard situations.
New York's offensive line should also be improved from last season. Guards Matt Slausen and Brandon Moore both dealt with injuries last season, but should be fully healthy entering the 2012 campaign.
Tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson is also likely to revert back to his usual dominant self. Ferguson had a sub-par season in 2011, allowing plenty of sacks and being a disappointment in run-blocking.
Second-round pick Stephen Hill is also likely to help the Jets' rushing game in numerous ways. The wide receiver is a superb run-blocker, and he should allow Shonn Greene to attack the outside with success on a more consistent basis.
Hill is also a dangerous deep threat. The Georgia Tech product can explode past opposing cornerbacks and burn the defense for huge yardage.
Hill will stretch out the opposing defense and prevent them from stacking the box. This allows more openings for Greene and Tebow.
With a running game that is clicking on all cylinders, Sanchez will no longer be forced to carry the load on offense, and he can find his groove much easier.
The former first-round pick is a superb game manager, and he can easily control the tempo of the game when the offense is moving the chains.
Even if the run-based offense does not work at first, the Jets must stick with it.
Constant changes in offensive strategies will just make Sanchez more uncomfortable and stunt his development further.
Sanchez will benefit from the stability, and he may finally be able to take the next step as a franchise quarterback.
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