Don’t tell quarterback Mark Sanchez about the dreaded sophomore slump. In his second NFL season for the New York Jets, Mark Sanchez grew in leaps and bounds, leading his team back to the AFC Championship Game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Sanchez was impressive in his rookie season but improved dramatically in 2010. He was better in every aspect of the game after gaining a valuable year of experience, and he has shown the Jets why he is their quarterback of the future and face of the franchise.
The Sanchize, Mark Sanchez, finished 2010 completing 278 out of 507 pass attempts for 3,291 yards, 17 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions.
No longer a liability, Sanchez is now the leader of the offense and a quarterback that has grown in confidence since his rookie season. In 2011, the Jets are Mark Sanchez’s team. If they want to win the Super Bowl, Mark Sanchez is the guy that will lead them. So expect another good season from the Jets quarterback.
Here is how he is projected to perform each week of the 2011 season.
Opening the season at home against “America’s team” on national television, this game which features both Ryan brothers is sure to be a good one. Both teams will battle nerves, especially Sanchez in front of 82,000 screaming Jets fans.
Last year’s Cowboy team finished 26th in passing defense giving up 33 touchdown passes, allowing opposing quarterbacks to have a 92.7 passer rating, and giving up 243 passing yards per game.
The Dallas run defense, however, was ranked 12th a season ago, only giving up 108 yards per game on the ground. With Rex Ryan’s brother Rob now taking over the Cowboys defense, look for Dallas to improve and become more aggressive on the defensive side.
Sanchez will throw more against a vulnerable secondary, but with 2010 sack leader DeMarcus Ware anchoring the line, Sanchez will look to get rid of the ball quickly and find his receivers for short yardage. Watch out for screens, slants over the middle, and even streaks down the middle of the field provided that the Jets offensive line holds up for Sanchez.
Predicted Stats: 25-of-40 for 245 yards, two touchdowns, one interception, and two sacks.
Dustin Keller (The X-Factor vs. Jacksonville)
Week two sees the Jets take on the Jaguars at New Meadowlands Stadium. Mark Sanchez will pick apart Jacksonville’s fifth worst passing defense in 2010.
Jacksonville gave up 250 passing yards per game and 28 touchdowns threw the air, and recorded only 26 sacks. The only team to have less sacks was Denver with 26. Despite Jacksonville’s need for a pass rusher, the team has not addressed their needs and will likely be among the league’s worst against the pass in 2011. Defensive end Aaron Kampman is returning from a torn ACL and probably won’t be back to his normal self this early in the season.
Mark Sanchez will throw often in this game and he will have plenty of time in the pocket to find his receivers. Dustin Keller will be a huge threat in this game against a Jaguars team that has issues at safety. Sanchez will have more success throwing the ball down the field week two on his way to a big game versus the Jaguars.
Predicted Stats: 25-of-35 for 275 yards, three touchdowns, and 10 rushing yards.
The Jets will travel across the country to take on the Oakland Raiders in a week three matchup at the Coliseum. Last time the Jets visited Oakland, they dominated the Raiders in a 38-0 rout which featured the famous hotdog eating incident involving Mark Sanchez in the closing minutes of the game back in 2009.
Since then, the Raiders have gotten better on defense. Week three should not be a repeat of the game back in 2009 in which Sanchez only went 9 for 15 for 143 yards with no interceptions. Oakland was among the best defenses in 2010, finishing as the second best defense against the pass. The Raiders defense gave up only 189 passing yards per game, sacked the quarterback 47 times, and recorded 12 interceptions. If star cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha returns to Oakland, they should be a great pass defense in 2011.
Although the Raiders had so much success containing quarterbacks last season, it was the exact opposite for them in the running game. Oakland was the fourth worst rushing defense giving up 133 yards per game.
Expect the Jets to lean heavily on Shonn Greene and the running game as Rex Ryan will look to limit Sanchez in the passing game to avoid costly turnovers. This will not be a particularly impressive day for the Jets quarterback. His stats will not stand up but he will do enough to help the team win the game.
Predicted Stats: 15-of-25 for 180 yards, a touchdown, and a sack.
The Baltimore Ravens always pose a tough challenge for opposing quarterbacks. Mark Sanchez, like many other quarterbacks, has had trouble against the likes of Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Haloti Ngata, and Terrell Suggs whether it has been in the preseason or during the regular season.
