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Sanchez's Short Game - Seahawks Disaster




Disaster in Ancient Greek means "to be under an ill star". I just got through rewatching and charting Sunday's game against Seattle because I wanted to see just how many short passes there were, and what Sanchez was doing with them. Watching it live it seemed like there were an inordinate number of very short tosses, and we learned from the Schottenheimer era this really isn't a Mark Sanchez strong suit. He's inaccurate. He gets passes tipped that shouldn't be (two more yesterday) and he can't seem to place the ball where a short ball becomes a longish run. Defenses by the end of the year in 2011 were creeping in the box and suffocating whatever hope the ill-advised short game might have had until Sanchez was donating the ball to Defensive Linemen on the fly to end the year.

Well, welcome to Groundhog Day. The focus here is on Mark's performance because that is what Mark has to do, perform, but an eye is raised also to game plan because it became clear from the start that the game plan was to throw short, shorter and shortest. And what were the ugly numbers?

Sanchez threw 14 of his 22 (I counted 23, but ESPN has 22) passes 6 yards or less through the air, and it should be noted that all but 1 of passes longer in the air were forced by either longer downs or time and score. Basically the Jets would have been happy if Sanchez could have passed short the entire game. But what was happening with this plan? It seems like some kind of twisted version of the ol' West Coast philosophy where you safely pass short instead of run, with nice big YAC gains and unstoppable crisp routes and throws, in-sync screens lofted into open space. In this version though you get on passes 6 yards or shorter...this...

2.28 yards per attempt

QB rating 20.54

Yes, even the anemic Jet rushing game with only 84 yards boasted a more effective attack: 3.8 yards per attempt. Sanchez completed only 6 out of 14 of these much easier passes (42.8%) for an intense 32 yards and a QB rating of 20.54. And when the ball was caught YAC was a meager 3.5 yards. This was the meat and the bones of the Jets have-to-win-back-against-the-wall-two-weeks-to-prepare attack. The thing is, I don't know what is worse: the scheme that this was how to win this game or Mark's increasing impotence in very basic offense. Do they just keep paring down the offense because Mark is showing himself less and less capable or confident?

Add in the crippling INT at the goal line with the score 7-7, and then the comeback-killing fumble on the Seattle 32 in the 3rd quarter (21-7), not to mention lots of hidden things like blitz read failures that ended drives in sacks, and this game just was a game of complete offensive paralysis. I don't know where they came up with the idea that Mark can handle, let alone thrive in, this kind of offense, or that this is a go-to-move in a must win game, but if this really is the way they are going to play it one just doesn't understand why Tebow isn't a better option. As the game showed, Tebow can throw 3 yard passes too. He can air it out once in a while. Given that this is the best that 2 weeks of Jets offensive brain trust can come up with, that this is what they put on Sanchez's plate, and this is what he did with it, we have to change our star.

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