2011 NFL Predictions: 5 Reasons Mark Sanchez Will Lead the Jets to a Super Bowl
With stiff competition even in their own division, the Jets could struggle to even make the playoffs, especially considering the number of key players they lost in free agency.
Fortunately, with the addition of Plaxico Burress and the re-signing of Santonio Holmes, the Jets offense will likely have taken a step forward from last season.
Young gun QB Mark Sanchez has received plenty of criticism for his accuracy and mental toughness, but his leadership ability has never been in question.
Here are five reasons why Sanchez will lead the Jets to a Super Bowl.
Emotional Leader of the Team
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If there's anything Mark Sanchez has, it's the trust of his teammates.
After his rookie season, Sanchez organized a camp for high-schoolers in his native California. Jets West, as it is called, featured many veteran players from the Jets who ran the camp at the request of their young QB.
The then-22-year-old quarterback showed some real leadership ability by convincing his elder teammates to work for his cause.
This kind of leadership transfers to the field where Sanchez is really able to take charge, even if he has some work to do during the play.
As long as Sanchez has the trust of his teammates, the Jets' playoff hopes and their road to a Super Bowl is still intact.
Has Rex Ryan's Confidence
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It's always comforting for an quarterback to have the confidence of the head coach. If you know the organization's leadership has trust in you, you will likely have a much higher rate of success.
Rex Ryan, with the colorful personality he has, gave his QB the nickname "Sanchize," noting that Sanchez is the team's franchise quarterback and is a leader on the team.
The relationship that Sanchez has with his head coach often results in good production for the team. Because Sanchez is comfortable in the situation he's in, he plays at a higher level, even if he has an issue with interceptions.
Because Sanchez knows that he's "the guy," he only needs to worry about winning ball games, which will make the road to a Super Bowl that much easier.
Comfortable in New York
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Sanchez also seems to have become comfortable with the demanding New York media. He has received some criticism, but has shown poise with the media in post-game interviews and off the field. He has offered no backlash toward any of his critics.
Sanchez seems to show poise in the big city where being in the spotlight means you are really in the spotlight. Handling this kind of pressure will transfer over to playing on football's biggest stage.
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In his two years as the Jets' starting QB, Sanchez has not only brought his team to the playoffs both years, but has brought them to two consecutive AFC Championship games.
When you consider that the Jets only have three AFC Championship game appearances in franchise history, that is pretty impressive for such a young quarterback.
Because of his playoff track record, Sanchez is tied with four other QBs for the most postseason road victories in NFL history.
With the ways Sanchez has been able to succeed and go deep into the postseason, it seems likely that he will be able to do it again. The question will be whether or not his teammates can play to that high level as well.
Improving Statistical Trends
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The one thing that people criticize Sanchez for the most is his accuracy. In two seasons with the Jets, he's thrown 29 touchdowns and 33 interceptions—a really ugly statistic if you ask most analysts.
As is hoped for any QB, Sanchez improved in every statistical category in 2010 over a tough 2009 season. Perhaps the most comforting of those statistics is a significant drop in interceptions and an equal rise in touchdowns and yards per game.
If Sanchez continues to improve at the rate he has already, the Jets' offense will have no problem moving the ball and putting points on the board.
The Jets' stout defense, in combination with the high-powered offense led by now-veteran Mark Sanchez, will surely earn New York another playoff berth. Sanchez has the tools to lead the Jets to another AFC Championship game or even possibly a Super Bowl, but his teammates will have to step up as well.
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