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This is the first of a series of posts sponsored by Sprint. They've asked us to discuss some game changing moves from the offseason. They are sponsoring this post and are an important sponsor of our blog, but they have no say over editorial content in this series.
The most important development over the course of the offseason for the Jets may not be a transaction. It may be the way Mark Sanchez works. Expectations for his second year are going to be significantly higher than they were in year one. The Jets knew their running game and defense had to carry a rookie quarterback in 2009. Now the passing game will have to carry more weight.
Part of this is based on what Mark has done well. We saw flashes of a potential franchise quarterback during his rookie season. He ended the year playing some excellent football, posting a 92.7 quarterback rating in the three Playoff games, an unheard of mark for a rookie. It was really the plan all along for Mark to eventually become the most important player on the roster.
He has had a year to adjust to the speed and complexity of NFL defenses. He has a feel for how long the season can be. He knows the work he needs to put in to be successful. He has a library of film on himself to break down. There should be a marked improvement this year.
Few quarterbacks could imagine a situation this good. He still has the league's top defense. He may not have Thomas Jones, but Mark can still count on the league's best run blocking offensive line to give him an effective run attack. He also may have the deepest receiving corps in the league with Edwards, Cotchery, and Holmes at receiver, Dustin Keller's athleticism creating plenty matchup problems at tight end, and LaDainian Tomlinson and Leon Washington available for checkdowns out of the backfield.
The Jets don't need to have a top five passing attack to be successful. They were a game away from the Super Bowl in 2009 while getting very little at times from Sanchez. If Mark can make a leap this year and turn the passing game into an asset, Gang Green is going to have no weakness. The run game could be even better since teams would risk getting burned by sticking eight in the box and be more hesitant to do so. The defense would have less pressure with the offense presumably putting up more points.
Mark Sanchez's development will be the difference between a good football team and a potential Super Bowl favorite.