I happen to be a fan of the...adage "it's what it is". It explains and settles things in life that cannot be changed, things that we have to, need to, find ways to live with for lack of any better choice. But before one can use this adage one has to clearly define the situation at hand and then apply it. One has to define what the "it" is.
The case is Mark Sanchez, and consequently the Jets, being that the QB is the most important position in any team sport. Heartbreaking losses like the one against the Pats last night help put the "it" into perspective. These are games that put the "it" under the microscope and after that it's simply a matter of how one interprets what he sees.
Yes, Sanchez did throw over 300 yards last night. Yes, he did provide come-from-behind heroics to tie the game at 23. Yes, he did deliver some absolutely brilliant throws. Some even go on a limb saying that he played better than Brady, which, if true, would not necessarily indicate that Brady played great or good and Sanchez outplayed him. It could also indicate that Brady had an off-night (to which the Jets D certainly contributed) and by comparison Sanchez played "better". But then it would be a moot point.
To me, after 4 years of watching Mark Sanchez one thing is clear, well, actually 2 things: that he is a infuriatingly erratic QB and that he will more than likely remain an erratic QB. I don't belong by the way to the Sanchez "hater" lobby or the one that...loves him if these 2 lobbies even exist. My only interest is that the Jets win. And whether the Jets win, whether I like it or not, goes also through the play of M. Sanchez. He is the QB, he also happens to be a very high draft pick intended to take the team to the SuperBowl. And by now, he's in his 4th year, in a very lucrative contract, and with the excuses lessening by the week.
It's quite clear that we are not dealing with an untalented QB, if he were untalented we wouldn't be arguing our asses off trying to figure out the problem: we would've agreed by now that he doesn't have it and the matter would be settled. But Sanchez is by all means talented.
Take for example that 92 yard beauty of a drive last night of which Sanchez was a major part. He delivered laser throw after laser throw in windows tighter than a mosquito's behind. He was confident, accurate, used the pocket well, radared the field when needed, didn't betray his targets. Masterful stuff. I was looking at that drive with a slight smile on my face knowing that such moments of brilliance are not a first by Sanchez. He's shown them before.
Yet, and with that drive in mind as well as other segmented parts of the game where he played like a top-flight QB, this was the exact same QB who:
a. in the first half threw at least 3 tip-offs that I counted (might have been 1 or 2 more) which were directly his responsibility. They were passes thrown way too high, under very little or no pressure, forcing receivers to go sky-high to retrieve the ball, resulting in tip-offs. One of them was salvaged by Keller, the others fell mercifully on the ground just barely out of reach of NE defenders.
b. he comically underthrew Hill on the INT when it was obvious that that window had closed. Worse than that, meaning that he insisted on throwing to him when the window was done, was the fact that he never saw him while Hill was more alone than an expeditioner on the North Pole. Further worse, that when he threw to Hill, Greene was standing infront of Sanchez, a mere 6-7 yards away, wide open. Sanchez never even looked at him. It wasn't the only instance in the game that Sanchez never detected receivers being all alone.
c. he continued the trend he's shown for 4 years now of taking needless sacks instead of being able to understand the situation in due time and get rid of the ball.
d. i also credit him (as well as Greene) with part of the responsibility for the fumble as he handed the ball off in an awkward fashion (i.e too high) and that led to the safety.
All this, a coctail of brilliance and mediocrity is Mark Sanchez. This isn't the picture of just yesterday's game, no. It's the picture that he's shown us for 4 years now. Sometimes the mix varies in that he might be below average in 3 games straight and then deliver a great game. If he could at least deliver the mixed bag the way he delivered it last night he might have given his team better chances to win games they lost. But, this is how "erratic" is defined. This is the "it".
And thus it's what "it" is. What it is, is that we have an erratic QB. I for one, have accepted that fact by now. Sure we can sit and argue that this or the other OC or QB-coach would have helped Sanchez more, but when your QB is defined by maddening incosistency that argument becomes empty. No OC can magically solve it. It's primarily a mental problem and some parts of the cerebrum are as unexplored as any planet outside the one we live on.
There is of course the intriguing question: can we win regardless? Can we make the playoffs this year despite the flaws our QB has and all the other flaws the Jets have as a team. I would answer that question with a confident yes, based not only on the strengths we have as a team but also on the weaknesess of the collective opposition.
Speaking of the opposition, i certainly didn't get terrified looking at that Patriots team last night. They are a very beatable team, nothing to do with the Pats of old, and this will get further exposed as the season progresses. Their secondary has already been ripped to shreds so far in the season and it will continue to be. The Jets had them and couldn't drive the knife at the heart when it really mattered. Looking at our division I see no dominant team, in fact, with all our flaws, I will go on a limb myself and say we might actually have the better team in the AFC East.
But even when I consider the entire AFC, i see so many flawed teams that I find it very probable that a 9-7 will suffice to make the playoffs this year.
On top of that I look at our strengths: the D is still our most formidable weapon. It shut down the Pats last night. Giving up 17 defensive points in 4 quarters plus overtime to one of the (supposed) best offenses of the league is no negligible matter. We did pretty much the same to the Texans who according to some are an even better balanced offense. Especially our secondary is frightening and that despite missing Revis, easily the best in his position in the NFL.Our special teams, despite the hiccup last night, continue to be great. And I absolutely love some of our guys on offense who some media "experts" have rushed to call "inexistent weapons": Kerley is a monster, Hill has unbelievable potential, Keller is a no-doubter. This by the way, and I want to emphasize it, is another reason why Sanchez should be doing better. It's NOT true that he has no weapons. He does. It's up to him to exploit them better.
All in all, yes it was bitter last night but nothing is lost, even with all our flaws. It's what "it" is. We might even smile in the end of the season. Keep the faith.