I was glancing through Football Outsiders and I came across something odd, which I think might interest some of you. It's not precisely true that the Jets haven't had successful pass-catchers. In terms of DYAR, which is a counting stat, or in other words favors players who have more opportunities to make plays, the Jets have a borderline #1 WR (Jeremy Kerley, #26), and a player who is quietly becoming a decent #2 (Chaz Schillens, #57). In addition, they have a league-average TE (Keller is #15). This was particularly baffling to me considering, of course, Keller was out for a sizable chunk of this year (on a per-pass basis, which doesn't punish him for not being thrown at, he's been 4th), and neither Kerley or Schillens began the year as a starter, and the latter still isn't really. How is it possible that the Jets have had such an anemic passing game, but three receivers with solid production?
I looked back at the box scores from each of the games, and noticed something interesting; it almost looks like there are two Sanchezes --- when he throws to those three guys, he's often been legitimately productive. When he throws to anybody else, he's, well, not. I should comment that this isn't a claim that the other receivers are bad. Hill, in particular, is a young receiver and it's not fair to judge him too harshly on the basis of just nine games. Some of this might also be because Sanchez throws less well to certain people rather than others, and players like Hill and Holmes received tougher coverage. Nonetheless, I think this is interesting.
Against the Bills --- Sanchez to the three: 6/6, 60 yards, 1 TD. Everybody else: 13/20, 206 yards, 2 TDs
Against the Steelers: To the three: 2/4, 67 yards, 0 TDs. Everybody else: 8/23, 71 yards, 1 TD
Against the Dolphins: To the three: 4/6, 89 yards, 1 TD. Everybody else: 17/38, 227 yards, 0 TDs
Against SF: To the three, 5/6, 57 yards, 0 TDs. Everybody else: 9/23, 55 yards, 0 TDs
Against the Texans: To the three: 9/14, 123 yards, 0 TDs. Everybody else: 5/18 107 yards, 1 TD
Against the Colts: 6/11 51 yards, 0 TDs. Everybody else: 6/8, 54 yards, 2 TDs
Against NE: 14/21, 213 yards, 1 TD. Everybody else: 14/20, 115 yards, 0 TDs
Against the Dolphins: 16/27, 139 yards 1 TD. Everybody else: 12/26, 144 yards, 0 TDs
Against Seattle: 8/13 104 yards, 0 TDs. Everybody else: 4/12, 28 yards, 0 TDs.
Against the Rams: 9/10, 107 yards, 1 TD. Everybody else: 7/11, 70 yards, 0 TDs.
Let's put this all together. Over the course of the season, Sanchez has thrown to Kerley, Schillens and Keller 118 passes. He has completed 79 of them (66.9%), for 1009 yards (8.55 yards per attempt). To everybody else, he thrown for 1029 yards, but it took him 196 passes (5.25 yards per attempt), of which he completed only 44.4%.
Then I thought, maybe I'm just cherry-picking. Maybe it's true for every mediocre QB that there are some receivers he does terrifically with, but you can't just throw to those guys. I looked then at the other least accurate QBs, to see if some WRs had excellent catch rates and other did not.
Josh Freeman has a 56% completion percentage. Vince Jackson has a 48% catch rate. Mike Williams, 50%. Clark, the TE, does have a 66%.
Cam Newton has a 57% completion percentage. His best WR, LaFell, has a 57% catch rate. Steve Smith: 52%. Olsen has a 65%.
For these other QBs, it seems like they puff up their completion percentage with passes to RBs. Sanchez, however, has shown an ability to complete big passes to certain WRs and TEs. It's very possible that as he does it more, defenses will react, and he'll become as inaccurate with them as everybody else. But why not see?