NY Jets rookie QB Mark Sanchez had many up and down moments in his first year as the Jets starting QB. He played very well in his first three games, played poorly for much of the middle part of the season before playing his best football of the season in leading the Jets to within twenty minutes of just the franchise's second Super Bowl before finally bowing to the eventual AFC Champion Colts.
There were many reasons why Sanchez struggled so much at times during his rookie campaign but perhaps no reason was more important that a part of the Jets offense that was missing the entire year, a weapon no other team that made the playoffs in 2009 was asked to do without.
Below are the twelve teams made the playoffs in 2009, the following numbers show the number of completed passes their QB's threw to their RB's (not counting the Jets).
Chargers: 94 catches, 965 yards, 7TD's
Vikings: 103 catches, 944 yards, 5TD's
Ravens: 115 catches, 932, 3TD's
Eagles: 90 catches, 784 yards, 4TD's.
Saints: 107 catches, 781 yards, 7TD's.
Packers: 80 catches, 780 yards, 5TD's.
Cardinals: 102 catches, 765 yards, 5TD's.
Patriots: 74 catches, 608 yards, 1TD.
Cowboys: 68 catches, 573 yards, 1TD.
Colts: 70 catches, 561 yards, 3TD's.
Bengals: 62 catches, 501 yards, 0TD's.
Those 11 QB's averaged throwing to their RB's 88 times for 745 yards and 4 TD's.
36 passes for 285 yards and 0 TD's. The numbers in bold illustrate the number of passes that Jet QB's completed to their RB's in 2009.
Passes completed to the RB's are completed at a very high percentage, probably in the 75% range. Simply adding the difference in the average number of completed passes would have added 50+ completions to Sanchez' overall numbers, but when you consider many of those passes would in all likelihood have come at a time when Sanchez was running for his life those extra pass completions would also have resulted in fewer INT's. Factor the numbers in that way and Sanchez' numbers improve even more.
Simply adding the check down pass to the options Sanchez will have at his disposal will no doubt greatly improve his overall play. Tomlinson is a question mark in so far as his rushing skills go but no one is disputing the fact that LT is still a skilled receiver.
Signing LT and getting Washington back from injury should be a boon to Sanchez and the Jet passing game. The anticipated big step up Sanchez needs to make in 2010 will be greatly aided by the addition of the short pass to his repertoire and could be one of if not the biggest reason for his overall improvement. It's been a long time since the Jets have been able to effectively throw screen passes to their RB's (instead of those ugly WR screens we have all been cringing at every time Schottenheimer calls one). Hopefully the presence of Leon and LT in the Jet backfield will allow the outlet pass to become a feature of the Jet offense.
The outlet pass to the RB will simplify the Jets offensive game plan, it will make both the Jets running game and their intermediate and deep passing game more difficult to defend against which will in turn help keep the defense off of the field with greater regularity. An offense that can score from any spot on the field that is backed by a more experienced and better rested defense would make the Jets a very difficult team to beat.