How Mark Sanchez Can Finally Step Up This Season, Become Top 10 QB
Now, he still has a lot of work ahead of him, but there's no reason we can't be optimistic.
Plus, Sanchez is taking the leadership role with a force.
Rich Cimini of ESPN New York writes:
Sanchez also said he expects to be a top-10 quarterback this season, agreeing with teammate Bart Scott's statement from Wednesday.
"Sure, you have to think that, you have to play like that," Sanchez said. "As soon as you step on the field, you have to be the baddest guy out there -- the toughest, the best, the most accurate, and you have to want to win."
This is the kind of attitude a quarterback, especially in New York, must have.
Although his development has been minimal and undoubtedly could be better. Still, this is a quarterback who led the New York Jets to the AFC Championship game after his first two NFL seasons.
By comparison to other Jets' quarterbacks, Sanchez is well ahead of the curve.
Yes, Joe Namath delivered after guaranteeing victory before Super Bowl III. Still, Namath never again made it past the Divisional Round and no Jets' quarterback other than Sanchez has ever led Gang Green to two consecutive conference title games.
Sizing him up against his peers, Sanchez certainly remains among the middle of the pack. However, this is also why the games are played.
Weekly Consistency is the Key
Sanchez has been gradually improving as he tossed for 26 touchdowns to only 18 picks in 2011, as well as throwing for 3,474 yards.
Not overly dominant numbers by any means, but better than given credit for.
That said, it's imperative for Sanchez to gain more consistency week by week as opposed to putting up better production annually. We saw too much of a roller coaster in 2011 with a few good/great performances followed by a consecutive weeks of immense frustration.
A prime example was in the 27-11 win over Buffalo on the road where Sanchez connected on 71.4 percent of his throws and had a 92.9 rating. He then flopped down to a 51.3 completion percentage at home against the Patriots—whom he had played fairly well against in New England roughly a month earlier.
Thereafter, Sanchez hit a stretch where he tossed seven touchdowns to just one interception before cooling off during a three-game losing streak which cost the Jets the postseason.
In getting more consistent, Dustin Keller has to become Sanchez's main target. He's one of the NFL's more underrated, yet complete tight ends and possesses the potential to develop as New York's most valuable offensive weapon.
Everyone else will follow suit, because defenses will begin gearing coverages toward Keller and Sanchez can spread the wealth even more. His offensive line is reliable and he establishes a favorite target and puts the rest of the receivers in favorable one-on-one situations.
Don't Lose When Expected or Needing to Win
It hasn't happened too often to Sanchez, but he did lose some games in 2011 when the Jets should have won.
The most notable and obvious came against Miami in Week 17.
Gang Green needed a win to keep their playoff hopes alive and Sanchez hit the deck with three picks and 65.5 rating. Unsurprisingly, the Jets lost 19-17 and they closed out 0-3 and finished 8-8.
With Sanchez starting, how will the Jets' 2012 season pan out?
Prior to 2011, it was a little simpler for Sanchez to win, because he wasn't expected to do so.
A quarterback becomes great when his team wins when they're expected to win. Through Sanchez's first two seasons no one anticipated to straight playoff berths and a memorable run as a No. 6 seed. After the 2010 campaign, though, it was reasonable to suspect New York as an AFC favorite.
Sanchez was then experienced and after back-to-back AFC title game losses, the next step was expected. Not a backward step in terms of team success.
This season is a deal-breaker for Sanchez because he now has to win. With Tim Tebow on the squad, the pressure has been evident since the spring and losing/poor performance regardless will just draw more criticism.
Raise Game Level in the Postseason
January is where Sanchez can turn those skeptics into believers.
It's just a matter of getting there.
He holds a record of 4-2 in the playoffs and has an excellent 9-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Include a postseason career 60.5 completion percentage and 94.1 rating and he was an enormous factor for the Jets.
During the regular season, Sanchez has been the obvious game manager but January has been a vastly different story. Think about how many other NFL quarterbacks there are who have a postseason victory of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.
Yes there are those who have defeated Brady or Manning, but no one else has gotten a January victory over both and it happened in the same postseason. That's quite an accomplishment.
Sanchez has proven the ability to play well in the postseason and take his game to the next level. At this juncture of his brief career, though, it's just getting it done.
Only then will he then become a top 10 quarterback.
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