Mark Sanchez: 6 Things to Love About New York Jets' No. 6

John Nizinski@@jniz73Analyst IIISeptember 1, 2012

Mark Sanchez: 6 Things to Love About New York Jets' No. 6

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    If for some reason you didn't know, Mark Sanchez is the often-criticized, often-scrutinized starting quarterback of the New York Jets.

    Any discussion lately that involves Sanchez happens in a negative light. Everyone discusses his flaws but more often than not fails to discuss his strengths.

    Jets fans are nervous about their team going into next season. Much of that is because of their quarterback situation and the way Sanchez is portrayed by many in the media.

    Here is a different perspective and a look at six things to love about Sanchez.

His Toughness and Durability

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    A good theme song for Mark Sanchez's season last year would have been Chumbawamba's "Tubthumping."

    The Jets offensive line had a horrible season last year. This caused Sanchez to continuously "get knocked down." After every hard hit, he got back up again.

    A positive to take away from the Jets' disappointing season was Sanchez's toughness and ability to stay healthy, shaking off the bone-crushing hits he took.

    If you watched the Baltimore Ravens game, you know exactly what I am talking about.

    Sanchez took an absolute beating but kept coming back for more.

    He was sacked the fifth-most times in the NFL last year. It is not easy to be an effective quarterback when your pass protection is lousy.

His Athleticism

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    Another aspect of Mark Sanchez's game that is underappreciated is his athleticism.

    Here's a trivia question; who had more rushing touchdowns last season, Sanchez or Chris Johnson? The answer is Sanchez. Who had more rushing touchdowns last season, Sanchez or Darren McFadden? The answer again is Sanchez.

    Sanchez had six rushing touchdowns last season and three in each of his first two seasons. He is obviously not a top threat on the ground like Michael Vick or Cam Newton. However, Sanchez's ability to get the football across the goal line is something that shouldn't go unnoticed.

    If there is one thing that Mark Sanchez can do and Drew Brees can't, it is dunking the football over the goalpost. 

How He Handles Pressure in the Playoffs

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    It seems as if everyone forgets Mark Sanchez's postseason success. In just three seasons, Sanchez trails only Eli Manning for the most road playoff wins by a quarterback.

    In his first two seasons in the NFL, Sanchez went to back-to-back AFC title games. Many people say that the Jets defense carried him to those games and Sanchez was just a game manager. However, if you look at Sanchez's stats in the playoffs, you will see otherwise.

    In six playoff games, Sanchez has averaged 193 yards per game and has had a 60.5-percent completion rate. He has thrown nine touchdowns and only three interceptions in those games.

    In each AFC Championship Game, Sanchez threw for over 200 yards and two touchdowns. It was the defense that was to blame for the Jets failing to make both Super Bowls. They blew a lead to the Indianapolis Colts in 2009 and gave up 30 points. The following year they allowed 24 points to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    Sanchez has been stellar in the postseason.

His Red-Zone Success

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    A big story this preseason has been the Jets' inability to score touchdowns. Mark Sanchez had zero touchdowns in three preseason games.

    While this is not a positive, I prefer regular-season stats over those from the preseason.

    Last season, the Jets were the second-best team in scoring touchdowns when they got into the red zone. Sanchez was able to find Plaxico Burress in the end zone when the Jets got within 20 yards.

    Sanchez's success in the red zone is definitely not a negative thing for the Jets. Stephen Hill should be a solid red-zone threat for the QB in 2012.

His Stats Have Improved Each Year

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    I have heard many people say that March Sanchez regressed last season, but I disagree.

    The New York Jets regressed as a team compared to Sanchez's first two seasons. However, Sanchez as a player did not regress, and his statistics prove that.

    Obviously statistics aren't everything, but they do mean something.

    In his first season, Sanchez threw 12 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. In his second season, he threw 17 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Last year, Sanchez threw 26 touchdowns (which was ninth in the NFL) and 18 interceptions. 

    His passing-touchdown total has gone up significantly each season. While his number of interceptions did increase from his second season to his third, seven of the 18 picks he threw last year were in the last three games of New York's collapse.

    Sanchez's passing yards per game, quarterback rating and completion percentage have gone up each season.

He Is a Winner

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    When people talk about Tim Tebow, one thing they often say is that he is a winner. The same isn't said for Mark Sanchez, even though it may be true.

    Sanchez never had a losing season season coming into the NFL. He has been to two AFC title games and actually has a better regular-season winning percentage than Tebow.

    Sanchez has also come up big at the ends of games and has led the Jets to wins late in games. So far in his career, Sanchez has had nine fourth-quarter comebacks and 11 game-winning drives.