Mark Sanchez's most impressive attribute; 10 things to watch for
Before I get to my column on what
The NFL invented NFL Network to help hype its product. Think of the hype already on the table for
Now on to the column. Let's talk ball security for a few paragraphs. (Ooooh! Wheeeee! Exciting!) I maintain that's what Mark Sanchez and his offensive coordinator have been doing since he arrived in New Jersey. And it's paying off for the 2-1 Jets heading into their division game (walkover?) Sunday at Buffalo.
Over the last eight games (including playoffs), here's how the three best quarterbacks in football rank against Sanchez in terms of protecting the ball:
Think about that for a minute, a rookie quarterback in the playoff race, and then the following season, in the first three games of a highly anticipated,
"And I'd point out,'' Jets offensive coordinator
"A lot of it, quite honestly, is the ability to sit down with Mark after games and show him the result of each decision he makes in games,'' Schottenheimer said. "We all know interceptions are going to happen. But we talk about two kinds of interceptions -- bad-throw interceptions, which every quarterback who's ever played is going to have, and bad-decision interceptions. Those are the ones we've concentrated on. We put on the film and I'll show him an interception, and I'll say, 'What did you think of your decision here?' And we talk about the power of completions. It's OK to check down.''
That can be a dirty phrase -- "checking down'' to a running back -- to some quarterbacks. And at times, critics of Sanchez have thought he was doing it too much, particularly in the opener this year against Baltimore, when Sanchez steadfastly passed on throwing downfield against a weak Ravens secondary and kept throwing the ball short. But Schottenheimer won't knock him for it, and he didn't after the game, even though the Jets were terrible on offense all night and lost, 10-9.
"I'll take some of the rap for that,'' Schottenheimer said. "What happened that night is not a short answer. When you have six months to prepare for a game, sometimes you have a tendency to over-analyze. We had some calls in there where we send Mark to the line with two plays, and he runs a play dependent on what defense he sees. That didn't go too well that night. When we were analyzing the game afterward, Mark said to me, 'Hey Schotty, can we eliminate those kills?' [A 'kill' is the play you eliminate to go to the other play called.] He just wanted to have a play called and let him execute it. I said, 'Sure, Mark.' And that's what we've done.''
Schottenheimer and quarterback coach
"We did a study in the offseason looking back over the top five offenses in the league over the last five years. And we took the average number of balls the top running back for each team caught each year. The average turned out to 47, 48 catches. These are great quarterbacks -- Brady, Manning, Brees, [
"This year, we've said to him, 'You can check it down to a future Hall of Famer [
Sanchez is still working to form a bond in the pass game with Green (he's targeted him only three times), but he's thrown to Tomlinson 15 times so far -- and Tomlinson has played only about half the offensive snaps.
I expect Sanchez (six touchdowns, no picks) to be better throwing downfield when he has the twin threats of
Schottenheimer told me he estimates Sanchez has at least 90 percent of the offense down pat now. The comfort is showing. When quarterbacks are throwing touchdowns and not erring, that's comfort. It's a good sign for a team that's going to have a top-five defense, and I'd be surprised if the Jets don't make the playoffs in large part because of Sanchez's safe, and successful, play.
The 6-foot-4, 292-pound Redding and hybrid pass-rusher
A little background here. Baltimore had been disappointed with Pryce's run defense, and the Ravens got gashed by the Browns last Sunday, when Cleveland chose to run on some logical passing downs. I checked the play-by-play from the game. Cleveland ran on nine "sub'' package down-and-distance plays (second-and-eight or more, third-and-five or more).
Or it may not.
Punts fielded: 3.
In other words, I expect the Giants to kick high and out of bounds to the dangerous-again Hester, who will be well-remembered by Giant fans for his 108-yard return of a missed field goal in his last game against the Giants in New Jersey.
Zombo's zoomed past