Last time both teams met, Sanchez only completed 10 of 21 passes for 74 yards in a disappointing 10-9 loss on Monday Night Football to begin the season. The Jets put the shackles on Sanchez who attempted the lowest number of passes all season. Throughout the game he frequently checked down to his second and third options on passing plays. Incredibly, his longest pass went for 13 yards.
It has been a very long time since week one last season, so don’t expect anything close to this kind of performance from Sanchez in 2011. The Jets will take the shackles off of Sanchez and they will let him loose, but Sanchez will play smart.
Baltimore finished last season fifth in rushing defense, but their pass defense ranked 21st allowing 22 passing touchdowns and 225 yards per game through the air. This is a dominant run-stopping defense with 300-pounder Haloti Ngata clogging the middle, so the Jets will pass more this time around versus the Ravens.
Sanchez will have a tough time against Ed Reed but will find space on the outside against Baltimore’s cornerbacks.
Predicted Stats: 15-of-30 for 185 yards, one touchdown, two sacks, two interceptions, and 10 rushing yards.
Sanchez faced the Patriots three times last season and was up and down. Playing at Gillette Stadium twice, he threw for 164 yards with three interceptions in week 13, and threw for 194 yards with three touchdowns in the Divisional Playoff game.
New England’s defense in 2010 was nowhere near what it was during their dynasty and it cost them greatly. The Patriots finished as the third worst pass defense, allowing 259 yards per game and 25 touchdowns. One thing that saved them, however, was a league-leading 25 interceptions.
Sanchez will have to contend with Devin McCourty and rookie Ras-I Dowling in the secondary, which could be a tough task. He will utilize Dustin Keller’s strength and size down the field to pick up first downs on third down.
Predicted Stats: 20-of-35 for 250 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception.
The Jets have always had a tough time against their bitter AFC East rivals, the Miami Dolphins. Week six at home should be a challenge for the Jets quarterback on Monday Night Football.
Miami’s pass defense is stingy and can be tough to break down. The Dolphins finished eighth in pass defense and also finished seventh in rushing defense. Miami seems to always give something extra when they play the Jets.
One of the worst games of Sanchez’s career came at home against this very team in a windy Giants Stadium. The week six game in 2011 will be another low-scoring affair in which Sanchez will struggle a bit.
He will have to deal with young defensive lineman Randy Starks, and linebacker Cameron Wake, and will have to avoid the pressure from the Dolphins defense which had 39 sacks a season ago. In last year’s meeting between both teams in New Jersey, Sanchez went 17 for 44 with 216 yards and an interception in a 10-6 loss. This year should be a better experience for number six of the Jets.
Predicted Stats: 20-of-40 for 220 yards, one touchdown, 15 rushing yards, two sacks, and one interception.
The San Diego Chargers will come east for a battle with the Jets. The cross-country trip won’t affect them too much as San Diego was the best pass defense and fourth best rushing defense in 2010. San Diego had 47 sacks, gave up only 18 passing touchdowns, recorded 16 interceptions, and only allowed 178 passing yards per game all of last season.
Sanchez only faced the Chargers once before in the playoffs of his rookie season and he had 100 yards on 12 completions with a touchdown and an interception. The Jets relied heavily on the running game that day and they will do the same in week seven of the 2011 NFL season.
Sanchez won’t attempt that many passes this game and when he does drop back, he will need to get rid of it quickly before the speed of the Chargers’ defense causes problems. He might even scramble for some yards if the pressure is getting to him.
Predicted Stats: 15-of-25 for 170 yards, no touchdowns, 20 rushing yards, two sacks, and one interception.
Sanchez and the Jets will get a well-deserved week off to recover from injuries and to prepare for the Buffalo Bills in a week nine matchup on the road. With seven games under his belt, Sanchez will be 135-of-230 with 10 touchdowns, 1,420 passing yards, six interceptions, nine sacks, and 55 rushing yards.
If this year’s matchup against the Buffalo Bills on the road is anything like last year’s, it will be easy pickings for Mark Sanchez and the New York Jets. Anything the Jets wanted to do, they did. The running game shredded the Bills defense, and the passing game was successful for Sanchez. The Sanchize went 14 for 24 for 161 yards and two touchdowns. The blowout game resulted in the running backs getting a lot of carries late in the game, so Sanchez could have racked up even more yardage.
