Mark Sanchez: One Good Game, But Sanchez Still Has Much To Prove

Coverin' The SpreadCorrespondent ISeptember 20, 2010

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 19:  Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York Jets celebrates a touchdown against the New England Patriots during their  game on September 19, 2010 at the New Meadowlands Stadium  in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

I have slammed Mark Sanchez and the Jets’ offense throughout the preseason and all week long following their 176 yard, zero touchdown performance versus the Ravens in New York’s home opener.

I have used terms such as “pathetic”, “scared”, and even referred to the Sanchez-lead offense as “JV”. I have had more rough things to say about this big-name, big-mouthed offense than even Ray Lewis. I recently advised the Gang Green O to get used to sticking their foot in their mouth assuming games like the Baltimore opener would recur frequently throughout the 16 game season.

Now I am the one sticking my foot in my mouth, at least for the next few paragraphs.

Mark Sanchez was nothing short of brilliant Sunday when his team needed him the most. Facing the the one team that Rex Ryan’s club has been talking about beating since Ryan’s introduction as head coach, Sanchez had the best game of his young career and lead the Jets to a second half drumming of the New England Patriots.

Down 14-7 with 53 seconds left on the first half clock, Sanchez lead the Jets offense on a quick, 48-yard, seven play drive that resulted in a Nick Folk field goal.

That was just the confidence and momentum Sanchez would need the rest of the way as his offense put up 21 unanswered points to send Tom Brady and the Pats back to Foxboro in defeat.

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

After gaining only six first downs a week ago vs. Baltimore, the Jets offense moved the chains 23 times on Sunday, something that looked impossible in the first quarter.

In a period dominated by the Pats, Sanchez’s offense had just one possession, a three-and-out that lasted 63 seconds and included a Sanchez interception that was eventually overturned and ruled as an incompletion. After the first period, Sanchez was almost flawless going 21-28 for 220 yards with three scores and no turnovers.

On Sunday Mark Sanchez seemed to grow up. He had career highs in touchdowns and passer rating and actually looked like a Super Bowl contending quarterback. He not only moved the Jets up and down the field for touchdowns but he was in command of his offense and was the leader that the Jets coaching staff has urged him to be.

Good for Mark Sanchez. Now we’ll see if he can be consistent.

Sanchez has had only one instance in his career in which he has had back-to-back games with a passer rating of 85 or better. It isn’t rare for a 23-year-old pro quarterback to be inconsistent. Not in the least bit. For a team though with expectations as high as the New York skyline, this is a problem.

If you are going to talk the talk, you must walk the walk. CB Antonio Cromartie dubbed his Jets “the Miami Heat of football” and Mr. Sanchez said the Gang Green were “building a dream team”.

I said in my last article that if the Jets were building a dream team than they have J.J. Redick as their point guard. After Sunday’s performance, I’ll bump Sanchez up a notch from J.J. Reddick to let’s say a Nate Robinson.

If Mark Sanchez is ever going to be the Rajon Rondo the Jets need him to be around all of these stars, than he will have to learn to be consistent.

A 124 passer rating and three touchdowns is a great game but it’s just one game. I mean even JaMarcus Russell had three games of 110+ QB rating in his first full season as a starter.

One game is one game. Even after arguably the best game of his career, Sanchez only averages 5.8 yards per attempt for the season, ranking him 26th in the league. All three of his touchdown passes Sunday were inside the 10 yard line and he still has yet to complete a pass of more than 13 yards to a wide receiver this season.

Mark Sanchez is supposed to lead the Jets to the Super Bowl, yet in 20 career starts he has not had one single 300 yard performance, period. So far in 2010 there have already been nine different 300 yard passing performances in the NFL and Drew Brees’ Saints kickoff in about two hours to try and make it 10.

To all the Jets fans out there: Yes, I know your team is built around running the football and playing defense and yes I know that Santonio Holmes joins the lineup in week five. That being said, there will come a time when the Jets’ D is unable to suffocate the opposing offense and Sanchez will be forced to carry the team to victory. When that day comes, even Jets fans will be biting their nails every time their golden boy quarterback drops back to pass.

The last three Super Bowls have featured six different quarterbacks in Roethelisberger, Warner, Brady, Brees, and the Manning brothers. In 2009 all six of them averaged over 250 passing yards a game. In 20 starts, Mark Sanchez has thrown for 250 yards just three times and only in his first career start did he get the victory.

The NFL is a different game now. The NFL is a quarterback driven league where the passing game reigns supreme. Winning three or four playoff games in a row without a star under center seems almost impossible nowadays. Out of the 11 Super Bowls so far this century, only the ’07 Bears and ’08 Giants made the Super Bowl without having a pro bowler at quarterback.

Sure the Jets came close to reaching the Super Bowl last season without a Pro Bowl QB. At the same time if Indianapolis doesn’t yank their starters in the second half in week 16, the Jets would have been 8-8 and would have watched the playoffs from their couches.

The Super Bowl talk has resumed in New York once again after a six day hiatus. The running game and the defense Sunday were their same old dominant selves and the play the Jets received from their quarterback made all of this self-proclaimed hype seem somewhat legitimate.

Mark Sanchez played well yesterday there’s no doubt about it. Whether or not he can string this success together over a few games in a row is a different subject.

New York may be crowning you right now Mark, but to the rest of the league you are still just a 23-year-old kid with a whole lot to prove.