Monday, September 26, 2011

JETS SANCHEZ IS NO LONGER JUST A CO-PILOT

How's it feel being a number one pick Mark Sanchez? If you thought the pressure you had on your shoulders was at an elevated rate; oh, say 'orange' on the now defunct Homeland Security scale, it's quickly rising to bright red on the Rex Ryan scale.

(photo courtesy of Associated Press)
Like it or not, two things aren't happening for the Jets. The first is that the Jets offensive line, now without retired guard Alan Faneca and injured center Nick Mangold, is not opening the kind of lanes up they did the last two years when the Jets were the leading offense in rushing attempts by nearly 100. Because of this, the number of rushing attempts is decreasing as is their yards per carry. Two years ago, the Jets rushing offense averaged 4.5 yards per carry in over 600 attempts. Last year, it was pretty much the same at 4.4, but the number of carries decreased by 63 attempts. This year, the Jets are averaging 3.4 yards per carry and are tied for 24th in attempts with just 73 over three games.

Second, Shonn Greene isn't able to take things to a second level after being hit at the first level. His 3.3 yards per carry not only isn't getting it done, it's actually trailing veteran LaDainian Tomlinson, who is managing 3.6 per carry.

Sanchez gave us a peek of what he's capable with a gorgeous fourth quarter red zone toss to Plaxico Burress who was under tight coverage, and nearly became the hero with a 4th down end zone run where he sacrificed his body but just fell short on the one yard line. The Jets are now ranked 10th in passing offense, and 25th in rushing offense, a complete polar turnaround to the last couple of years. It isn't going to reverse course.

The next three weeks the Jets face Baltimore, New England and Miami. Those games are followed by San Diego, the Bye week and Buffalo. Only Buffalo isn't a top twenty rushing defense right now. At present, only San Diego is a top ten passing defense.

There is some 'marked' improvement in the 2011 Mark Sanchez .  He has completed 63 percent of his passes, up by almost 10 percent since his rookie season in 2009. His yards per attempt is nearly 8 (7.98 to be exact), up by over a yard per pass since last year. His QB rating is over 90. The Jets are having their identity questioned, but the truth is, they didn't draft Mark Sanchez with their first pick and fifth overall to be a game manager.  They drafted him to lead them, particularly as he moved forward in experience and adversity struck.  Well, adversity has struck in the form of some flat tires known as the Jets running game. The identity of this Jets team is heading in the direction it was supposed to the moment New York traded up to grab their top choice as QB.  It's time for Rex Ryan to hand Mark Sanchez the pilot's seat and see if this five-year, $60 million prospect can fly.