Mark Sanchez: 6 Ways New York Jets QB Can Return to Winning Ways
Sanchez has been trying to get back to his winning form from his rookie season for the past three years, and with fan and media darling Tim Tebow waiting in the wings this year, Sanchez might not have much more time to regain it. The Tebow craze is starting to take over New York but Jets head coach Rex Ryan has repeatedly proclaimed his faith in and support of Sanchez.
If Mark Sanchez wants to continue starting in New York he's going to have to turn things around, and fast. The Jets have Sanchez on a leash that is growing drastically shorter with every game.
The Jets' schedule leading up to the bye week features some tough games that are going to test the injury riddled Jets. Here's a look at some things Sanchez needs to do if he wants to return to his winning ways and maintain his starting job.
Make the Easy Throw
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With a receiving corp now headlined by Jeremy Kerley, Mark Sanchez lacks a game changer at the receiver position. The Jets' top three receivers right now have a combined seven years of NFL experience coming into this season with five of those years belonging to Chaz Schilens.
Sanchez has been guilty this season of trying to make the more difficult, home-run throw and passing up the opportunity to make a shorter simpler throw. In order for Sanchez to turn the Jets around he has to be willing to make those shorter simpler throws.
When Santonio Holmes went down with an injury the Jets lost their one wide receiver that could potentially give teams nightmares. None of the teams on the Jets' schedule are going to be losing any sleep over how they will cover Chaz Schilens.
That being said it is the quarterback's job to help his young receivers gain confidence. The best way for Sanchez to help build up the confidence of these young players is to not try and force the ball into coverage. He needs to be willing to settle for the short easy throw that will not put his receivers in danger.
The 3 C's: Calm, Confident and Composed
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Winning and success in any aspect of life begins with being confident. Sanchez needs to regain a confident swagger he carried as a Trojan at USC and kept into his rookie season.
He has all the physical skills needed to be successful, but right now he seems to be lacking the mental tools needed. The best quarterbacks are the ones who are able to maintain composure throughout an entire game. Even if he does not completely have everything under control, Sanchez needs to pretend he does.
Being able to stay calm, confident and composed is even more crucial for Sanchez than other quarterbacks right now due to the youthfulness of the surrounding role players.
If Sanchez is not able to prove to his teammates he is competent and confident he will never be able to be successful again this season.
Do His Part to Establish a Running Game
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Just to clarify, I am not saying that Sanchez must become a 1,000-yard rusher in order for the Jets to be successful. That will never happen.
The Jets run game has been like the rest of the Jets offense this season—abysmal. The Jets cannot rely on Sanchez to throw the ball 50 times a game so they can win. As the run game develops, so will the Jets offense. The rag-tag backfield featured in New York is not going to win any glamor awards, but Sanchez can do his part to help them out.
Play-actions and draws have become integral parts of almost every offense in the NFL, and that is where Sanchez can help develop the run game. If Sanchez is able to sell play-actions and draws consistently, the opposing defense will have to begin to respect the chance of a run. That way, when it's called, Sanchez will begin to see more opportunities open up in the running game. As the running game opens up, the passing game will follow suit.
Spread the Ball Around
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With Holmes out of the lineup, and Sanchez's other favorite target, tight end Dustin Keller, missing from action, the Jets' quarterback is without either of his safety valves. The inexperience of the rest of the Jets' skill players leaves Sanchez without a veteran player whom he can lean on to help carry the load.
While he will undoubtedly find a new favorite target in the next week (most likely Kerley). Without someone Sanchez can lean heavily on, it will become crucial for Sanchez to spread his targets out.
If someone emerges over the course of the next few games who has the ability to become the Jets' go-to receiver, Sanchez should utilize that person. For now, however, Sanchez needs to be smart with his targets, and not put too much pressure on one of his young receivers.
Get Rid of the Ball
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In the 49ers' 34-0 blowout of the Jets, Sanchez was sacked a total of three times. He has been sacked a total of six times this season. Sanchez has spent more time on his back or running away from opposing defenses than the Jets would like.
While some of the blame for this falls onto the offensive line, some of the blame falls squarely onto Sanchez. Often this season, Sanchez has taken too much time to find a receiver or throw the ball away, leading to a sack or his being hurried out of the pocket.
It is going to become crucial for Sanchez and the Jets to utilize a three-step drop and/or a quick pop pass in order to avoid some of the physical beating like Sanchez has taken so far this season.
Block Out the Media
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Living and playing in New York thrusts anyone into the forefront of the media, and puts every little detail of life under a microscope. Sanchez cannot allow himself to get caught up in the media circus if he wants to be successful again.
The pressure on Sanchez from the media has grown since Tim Tebow's arrival in New York. For the most part, Sanchez has done an adequate job of blocking out the media scrutiny, or not allowing it to show if it got to him.
Whatever it takes for Sanchez to get away from the media circus that can mentally affect a player, he needs to make sure those steps are taken. For Sanchez, that may mean finding ways to dodge the media for interviews and allow Tebow to upstage him. Sanchez may just need to let that happen. It is time for this glamour boy to go silent for once. If Sanchez is able to do that he just might be able to let his play do the talking for him.