Inside Mark Sanchez's Red Zone Struggles

Mark L. Baer-US PRESSWIRE

Why has the quarterback struggled?

Cimini notes Mark Sanchez's struggles in the red zone this year.

In 2011, Sanchez was 45-for-82 (54.9 percent), with 21 TDs and three interceptions -- a 92.0 passer rating. This season, he's 13-for-32 (40.6 percent), with eight TDs and three interceptions.

Sanchez's three turnovers (plus a fumble just outside the red zone) were momentum-changing plays because, in three cases, the opponent capitalized with a score. There’s nothing more deflating than blowing a scoring opportunity and having to watch it go the other way.

A lot was made of Sanchez's play in 2011 in the red zone. Why hasn't it continued? I think there are a few things at play.

1. Most importantly, I think Sanchez's success in 2011 was just the product of a small sample size. A lot of suspect quarterbacks might have good numbers over an 82 throw stretch. This year, he has fallen back to earth and is playing more like the quarterback he really is on the rest of the field.

2. The Jets miss Plaxico Burress in the red zone. Everybody talked about how useless Plax was between the 20's last year. That is for good reason. He was a monster in the red zone. He was a force because he knew how to use his size. It wasn't terribly realistic to expect a raw rookie like Stephen Hill to step in and duplicate what Burress did. I agree with the decision to let Burress go completely. He didn't bring enough to the table and would have taken up a roster spot the Jets are using to try and develop a young player. There are also some indications he might have been a locker room problem. He still is missed in this one area. Dustin Keller has not been healthy this year and isn't the kind of red zone threat you would like your tight end to be anyway.

3. Tim Tebow hasn't taken the pressure off Sanchez. I'm stunned he has no touchdowns halfway through the year. It's obvious the coaching staff doesn't think he's any sort of an offensive threat. He has gotten few chances. He hasn't done much with the chances he has gotten. Less Tebow in the red zone has put more on Sanchez's plate than there could be.

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