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Mark Sanchez's Edge: Pro System Experience

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Ever since the Jets took Mark Sanchez, you've probably heard a lot about his experience playing in a pro system instead of a spread offense in college. You probably wonder exactly what difference this makes. Here are a few reasons it gives Sanchez a leg up.

Taking Snaps Under Center:

In a spread offense, just about every snap comes from the shotgun. In pro systems, most snaps come from under center. A lot goes into working under center. A quarterback needs good mechanics while dropping back, namely the ability to use proper footwork and scan a defense. It requires repitition to master. Spread quarterbacks have to learn how to do this from scratch.

Making Postsnap Reads:

The idea of a spread offense is to get as many playmakers into space as possible. In many instances, the quarterback can spot a mismatch before the snap and decides right then to get the ball there quickly to exploit it. There are presnap reads in the pro game and postsnap reads in the spread, but the ratio is not balanced. Quarterbacks have to go through progressions much less.

Reading Defenses:

Spread offenses often face subpackages with more defensive backs than usual to compensate for the four to five receivers on each play. NFL defenses are much more complex than college ones. Quarterbacks with pro system experience at least have a base of reference for facing more conventional fronts. The schemes are more complicated, but it is like jumping from algebra 1 to algebra 2. Spread quarterbacks who faces these subpackages exclusively are jumping from arithmetic to alegbra 2.

Receiver Routes:

Again, the idea of spread offenses is to get playmakers the in space. This often means simple routes on passing plays to get the ball into their hands as quickly as possible. NFL plays are designed with much more complexity. There are clear out routes in which two receivers start out in the same area, and one goes deep to run off a safety, while the other comes back and other complex designs the spread does not produce.

The adjustment from college to the NFL is very difficult. It's even tougher when a quarterback has to completely learn the concepts of playing the position over. Because Sanchez played a pro system at USC, his path will be a bit easier.