FanPost

Was Sanchez Even Throwing to the Wide Open Schilens?

Down 9, 12 minutes to go, on the 3 yard line. Tebow had been taken out after looking great, and then an incompletion to Powell. The game is in reach. But then Watt bats his second game-changing ball. Not much Sanchez can do, poor guy, he's just faced with an unstoppable freak defender, and his OL won't get Watt's hands down.

But the strange thing is that it looks like Sanchez isn't even throwing to the wide open Schilens. He is - or at least by two angles of the replay he appears to be - throwing to Kerley who is behind Schilens and is breaking open on an In cut.

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The interesting thing is that Sanchez actually looks to be confused after the play when he approaches Schilens with a "what were you doing there?" body language, making it appear that Schilens ran the wrong route or at least was in an unexpected place, and Kerley's reaction seems to be like he was expecting the ball (he jumps up and down in frustration):

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But Schilens after the game says pretty explicitly that the Texans blew a coverage on that play, and at least thinks it could have been a possible TD with no indication that he may have run the wrong route. If you look at the routes they seem clear enough, Schilens was just released uncovered at the line.

"They blew a coverage, they got lucky," Schilens said. "I was so open, no one was within 10 yards of me. They got lucky." - ESPN

So the story of the game at that point may really have been: Who was Sanchez throwing to? and not really that of Watt's second bat. Was Schilens even seen by Sanchez?

I suspect that the play was just like the first batted ball by Watt. It was in Sanchez's mind that he is going right to Kerley and Watt just reads his eyes waiting. There was no lesson learned, and there was no survey of the field. Sanchez clearly feels that these batted balls are not his fault, they are the fault of his OL, as he describes the first Watt-aided INT...I'm not completely sure - when looking at both tips - what he expects his OL to do as Watt is kind of actually falling back in semi-coverage.

Sanchez didn't own up to it, saying, "We have to find a way to keep the defensive lineman's hands down." He added, "It was going to be a bang-bang play, and JK was going to catch it. - ESPN

and...

"...You know on any of those underneath routes if you don't get those guys hands down that is just the way it goes....he know, as a good rusher, when he's not getting any pressure and they stone him up front he's just going to wait back and sit there and time his jump and watch my arm to be cocked to throw and he just jumps up and tries to tip it. So that is just part of his deal, we just got to find a way to keep their hands down." - Post Game Press Conference

One thing is sure, DLs already have had a pretty good success interfering with Sanchez passes for some time, this game is just going to produce even more of that eye-reading. But if the story is Sanchez's eyes, did they even see Schilens? And if the angles of the replay are misleading, and Schilens indeed was intended, how did Sanchez not just loft the ball to his wide open player with Watt 5 yards away? Basically it looks like Sanchez not only keyed Watt with his lock on, he also was so locked on he failed to see his own wide open player two feet from his intended target. This is the stuff that wins or loses games.

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