Earlier today I discussed how part of winning the AFC East is out of the Jets' hands. If the Pats roll off another 14-2 year, it will be tough. One thing is within the Jets' control, though. Mark Sanchez needs to step up his game.
The Jets have talent across the board. The past two years, they have had top rated defenses and running games. What has held them back in the regular season has been quarterback play. That is not a knock on Sanchez. A quarterback placed on a win now team at the start of his career has every excuse. Sanchez has been instrumental in making clutch plays in wins and has come up big in the Playoffs.
For the Jets to have a big enough regular season, Sanchez needs to elevate his game and play with more consistency. Sanchez hit under 50% of his passes in three of the team's five regular season losses in 2010. The defense gave up 10, 9, and 10 points respectively in those games. Mark did not need to light the world on fire. He just needed to be slightly less terrible than he was. A slightly better Sanchez in those games could mean wins. Add those three wins, and the Jets tie New England at 14-2. I know this is simplistic, and you could argue that if you take away some big throws in other games, the Jets could have a losing record.
My point stands, though. The Jets need quarterback play to become more consistent. If that happens, they can avoid a path to the Super Bowl as treacherous as consecutive road games at Indianapolis, New England, and Pittsburgh.