Forget all the hoopla about his popular teammate Tim Tebow for a second. If that’s possible.
The Jets are all-in on Mark Sanchez for a reason. The 25-year-old has been a different quarterback in the postseason, (9 TD/3 INT, 94.3 QB rating) and the Jets know the January version of Sanchez is in there somewhere.
But in the regular season, Sanchez has always been inconsistent over his first three plus seasons now and that has been evident again here in year four of his NFL career.
In Week 1, Sanchez was excellent. He completed over 70% of his passes, averaged nearly 10 yards per pass attempt, and had a 123.4 QB rating. In Week 6, more of the same. 61.1% completions, 109.0 QB rating, zero turnovers.
It’s no surprise that the Jets have won both games that Sanchez has played near-flawless football. They still have that punishing defense, even without superstar Darrelle Revis, who is lost to injury for the year.
But in the other four games the Jets have played this year, in which they’re 1-3, the Jets faced four of the better defenses in the league, and Sanchez couldn’t get out of his own way.
He completed under half his pass attempts in each of those four games, with more turnovers than touchdowns in three of them. They were lucky to win the one game they did win of those four, quite frankly.
To be fair, there are a lot of factors that have affected the Jets offense other than the play of Mark Sanchez.
Many of his receivers have been banged up most of the year. They’re still in the midst of learning a new offensive system. The offensive line play has been inconsistent, but trending upwards. Same with the running game.
The New England Patriots are still the team to beat in the AFC East. That’s understood. Rex Ryan knows that, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t think he can go toe-to-toe with Bill Belichick.
It wasn’t too long ago that Ryan, Sanchez and the Jets went into Gillette Stadium and beat the mighty Patriots, in a playoff game for all to see. And yes, with all due respect, Sanchez was the best quarterback on the field that day.
For the Jets to go into Foxboro this week and knock off the Patriots, they’ll need that January version of Sanchez to show up. He can’t do it alone, of course. But the Jets cannot do it without him.
Sanchez is the biggest X-factor in this game, for either team. The Jets will fly as far as he can pilot them.