Jets vs. Steelers: What Do We Make of Mark Sanchez, New York's Uneven Offense?

Erik Frenz@ErikFrenzSenior Writer ISeptember 16, 2012

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 16 :  LaMarr Woodley #56 of the Pittsburgh Steelers applies pressure to Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York Jetson September 16, 2012 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The New York Jets we saw take the field at Heinz Stadium against the Pittsburgh Steelers were nothing like the Jets we saw stand up to months of offseason criticism last week against the Bills.

That's because the opponents they faced are on opposite ends of the spectrum. The Bills are fighting to prove themselves after over a decade of futility. The Steelers have spent much of that decade contending for championships with a top-ranked defense.

That same defense that looked old and slow against the Broncos looked like its old self on Sunday.

Two problems diagnosed in the Jets offense this offseason were that they lacked a big-play threat in the running game and that they lacked trustworthy threats in the passing game. Both problems became prevalent on Sunday.

The Jets were on fire against that unit to start the game, with quarterback Mark Sanchez going 4-for-5 for 80 yards and the touchdown to start the game, but he and the offense as a whole went cold after that.

Not only did the Jets struggle to sustain drives, going 4-for-12 on third down, but they also struggled to get off the field on third down, allowing conversions on eight of Pittsburgh's 15 attempts. That manifested itself in the lopsided time of possession—the Jets held the ball for just 23:24 on the game clock, while the Steelers possessed the ball for 36:36.

Sanchez's stat line is certainly unimpressive: 10-for-27 passing for 138 yards and a touchdown indicates a tough day for him, but a handful of drops by his receivers skew those numbers. Wide receiver Santonio Holmes dropped a pair of passes after catching a touchdown pass on the opening drive. 

Wide receiver Stephen Hill beat Stephon Gilmore's press coverage last week, but couldn't get away from press coverage if he had a security detail this week. 

That was only part of the problem, though. The Jets still lack an explosive running game—lest we forget quarterback Tim Tebow's 22-yard scramble in the option. Running back Shonn Greene picked up 23 yards on 11 carries and Bilal Powell picked up 33 yards on nine carries. 

The Jets remained a balanced offense in the loss, throwing 27 passes and running the ball 23 times, but balance doesn't equal production.

Executing when the opportunity comes your way equals production. Making big plays equals production.

The Jets were doing both just fine against the Bills, and with a road game against the Miami Dolphins next, the Jets have to work quickly to build off their struggles and get back to what was working offensively.

If they don't, it could be the same story at SunLife Stadium.


Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless specified otherwise, all quotes are obtained firsthand.