The Jets have put a lot of expectations of this season on the shoulders of Mark Sanchez. On Sunday night, a national audience will tune in to watch Mark Sanchez open the season with a dominating performance over the Dallas Cowboys.
The Jets have lost talent since last season when the rosters are compared on paper. However, the Jets are expecting an upgrade in the form of Mark Sanchez.
The third season for a player is a telling sign of whether he has proved himself of being an above average NFL player or whether he has reached his potential.
As the Jets prepare for opening night, Sanchez has a lot on his shoulders from the first snap. This is his team, and the Jets will only go as far as Sanchez takes them.
It all starts against Dallas, and here's why Jets fans should expect Sanchez to lead the Jets to victory over the Cowboys.
Mark Sanchez is not a quarterback who will throw for 300 yards, but he was never asked to. Sanchez has been asked to come to the Jets and let the Jets' rushing attack open up the passing game. If he does not turn the ball over, the defense will be in a good position to stop the opponent's offense.
The most important part for Sanchez is to not turn the ball over. If Sanchez can lead the offense effectively in the opening game, and most importantly lead the team to a win, that will be dominating enough for Jets fans.
A completion percentage of around 60 to 65 percent would be optimal for the Jets, and 230 yards would be a good game for Sanchez, but as long as he leads the Jets to scoring opportunities and puts points on the board, especially in the red zone, where the Jets struggled last season, Jets fans should be satisfied.
Sanchez will have a dominating performance because of the following reasons.
As the Jets opened last season as the most hyped team in the NFL, the offense had one of their worst games of the season. Mark Sanchez was 10-of-21 for 74 yards against Baltimore's defense.
While Baltimore has one of the best defenses in the NFL and Santonio Holmes did not play due to suspension, Sanchez and the offense had no excuse to put on a show like that.
I would be shocked if the Jets pulled off another performance like that in an opening game this year. The offense knows the situation and certainly remembers the game against Baltimore. Fans will be reminded of it when Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth mention it after the Jets' first punt.
Sanchez will be sure to get off to a good start this season, unless the fans start to turn against him.
This season, fans better be aware that Rex Ryan will not accept that kind of performance again. The Jets cannot come into 2011 with a tough schedule and waste an opportunity at home to start the season with a winning record.
The Dallas Cowboys ended last season with the seventh worst pass defense in the NFL, while they gave up an average of 7.7 yards per completion. The Cowboys had the ninth best rush defense in the NFL last season. With the new defensive coordinator, the defense should improve.
Rob Ryan moved from Cleveland to Dallas to be under head coach Jason Garrett, who is in his first full year at the helm of the Cowboys. Ryan will be intently focused on this game against his twin brother, Jets coach Rex Ryan.
The Cowboys defense will be improved because of Rob Ryan, but on Sunday night, the cornerbacks will be exposed.
BesidesMike Jenkins, who still needs to improve, the Dallas secondary does not look strong. While Abram Elam (former Jet) has a reputation for big plays, the Jets should be able to expose the Cowboys' defense.
If the Jets can establish their pass game, this will open up the running game against the Cowboys' linebackers and defensive line.
This matchup seems to favor Sanchez and Holmes, who will have space to operate if the Cowboys' cornerbacks miss the first tackle against the elusive Holmes.
Plaxico Burress is 6'5". Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick, who are slated to be the Cowboys' top two cornerbacks, are both 5'10". With Plaxico's height, Sanchez's accuracy and red-zone efficiency should improve.
Plaxico will probably be rusty because no amount of preseason games can prepare a player who has been away from football for two seasons. He may fatigue early and be a non-factor because of his missed time.
Plaxico can have a huge impact on this game if he can play up to expectations. Having him and Holmes opposite each other at their best is a matchup which few teams can stop.
If these receivers and Sanchez can find a rhythm, they should pick apart the Dallas secondary.
The Jets defense has led them to the success they have had the last two seasons. If Sanchez did not have a stellar defense, the Jets would be a mediocre team. However, Sanchez's performance in the playoffs cannot be questioned.
No matter how good a team's running game or defense is, a quarterback in the playoffs still has to control the game.
Sanchez has done what he has been asked to do in the playoffs, and that is to not turn the ball over. Sanchez has thrown three interceptions in six career playoff games. That is what propelled the Jets over the top these past two seasons and allowed them to go to consecutive AFC Championship games.
Winning four road playoff games in two years should give Sanchez confidence that he is capable of being a top ten NFL quarterback. Wins against Tom Brady, Phillip Rivers and Peyton Manning in the playoffs should give him confidence for this season.
The fans are looking for Sanchez to become a productive quarterback in the regular season and put the team on his back. Bad games are no longer acceptable for him, fans should expect a consistent performance from him every game this season.
Sanchez was named a captain of the offense for this season, and with this means he has to be expected to carry the offense at times. In his third year, he better be ready for this challenge and step up to the plate for his team.
With the Jets being five-point favorites over Dallas this weekend, as long as Mark Sanchez is efficient, the Jets should win the game. Though Jets fans should be nervous because Dallas is a dangerous team looking to overcome a disappointing season.
Tony Romo will see his first action in a regular season game in 11 months, and the Cowboys have something to prove.
Having said this, if Sanchez can take advantage of the matchup with Dallas' secondary, the Jets should head into Week 2 with a winning record. If Sanchez fails to produce in the first game, the fans will be disappointed and angry like they were at the end of Week 1 last year.
Hopefully this year has a better outcome. Enjoy the games this weekend.
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