Not the Sanchise? Patience is Becoming a Difficult Virtue
- Updated: December 9, 2011
Let me just get it off my chest. I’m starting to get more than a little frustrated with Mark Sanchez. Tomorrow night in Denver will do little to sway me one way or the other. However, I’ve tried to step back of late and really assess my thoughts on the quarterback the Jets selected with the #5 pick in the 2009 NFL draft. The thing is, I’m not quite sure where I’m landing…and therein lies the problem.
Let’s start with expectations. Rewind the clock to the spring of 2009. The Jets select Mark Sanchez and give away some to get him. The risk was fine. However, I do find the title of my first post about this new Jet to be particularly ironic in hindsight. “Sanchez is a Jet: Analysis? Gotta Have Faith…” Well, three years later “faith” has been a veritable roller coaster ride. I’ve declared #6 at hopeless cause and proclaimed he had turned the proverbial corner. I’ve thought him a star in the making and a dud fit for dumping…often in the span of a few quarters if not a handful of drives. The faith fuel tank has fluctuated to and from every mark on the gauge during Sanchez’s three seasons in green-and-white. And it’s starting to grate on my nerves.
What’s reality? Who f-in knows? Proponents will point to his team’s success during those first two seasons and his largely stellar postseason showings. Detractors will focus on the uneven play, mistakes and lack of third-year progression. So, who’s right? Probably both camps. And that is what makes him agonizing to watch. All I know for certain (I think) is that Mark Sanchez has the ability to be a successful NFL signal-caller.
There is talent in that body. He can make the throws. He can be mobile. He can lead a team. Star? Not sure. And, no, not every top 10 pick becomes an All-Pro or even a longtime starter in this League. But this is not about assessing the pick or proclaiming boom or bust. This is about what I think of Mark Sanchez right now and what it means for the Jets.
Right. So where the hell am I on this guy? Unfortunately, I’m leaning toward a conclusion that does not give me confidence. A simple realization that Mark Sanchez is very, very average…and, worse, that’s all he’ll ever be. Yet, there’s one thing that holds me back. One element gnaws at my conscience, if for no other reason beyond the fact that it clouds my judgment. Coaching. Here’s why.
I watched the 49ers-Giants game last Sunday prior to the Jets evening affair. And, call me crazy, I thought Alex Smith was extremely impressive. In fact, I was blown away. This was a quarterback who I had watched for years look utterly and completely inept. BOLD for emphasis. IN-EPT. The equivalent of a light-hitting minor leaguer trying to bat cleanup in the bigs. Yet, here was the same guy. Completely different. Competent. Confident. Executing. Helping his team win. You can’t help but credit Jim Harbaugh for that.
As a Jets fan, it was also impossible to see those performances on Sunday and not wonder. Is Schotty the X Factor? What about Cavanaugh? What happens if you have a talented kid who is failing in school? The spotlight justifiably shines on the student, but is it out of bounds to at least similarly analyze the teacher?
Sanchez has had success. It usually happens in a rather formulaic fashion. Effective run game. Play action. A degree of mobility (roll outs, multiple route options). Utilizing the tight end. High-percentage passes. It’s not the prettiest thing you’ve ever seen, but it works. When those things happen, you see 20-28, 200+ yards, a touchdown or two and no picks. Most importantly, you see wins. Take away ingredients from the recipe, and the results are immensely more unpredictable.
I wish I could say that I trust in the Jets offensive brass and that they’re putting Sanchez in position to be consistently successful. I don’t. Their weaknesses are only helping amplify Sanchez’s deficiencies. Right now, they’re stuck with each other. The Broncos have found a way to deal with a QB far more imperfect by putting in a system, albeit an absurd one, that places him and, consequently their team, with the best opportunity to win.
Maybe that’s something the Jets look into. Because the Sanchise doesn’t quite have the juice to do it on his own. That’s not the end of the world, but if Gang Green keeps following the same script it will no doubt help make my Sanchez slack further disappear until it – along with my patience – is completely out of reach.