I think it is fair to be disappointed in Mark Sanchez in light of the ugly game he played Thursday night. While he does deserve his share of the blame, part of the issue goes beyond him. A close examination displays an issue that has been persistent through the year, the Jets not putting him in a position to succeed.
Even Sanchez's most ardent backers would probably not argue that his forte is not accuracy on short balls. The other night, almost three out of every four passes went less than ten yards. The interception did.
The thought process around the Jets seems to skew to short passes when the chips are down because they are viewed as safer. That is questionable logic. Four of Sanchez's interceptions have gone less than ten yards this year. This could devolve into a Brian Schottenheimer rant, but there is a real possibility this philosophy could come from Rex Ryan. We have heard Rex rant about the need to protect the ball after certain ugly offensive games.
Depending too much on the short passing game creates its own problems. It limits the offense's chances to make big plays and score a lot of points. It also gives defenders an edge. If you watch the Jets on offense, you will notice how opposing corners do not respect the deep passing game. They squat on everything short. Sanchez's interception in Denver was primarily the fault of the quarterback, but it was in part because of this. Corners jump short passes because they are not afraid the Jets will attack deep.
I understand the limitations Sanchez has shown, but we keep hearing from the team how they need Sanchez to elevate his game for the Jets to become dominant. That cannot happen unless they get more aggressive. It feels like they are paying these receivers big money and not really giving them a chance to go make plays. Carolina, a team that should be hiding a rookie quarterback, throws the ball over ten yards almost ten percent more than the Jets. I understand the quarterbacks are different, and the Panthers lack pressure to win now. That is still telling. Sanchez had success a year ago when he was allowed to put it down the field more.
Sanchez has a track record of mistakes so this is not a slam dunk, but what the Jets are trying now is not working. Sanchez has been handcuffed to a degree by the team's desire to limit mistakes and win games. It is time to let him try and make more plays, the kind that suit him more than short, timing routes, and start to try and figure out what the quarterback really can and cannot do. It feels like the play calling cannot find a happy medium between the extremes of putting everything on Sanchez early in the year and giving him a chance to do something now.