For his entire career, up to this point, we have heard that Mark Sanchez is the weakness on this Jets team.
He coped to the reputation as late as Week 5 when the Jets defense forced a game-ending interception returned for a touchdown against the Vikings.
But in the past four games Mark Sanchez has not only not been a hindrance to the New York Jets, he has been the reason they have won games and been in contention to win games.
You are looking at the maturation of a quarterback.
This has nothing to do with how lucky the Jets have been since Week 6. After all, Rex Ryan said it best in his press conference: "I want to apologize to all the Jets fans for...you know...affecting the heart here a bit, but uh, I will take the win.
"You know, I understand we got some issues finishing games, we blew coverages, some blown assignments, some dropped coverages, all that kind of stuff, but we'll get it fixed. And we're 8-2 and we'll get it fixed and I'll take it."
Want the translation? "Our defense has never been a question. The question has always been Mark Sanchez. Now he's winning us games and I'll fix the defense. You can bank on that."
And why shouldn't they? When has Rex Ryan lied to Jets fans?
Did he lie last year when he said the Jets would lead the league in rushing and defense? Last time I checked both of those predictions came true.
Did he lie before the 2010 season started when he said the Jets would lead the league in wins? The year's not over yet but last I checked the Jets were 8-2, tied for the league lead in wins.
It's certainly not because of their defense.
It's because of their 24-year-old quarterback who was the focus of much derision in the preseason. But now what has he done?
Nothing much, if you're still a blind fool.
For those with common sense Sanchez has turned into a franchise quarterback in a few short weeks.
Prior to Sanchez' 336-yard game against Detroit, the last time a Jets quarterback had thrown for 300-plus yards in a game was December 17, 2006. Including that game against Detroit, Sanchez has now thrown for 336, 299 and 315 yards in his last three games.
In the course of those games, he has thrown a 52-yard pass to Santonio Holmes to set up a game-winning 30-yard field goal, a 37-yard touchdown to Holmes to win the game and a six-yard touchdown pass to Holmes to win another game.
Simply put, if it was Tom Brady doing this the sports world would be worshiping his performance at the moment.
But because it's Mark Sanchez and the Jets everybody is still standing back with questioning eyes.
Is this for real? Are they this good?
Yes and yes.
Look at the Jets most recent loss, a 9-0 shutout at the hands of the Green Bay Packers. Was that loss on Mark Sanchez? He was 16-for-38 with two interceptions. But those who watched the game know the story was much different.
Jerricho Cotchery and Santonio Holmes dropped an absurd number of passes and the Jets' receivers had two passes ripped right out of their hands for interceptions.
That performance was an aberration and the loss was not Mark Sanchez' fault.
In fact, it might be the case that no loss this season was Mark Sanchez' fault. He only threw the ball seven times in the first half of that Ravens game. By the time Rex Ryan and Brian Schottenheimer opened up the playbook the Jets were behind against a strong defense.
So what does this mean?
What it means is that the Jets biggest weakness coming into this season is no longer as much of a weakness as their detractors would like to believe.
It means that Mark Sanchez, although he doesn't deserve the MVP award, deserves MVP consideration for all the plays he's made lately.
It doesn't mean that he will keep playing so well; besides, he's still just a second year quarterback.
But maybe the Jets don't need Mark Sanchez to play this way every week.
Because maybe, as Sanchez has proved, sometimes the Jets defense will bail him out and sometimes he will bail the Jets defense out.
Last season it was not a two-way street.
This season Mark Sanchez has proved that if the defense has his back when he needs it, he will have the defense's back when they need it.
And why won't the defense get better?
Rex Ryan says it will, and when has Rex Ryan lied to Jets fans before?
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!