For the last couple of weeks, many fans have used Mark Sanchez's adequate or decent performances to say, "This should prove once and for all that Mark Sanchez is the real deal." Others continue to argue that he's at the bottom of the league in completion percentage and in doing so makes the Jets offense one-dimensional and much easier to stop.
The difference in last night's blowout to the Patriots was the skilled quarterbacking of Tom Brady.
While Sanchez continues to throw behind, above and under his receivers (and directly into the chests of the defense), Brady completed passes all over the field. More than that, he read the defense and called plays that took advantage of matchups that resulted in touchdowns all night.
Four of the Jets' last five wins were last-minute "squeakers" against weak teams they were expected to dominate. Going into tonight, no one knew for sure what to think of the Jets. With one decisive win in the last seven games, I think back to how strongly this team played at the end of last season and wonder what happened.
Last season the running game marched down the field for touchdowns. This year defenses are attacking the Jets running game. They're saying to the Jets, "You're going to have to beat us with your passing game." And for the Jets so far, it doesn't matter what defense they're playing against, they don't seem able to take advantage of any secondary.
Mark Sanchez is at the bottom of the league in percentage of completed passes, and if you watch the game, it's not hard to tell why. He generally isn't accurate. As well, he also is at the bottom of the league in yards per completion. He tends to throw dinky-dunky stuff for four yards. LaDainian Tomlinson let a pass go right past his chest on a fourth-down attempt late in the game. Yards away from the first down and heavily covered he must have thought that Sanchez had another receiver targeted behind him. There wasn't anyone else there.
To understand the impact quarterbacking played in last night's game, imagine if the quarterbacks had been switched. Sanchez played for New England, and Brady played for the Jets. Not only would the Jets have won, but by the same margin, if not more. The Jets are a better team than the Patriots outside quarterback.
Our running game would explode on defenses worried about the quarterback. Our defense would not have to win EVERY SINGLE GAME for us.
I'm a Jets fan. I want them to win. The entire thing rides on Sanchez. The quarterback is a special position. The quality of play at this position has a tremendous impact on the team's success or failure. The Jets will have the opportunity to show the league they're better than last night's nose dive, but they're going to need more than field goals to make the playoffs.