The headlines today are that Sanchez had another bad game. Two INTs, less than 50% completion %, a QB rating under 55, 10 offensive points scored and another loss will do that. But was it really as bad as the stats suggest? I just finished watching every play for the second time, and I think the answer is no. In this game, the stats lied. Sanchez wasn't great, but he was good, much, much better than the raw stats would indicate.
Let's look first at how we threw the ball in this game. This was a game nearly devoid of the dinks and dunks passing we have come to expect from the Jets. This was a game where Sparano's play calling really contrasted with his predecessor,
Schotty He Who Shall Not Be Named. We were taking shots down the field every chance we got, and this showed up in the stats. Mark averaged 16.5 yards per completion, and 7.4 yards per attempt, both very good numbers. Having watched every pass twice, my impression was Mark was as consistently accurate as I've ever seen him, repeatedly putting long passes on the money. How, then, to account for his abysmal completion % and QB Rating? Well, there was every conceivable type of misfortune for Mark in this game.
We can start with a cast of receivers who, other than Schilens and Kerley, have no business being on the field on Sunday. The result was mistakes, alot of mistakes. 3 dropped passes, one each by Greene, Cumby and Reuland. Another pass that Cumberland got 2 hands on and should have caught, but he bungled it, leading to an INT. One pass that would have hit Powell on the numbers, but Powell got tangled in his own 2 feet and fell down. Another on the money deep ball to Cro that a more experienced WR would have dragged his feet on and come down in bounds. 2 balls knocked down by defensive linemen, one an otherwise sure TD to Schilens. Another on the money pass to Kerley deep in Houston territory that Watts made a great deflection on and wound up being intercepted. And finally 2 balls that were simply avoiding the sack as Sanchez was being dragged down. That's 9 on the money passes that resulted in incompletions or INTs and 2 more that resulted in the positive result of avoiding a sack. That leaves 6 of Sanchez's 31 passes that were simply inaccurate. That's an excellent percentage that should be more than enough to win most NFL games.
Had Sanchez simply completed the 6 passes that were on the money but were dropped, out of bounds due to WR inexperience, or the receiver fell down, he would have been 20-31 for well over 300 yards and it is likely we would have scored at least 7-10 additional points.
On a day when Sanchez faced an elite NFL defense, he was aggressive, accurate, and better than his Houston counterpart. Under heavy pressure he consistently took shots down the field and drove into enemy territory, despite no running game and heavy pressure from Houston's front 4. He pretty decisively outplayed Schaub, who was often wildly inacccurate even while facing mediocre pressure, despite Sanchez facing a better defense and having much inferior weapons. Aside from Kerley and Schilens, most of Mark's weapons are not even NFL caliber, not one is even close to elite, (unlike Houston, who had 2 All Pros on the field in Foster and Johnson) and many were so new Mark had no rapport with them.
Despite all the obstacles, Mark played well. Having watched the game a second time, I believe, against an elite defense, this was a very good performance in very difficult circumstances. The statistics say Mark had another bad game. The chatter says give Tebow a shot. But in this case, the statistics are lying, and the chatter is wrong. Mark has been truly awful at times in the past, most recently the 49er game, but last night was not one of those games. Last night Mark came to play, put the ball consistently on the money even while throwing mostly deep balls against heavy pressure, and last night Mark deserved to win the game. That he didn't is a refection on his nonexistent supporting cast, not on Mark. For one night at least, this loss is not on Mark.