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New York Jets’ Mark Sanchez Flying Under the Radar: Ready for Takeoff?

May 21st, 2012 at 2:02 PM
By Donald Lappe

New York Jets quarterback mark Sanchez is firmly entrenched as the starting quarterback, but he's not the most talked about quarterback on the team. That title belongs to backup quarterback and wildcat operator Tim Tebow. Sanchez isn't being talked about much in Jets-centric conversations, unless it's a Tebow-Sanchez story. As you can guess, that means he's being talked about even less in general NFL discussions. It's safe to say Mark Sanchez is flying under the radar – is he ready to have a breakout season?

'I'm just gonna dance right over there, and tackle your ass...' photo (c) 2009, Ed Yourdon - license:

More important than who is and who isn't talking about him, New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez is back in an offense that plays to his strengths. Everyone is hung up on "Ground and Pound," and the Jets will definitely run the ball more this season. What's even more important to Sanchez's success this season than the amount of passes thrown is the type of passing game the Jets will use.

Tony Sparano wants to get vertical. He said it when he took over as Jets offensive coordinator and the Jets backed up that talk when they traded up in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft to select Stephen Hill of Georgia Tech. Hill is a tall, speedy deep threat who will stretch the field.

And that's exactly what the Jets didn't do in 2011.

While Brian Schottenheimer took a ton of blame for it, much of that deserved, the personnel also played a role. Plaxico Burress could not stretch the field across from Santonio Holmes, which allowed teams to play their safeties close to the line of scrimmage – a huge issue for the running game and the short passing game, flooding the field with defenders and closing down the open windows.

A commitment to the running game was also missing in 2011. The 2009 and 2010 Jets were committed running teams that took deep shots in the passing game. Then the NFL Lockout hit, personnel changed, and the Jets tried to be something completely different in 2011.

In 2012 the Jets will be committed to the run once again. They will look to set the tone physically right away and force teams to play close to the line of scrimmage – then make them pay for it. A successful ground attack will open up the play action passing game, which will include rollouts and bootlegs to make use of Mark Sanchez's athleticism.

And it will include deep throws. Which is something Mark Sanchez does well.

Instead of making Sanchez command an extremely precise, high volume short passing game, he will be allowed to let it fly downfield. For a quarterback yet to complete 60% of his passes in a season, that's a much better fit.

So let everyone else talk about Tim Tebow or Ryan Fitzpatrick or whatever they're talking about. Let them forget about Sanchez. Let him fly under the radar and get to work on learning Tony Sparano's offense. Sanchez has been very quiet this offseason, which he should be. He's working and trying to get better.

But don't be surprised when he makes a lot more noise on the field in 2012.


Tags: 2012 NFL Draft, Brian Schottenheimer, Football, Mark Sanchez, New York, New York Jets, NFL, Santonio Holmes, Stephen Hill, Tim Tebow, Tony Sparano

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