Despite the fact that the Jets offense erupted against the Bills defense in week four last season, the Bills were the league’s third best pass defense. What did them in, however, was being the worst rushing defense in the NFL.
Two players Sanchez has to worry about are Paul Posluszsny (given that he stays with the Bills), and Donte Whitner. Both finished top five in tackles last season.
Expect Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson to get the bulk of the action against a weak run-stopping defense. Sanchez will have an efficient game but he won’t be spectacular.
Predicted Stats: 15-of-25 for 195 yards, one touchdown, and one sack.
Games between the Jets and Patriots used to be low-scoring games featuring good defensive performances. But the last season, the three games between these two teams resulted in shootouts between Tom Brady and Mark Sanchez.
The crowd at New Meadowlands Stadium will be as loud as ever against Brady, Bellichick, and the hated Patriots. Rex Ryan doesn’t need to call Jets fans personally again to tell them they have to be loud.
This matchup will be similar to the one from week five which means Sanchez will play well. He will again exploit the Patriots’ pass defense and buy time in the pocket to find receivers for long passes down the field.
One of the problems New England faced was one that the Jets also dealt with in 2010. The Patriots were not a very good pass rushing team and this gave opposing quarterbacks too much time to throw. So Sanchez might even break off some runs on his own if he can’t find anyone downfield.
Predicted Stats: 20-of-35 for 240 yards, two touchdowns, one interception, one sack, and 20 rushing yards.
Thanksgiving night should be an interesting game between the Jets and Broncos. Last time both teams met, New York scored a touchdown with 1:13 remaining to stun the Denver faithful. Aided by a defensive pass interference call on Santonio Holmes, Sanchez led his team 80 yards down the field to pick up the win.
In 2011, the Broncos defense which struggled last season will get some help. Their best pass rusher Elvis Dumervil will return from injury, and the Broncos’ first round pick Von Miller will spark the defense. Denver will surely improve their sack total which was last in the NFL a season ago. They should be tougher against the passing game, and better against the run this season.
There is no hiding the fact that Denver’s defense was their biggest problem last year. They will need to play a lot better if they want to make the playoffs.
Sanchez will face pressure from Dumervil and Miller, and will use his running backs in the passing game. Champ Bailey is still a threat in the Denver secondary, so the quarterback will have to look away from him. Regardless, I still see this defense as vulnerable, especially to the run.
Predicted Stats: 25-of-35 for 280 yards, two touchdowns, one interception, two sacks, and 15 rushing yards.
The second meeting between these teams will be similar to the first. New York will control the game by running the ball and taking time off of the clock. This is a game in which Sanchez needs to protect the ball and find a way to throw the ball through the swirling winds in the Meadowlands.
Rex Ryan will likely use the wildcat formation either with Brad Smith, or rookie Jeremy Kerley, to disrupt the Bills’ timing on defense. The Jets will try to find a way to avoid Whitner and Posluszny by putting men in motion and using trickery.
Sanchez didn’t even play the final game of the season against Buffalo in 2010, yet the Jets offense dominated. It can’t go unnoticed, though, that the Bills have some young and talented players. Of the nine draft picks the Bills had, they spent seven of them on the defensive side. The number three pick of the draft, Marcell Dareus will get accustomed to the league and will a force in the running game
The Jets might be best suited to go to the air if they want to get the same result against the Bills at home as they did last year.
Predicted Stats: 20-of-40 for 215 yards, one touchdown, and two sacks.
The Albert Haynesworth experiment failed miserably along with the Washington Redskins’ defense which finished 31st overall. Washington was dreadful against the passing game, giving up 262 yards per game, 23 touchdowns, and only sacked the opposing quarterback 29 times.
The Redskins were a fraction better against the run, giving up 127 yards per game on the ground, and 15 rushing touchdowns in 2010.
Washington had an incredible twelve picks in the 2011 which were used the sure up the defense. Washington first round pick Ryan Kerrigan should become a solid linebacker in a few years, but the fact of the matter is that the Redskins defense will be young and inexperienced in 2011.
Sanchez will have to be careful throwing to DeAngelo Hall, but I don’t see this matchup to be a particularly difficult one for the Jets quarterback. He will have a lot of success in this game as well as the running game of the New York Jets.
