The Jets' game plan against the Jaguars was clear from the outset. To the extent humanly possible, take the game out of the QB's hands. Run, run, and when in trouble, run some more. If you must pass, run. If you still must pass, run. And if all else fails, run.
Given Mark Sanchez's proclivity for getting in the holiday mood and giftwrapping footballs for his opponents, it seemed like a sound decision. But Mark now seems to have so little game awareness left, even this strategy left just enough room for him to nearly give the Jags a very Happy Holiday season.
End of the first half, 1:49 to play. Ordinarily, to the extent Mark has strengths as a QB, this is it. Two minute drill, ball at the 9 yard line, you have your timeouts, plenty of time for Mark to do his thing, not think too much, and drive down the field for at least a game tying field goal. We've seen him do this on many occasions; it used to be his signature calling card, the reason we overlooked his flaws. Only now, he no longer has a calling card. The coaches decide to play it safe and dial up 3 straight runs. That SHOULD just about finish the half. Go into halftime down only 3, get ready for the second half. Only, inexplicably, Mark seems unaware of the situation. After a 5 yd run by Powell, Mark steps up to the line and snaps the ball with 8 seconds left on the play clock. 8 seconds! When the Jets' only goal here is to run out the clock, Sanchez leaves 8 seconds on it. Then again on 3rd down, Sanchez snaps the ball with 3 seconds left on the play clock. That's 11 seconds left on the clock for the Jags to use on their final drive of the half. Assuming perfection is too much to ask, let's say the ball should be snapped with 1 second left on the play clock. That's still 9 seconds gifted to the Jags. This exceptionally generous gift of time nearly cost the Jets 3 points. The Jags had a nice punt return, and there were 12 seconds left on the clock. They then completed 1 pass, and got themselves into range for a difficult but makeable 55 yd field goal They missed it, but that attempt should never have even been possible. Had Sanchez properly managed the clock, the Jags get the ball with 3 seconds left on the clock, out of field goal range and with no time to run a play. Sanchez's very sloppy seconds at the end of the half nearly cost the Jets 3 points.
Now, let's fast forward to the end of the game. About 7:06 left on the clock, the Jags just scored, Jets ball on their own 20. The Jets continue to go completely conservative with the game plan, running the ball 3 times, then punting. The Jets are clearly in full try-to-run-out-the clock, Grunt and Punt mode. Yet on second and 7, Sanchez hustles up to the line and snaps the ball with 12 seconds left on the play clock. 12 seconds! When all you're trying to do is chew up clock time with a game ending grind-it-out run the damn ball drive. This is just mind boggling. A complete lack of any awareness of the most basic time management concepts of football. If the Jets were still trying to ring up points through the air, hey, no big deal. But that ship had sailed long ago. It was clear the Jets were doing everything possible to avoid hanging the game on Mark's right arm. In that case, the QB has only one job - chew up the clock, as much as possible. Sadly, Sanchez is now incapable of even executing this simple assignment.
On 3rd and seven, he snaps the ball with 5 seconds left on the play clock. Then the Jets punt on 4th down. They get the ball back with 3:43 left. 2nd and 9, snap with 6 seconds left. 3rd and 9, Jags use a timeout. Mark hits a big 37 yard pass play to Cumberland, and it's 1st and 10. Snap comes with 4 seconds left on the play clock. Then the 2 minute warning, 2 more runs, 2 more Jags timeouts, and it's 4th down, Jets punt. Take note of the clock management. Trying desperately to run out the clock, snaps came with the game clock running with 12 seconds, 5 seconds, 6 seconds and 4 seconds left on the play clock. Giving Mark a 1 second margin of error on each snap, that's a total of 23 seconds inexplicably given to the Jags for their final desperation drive. 23 sloppy seconds, just gift wrapped to the Jags. Those seconds very nearly cost the Jets the game.
As it turned out, the Jags wound up driving from their own 20 to the Jets 28 with 22 seconds left before Henne threw an interception to end the game. But being at the 28 with 22 seconds left to play should have given the Jags 4 more plays to put it in the end zone. Had the interception not been thrown, those 23 seconds Mark left on the field quite possibly could have given the Jags a TD, and sent the game into overtime. It didn't work out that way, but because of Mark's poor time management, it very easily could have.
So, there you have it. A complete lack of awareness by Sanchez in terms of clock management nearly cost the Jets 10 points in this game. Considering the Jets only won by 7, it could have cost the Jets the game. Mark got sloppy with his seconds, and the Jets almost paid the price. It seems Sanchez is now not even capable of handing the ball off effectively. There can be no worse indictment of a QB than that.