Since being drafted to the New York Jets in 2009, 24-year-old Mark Sanchez has had to deal with constant criticism, no matter how successful he has been in his first three years in the NFL. Sure, the media and other people in and around the NFL can be harsh, but does Sanchez really deserve it?
The way Sanchez has been treated over the last three years is enough to make any normal person go insane as he is constantly under the spotlight, and when anything goes wrong, he pays for it. For example, between Weeks 3 and 5, when the Jets were on their three-game losing streak, Sanchez faced criticism from Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath.
“I can understand why he'd criticize the team like that, and I kind of see where he's coming from as an outsider perspective, but at the same time you have to understand: In this building, these guys prepare their tail off," Sanchez said (via Rich Cimini, ESPN New York).
This response to harsh criticism was one of many by Sanchez. Although he may do GQ photo shoots Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers deems “embarrassing,” Sanchez is truly a good guy. Just last year Sanchez formed a relationship with a very young fan that was battling rhabdomyosarcoma, which caused a tumor to spread throughout his body. Unlike most athletes who would just make guest appearances and never speak to the child again, Sanchez gave young Aiden Binkley his phone number and the two had conversations periodically leading up to Binkley’s death a few weeks after the two met.
Being a nice guy is not the only reason why Sanchez-haters should cease fire; he has performed relatively well on the field this season. Aside from the loss against Baltimore, Sanchez’s play has been of a high quality and consistent. Starting with the game against Dallas, Sanchez has had a quarterback rating higher than 85 in every game (except for the loss against the Ravens).
One of the arguments against Sanchez is that his touchdown-to-interception ratio (13:7) is too high. Something these people fail to address, though, is that Sanchez only needs five more touchdown passes to surpass the amount he threw last year, and although he has seven interceptions, they are not because of his ability to pass, they come from poor judgment and confidence in his passes. A lot of time when Sanchez throws an interception, he is trying to force the ball into a crowded area so that his receivers can make plays. This happened against Buffalo when he overthrew Dustin Keller in the end zone when trying to finish a 95-yard drive. With some help from the coaching staff on reading the defense, Sanchez’s interception problems should be a thing in the past and nothing significant to worry about.
When it comes to skills, Sanchez is practically perfect for the Jets offense. Something Phil Simms and Jim Nantz comment on each game when the Jets play on CBS is Sanchez’s large hands. To most people it would seem weird that they are talking about his hands, rather than talking about his throwing ability or how he moves in the pocket, but his hands play a very crucial role in the Jets offense. Because the Jets like to focus on the ground-and-pound style when on offense, using play-action helps them spread the field; Sanchez’s big hands when they do play-action allows him to sell the play-fake really well, which gives him some time to find his favorite target Keller downfield, who is a usual suspect when the Jets use play-action fakes.
Not only can Sanchez sell the run well and throw it downfield, he can have great accuracy. This accuracy helped the Jets come back against the Texans last year when he threw a deep bomb to Braylon Edwards, which set up Santonio Holmes for a catch in the corner of the end zone (similar to the one he had in Super Bowl 43). In 2011, Sanchez’s accuracy has been all right, he has two games with completion percentages over 70 percent, but only has two other games with completion percentages over 60.
In order to become a better quarterback, Sanchez just need some tweaks that will keep him from throwing interceptions or making bad decision, but all in all, Sanchez has the talent and drive to be a great quarterback in the coming years. The young man has already established himself as a player that is clutch and can perform in the playoffs, so to all you Sanchez-haters reading this, lay off the kid.