Jets vs. Redskins: 4 Subtle Signs of Improvement Mark Sanchez Must Show

Chris Dela Rosa@chris_deezyContributor IDecember 2, 2011

Jets vs. Redskins: 4 Subtle Signs of Improvement Mark Sanchez Must Show

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    Well, Mark Sanchez hit it on the head earlier this week when he said the offense needs to improve in order for the Jets to make the playoffs.  More importantly, he needs to improve.

    Despite having some better statistics than he did last season, Sanchez still has plenty to work on.  He has weapons like Santonio Holmes, Plaxico Burress and Dustin Keller but cannot find a way to get them the ball instead of the defense.

    As an example of Sanchez's successes and failures this season, take a look at some of the numbers.  Because of a great four-touchdown performance on Sunday against the Bills, Sanchez was able to surpass the number of touchdowns he threw last season as he has thrown 18 touchdowns thus far (he threw 17 in 2010).  Meanwhile, he is very close to surpassing the number of interceptions he threw last season as he has 11 already and the magic number is 13.

    So without further ado, let's take a look at some signs of improvement Mark Sanchez must show Sunday against the Redskins.

    As always, feedback is welcome.  Enjoy!

1) Better Control of the Ball When Scrambling

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    In his three years as quarterback of the New York Jets, Mark Sanchez has done quite a bit of scrambling.  

    Now the point of bringing up Sanchez scrambling is not to say that he should stop, but rather tweak the way he does it, especially if it extends a play like the game-winning touchdown against the Bills last week.

    The big issue Sanchez has when scrambling out of the pocket is poor ball control.  Oftentimes, even when he is just trying to evade a defender, he is careless with his ball placement by holding it with one hand and making it easier for the defender to try and strip the ball.

    Sanchez has already fumbled four times this season, losing two of them.  In order to avoid many more, Sanchez needs to take better care of the ball when leaving the pocket.

2) Stop Throwing into Crowds

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    If Mark Sanchez is not careful, then more cornerbacks like Drayton Florence (photo) will be celebrating after intercepting Sanchez.

    Trying to force the ball into tough situations where receivers are covered by more than one person has been a problem of Sanchez's since his rookie days.  Now that the Jets look to let him throw a lot more, this problem has become a lot more evident.

    For example, on the interception Florence was celebrating about on Sunday, Sanchez was trying to get the ball to Santonio Holmes, who was surrounded by three Bills.  It was 2nd-and-8, but because there were no other receivers, Sanchez could not throw the ball away.  Overall, it was a poor play call since there was no backup in case there was no open receiver for Sanchez to throw to.  It was also a poor decision by Sanchez to even attempt the throw when his receiver was obviously covered.

    This interception set up the Steve Johnson touchdown that gave the Bills the lead late in the second quarter, which the Jets would later erase by scoring a touchdown of their own a minute later.

    Go here to watch the interception.

3) Hit Open Receivers

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    Mark Sanchez's inability to hit his receivers when they are open has been a big issue he has had to battle for the last few years.

    The most recent horrific pass came against the Bills when Mark Sanchez had Santonio Holmes running a drive route over the middle.  Holmes crossed the middle without a defender in sight, and Sanchez decided to throw behind Holmes, causing an incompletion and turning what could have been a nice 5-7 yard gain into an incompletion.

    It is those kind of simple plays that could really hurt the Jets down the line against better defenses.  As quarterback, Sanchez's job is to get the ball to the receivers when they are open.  If he cannot do that, then I do not know if he should be trusted as the starting quarterback after this season.

4) Completion of Early Passes

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    Mark Sanchez has had plenty of trouble getting his team started in the first quarter.  And in almost each game where Sanchez has slow start, it persists until around the third quarter.

    Don't believe me?  Let's take a look at the stats.

    In the first quarter, Sanchez has the greatest percentage of completed passes but that could also be because he and his offense do not have the ball as long as they do in the other quarters because of turnovers.

    In the first quarter, Mark Sanchez has already thrown four interceptions, while only throwing one touchdown pass. 

    It is understandable that the offensive line and Mark Sanchez may have some trouble at the beginning of the game, but they need to work out their issues and pick up blitzes a lot better early on in the game.  In the first quarter alone, Sanchez has been sacked nine times.

    With better synergy between him and his offensive line, and hopefully some better reads from Sanchez, he should be able to start off against the Redskins better than he has against teams like the Ravens or New England.