Or How I Learned Not To Worry About Preseason
There's been a lot of talk about Mark Sanchez and his struggles this preseason. I think the problem consists of a lot of us imagining a great passing game with the addition of Santonio Holmes. Passing is always sexier then running, and who doesn't want to imagine this great Jets defense combined with an offense as good as the 07 Patriots. But with only a handful of college starts, and 15 pro starts, it's still going to be a rough learning curve for the youngster.
Does that mean the Jets can't make the Super Bowl? No, not at all. Now I don't particularly like lil Schotty, but the additions of Holmes and Ladamian Tomilison are extremely important to this offense. Last season the Jets were in the top ten of Time Of Possession. At the same time they were in the bottom ten in first downs, and that was buoyed by the Jets being ranked 1st in the league in Rushing First Downs. This means that when the Jets were forced into Third and Long there really wasn't much hope for the first down
Sanchez's situational stats show just as much.
At 3rd and within 3 yards the Jets rarely used him, as he went 8 for 13 for 92 yards and 7.1 yards an attempt
At 3rd and 3-7 Yards he was 34 for 69 378 yards, 5.5 Y/A and 2 TDs
At 3rd and 8-10 Yards he was 15 for 29 162 yards, 5.6 Y/A 1 TD and 3 INTs
At 3rd and Greater then 11 Yards he was 13 of 26 165 yards, 6.3 Y/A 0 TDs and 3 INTs
Which is something Jets fans already know, that Sanchez throwing into prepared coverage isn't pretty. Not only that, but a good amount of the time Sanchez failed to gain enough yards for the first anyway. He also only managed to get a reception half the time, meaning that letting Sanchez pass on third you had a 50/50 chance of not only not getting the first but that Sanchez would stop the clock. Which is why the Jets seemed to run often on third down, as at the very least it ate up another 30-40 seconds from game time.
This my fellow Jets fans is where LaDamian Tomilison and Santonio Holmes both step in and give us hope for this season. For it is all going to be about Time Of Possession and the Ground and Pound again with some slight modifications. The difference between a three and out and a drive that at least gets one first down is a huge one for the Jets. Your not only talking about the improved field position (moving the chains at least 10 yards) but it's giving your defense another two minutes of so of rest while keeping their offense off the field for that much longer. Now on third down and long teams can no longer force Sanchez to just throw underneath and make a play. Holmes does not just have a history of making tough yards after the catch (6.5 YAC last season, 5.7 career) but of being someone who can get the first down (63 First Downs on 79 Receptions last season, 186 First Downs on 235 Receptions career).
At only 20 Catches for 154 yards last season, it was a down season for Tomilison. Even so his 20 catches would have been enough for fourth on the team and his reception yards would have been fifth behind Clowney. Everyone knows Tomilison won't be the force he once was running the ball, but that doesn't really matter to the Jets. What the Jets need out of him is close to his career average of reception and receiving yards, which is close to 50 receptions and 400 yards. Giving Sanchez an outlet back like LDT for when teams stuff the box or try to blitz him to disrupt him is important. Not only that but LDT can also be tough to bring down, averaging nearly 9 yards after the catch on his career.
So it probably won't be a season of Sanchez going long and connecting on every play while our defense pulverizes the other team into the ground. It'll be a season a lot like last year, of ball control and field position. It won't be big 20 or 30 yard gains, but dink and ding and getting first downs and slowly pushing the other team until our starting field position is out of our end. It's not going to be Sanchez making huge plays, but of letting Holmes, LDT and Braylon Edwards make big plays off of Sanchez's throws. The sophmore slump is quite common, especially for QBs. But very few QBs have been given as many weapons in the short game as Sanchez, so we'll have to wait and see.