Predicted Stats: 20-of-35 for 250 yards, two touchdowns, and 15 rushing yards.
The Kansas City Chiefs are a tough team to play at noisy Arrowhead Stadium. Fortunately, the Jets get to play them at home in front of fireman Ed and 82,000 Jets fanatics.
Kansas City is a mediocre team on defense and a good matchup for the Jets offense. The Chiefs gave up 23 passing touchdowns, 220 passing yards per game, and 20 points per game. They weren’t much better against the run giving up 110 yards per game on the ground last season.
Sanchez will have to find away to escape the pressure of last year’s AFC sack leader Tamba Hali. No one else on the Kansas City defense really stands out as the Jets can mix up their play calling any way they choose. Brian Schottenheimer will call running plays 50 percent of the time and passing plays the other 50 percent of the time in an equally balanced offensive game for the Jets.
Sanchez will perform well in a game where the Jets will dominate most of the possession.
Predicted Stats: 15-of-25 for 215 yards, one touchdown, and one sack.
The Eagles have one of the best offenses in the league with Michael Vick, but their defense was middle of the road last year. They outscored teams rather than playing lockdown defense, and I see the same thing happening in the week 15 matchup between the Jets and Eagles in Philadelphia.
With all of the talk of Sanchez not playing in cold weather, he sure has not been fazed by the winter elements. If you recall, he led his team to a memorable win in the playoffs versus New England in frigid temperature. He also played well in the regular season in Pittsburgh despite the freezing temperature. This game in Philadelphia shouldn’t hold him back.
Sanchez will have to keep an eye out for Asante Samuel who has terrorized quarterbacks over the years. Samuel had seven interceptions and is actively involved in every game he plays. Sanchez will have success in the passing game and will need to protect the football on the road.
Predicted Stats: 20-of-30 for 240 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception.
Christmas Eve will be a special day in New York because the New York Jets take on the New York Giants. New York bragging rights are up for grabs in this game which no team wants to lose. There is a rivalry that exists between both teams even though they aren’t even in the same conference. It might even be true that the fans will actually be more excited for this game than the players.
It will be a very exciting game predicated on good hard-nosed defense by both team as both teams were top 10 defenses last season. The Giants defense had a knack for knocking quarterbacks in 2010. The list includes Tony Romo, Jay Cutler, Todd Collins, Matt Moore, Shaun Hill, Drew Stanton, and Tarvaris Jackson.
Mark Sanchez will hope not to be added to the list when he goes up against the scary Giants defense. Not only does Big Blue have a great defensive line consisting of Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, Jason Pierre-Paul, Chris Canty, Barry, and Linval Joseph, but they also have a great secondary of players like Antrel Rolle, Terrell Thomas, Corey Webster, Kenny Phillips, and now Prince Amukamara.
It is going to be a really tough game for Sanchez and the Jets offense. He will be under constant pressure and his receivers will have a tough time getting separation against the Giants’ secondary.
Predicted Stats: 15-of-35 for 150 yards, no touchdowns, two interceptions, three sacks, and 15 rushing yards.
Sanchez on bench
If all goes well, the last game of the season against the Dolphins in Miami should be meaningless for the Jets. The Jets will already have their tickets punched for the postseason, so this game will mainly feature New York’s backups.
Kellen Clemens or Greg McElroy will get the bulk of the playing time as Sanchez will only see limited action in the first couple of quarters. He might just go into the game to hand the ball off to his running backs to avoid taking hits.
In a similar situation the last week of the season last year, the Jets clinched a playoff berth and sat most of their starters including Sanchez at home against the Bills. Rex Ryan will protect his young quarterback from injury and give him some rest before a grueling postseason.
Predicted Stats: 4-of-5 for 65 yards, and no touchdowns.
Mark Sanchez will take a huge step forward on his way to becoming one of the NFL’s elite quarterbacks. As Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Donovan McNabb get up there in age; Mark Sanchez will be part of the next generation of elite quarterbacks including Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, and Aaron Rodgers.
Sanchez will become the leader of the Jets offense and will improve on his 2010 season. He will finish the 2011 regular season 289-of-495 with 3,375 passing yards, 21 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, 19 sacks, and 120 rushing yards