In his first two NFL seasons, Mark Sanchez led the New York Jets to the AFC championship twice, his movie star good looks graced the cover of GQ and he quickly became a media darling with his effervescent smile and willingness to shoulder the blame for mistakes. But such willingness only goes so far. When you become one of the worst quarterbacks in the league overnight, and at times single-handedly lose games, the glitz is no more, and the fans turn. Let us not forget this is New York City as well.
Four weeks have elapsed thus far in 2011, and Mark Sanchez is the official linchpin for the New York Jets' collapse from AFC powerhouse to question mark. In his third pro season, with one of the league's premier defenses, the 24-year-old has steadily regressed. Sunday night against the attacking Baltimore defense was perhaps the lowlight. In going 11-35 with four turnovers, he recorded the lowest total quarterback rating (0.9) for any player since 2008, according to an ESPN report.
Pundits will point to a patchwork offensive line for his woes. To be fair, the line was abysmal and the Ravens still have an elite defense. You can also blame offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, who continues to be flummoxed by attacking defenses, especially when coming from behind. But Sunday's effort wasn't an anomaly either for Sanchez, and at the end of the day, the onus must fall on the quarterback.
For the second consecutive week, Sanchez -- a former No. 5 pick -- made extremely poor decisions, especially in scoring range and during crucial parts of the game. Against Oakland, it was the interception in the end zone. Against Baltimore, it was the pick six on a silver platter to Lardarius Webb that officially ended any chance for a Jets comeback. Sanchez, who has now committed nine turnovers in four games, has gone from boy wonder to overmatched panic machine. For a guy who said he "didn't feel rattled," he looked wildly uncomfortable in his drops and eerily hesitant in his throws.
The 2011 Jets were supposed to be a team built on great defense and a solid run game. Much like I said with Nebraska leading up to the Wisconsin game this past weekend, the Jets are not a team constructed to come back, especially on the road in Baltimore under the primetime lights.
Apparently this message has not been conveyed to Sanchez. Herculean 300-yard, 3 TD efforts aren’t the blueprint for wins. He doesn’t need to be Peyton Manning. He doesn’t need to be an All-Pro. He just needs to be a solid, no-frills leader who keeps New York in games and allows the defense to produce. Throwing 38 interceptions, completing 55 percent of your passes and becoming Mr. Dropsies is beyond unacceptable.
If he doesn’t figure this out soon, then it will be time to move in a different direction.
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