First and foremost, I’d like to introduce myself to the FansTurn community, and I wanted to preface my first post by stating that I have been a life-long Jets fan. My name is Joe Lacalandra, I am 24 years old and from New Jersey. I am aspiring to work in sports media, specifically broadcasting, and this is my first ever blog. I hope you enjoy my posts, not only will be informative but they will also be objective.
Photo by Rich Kane/Icon SMI
Breaking down the 3 Interceptions
#1 – Ironically, Mark’s first pick came on the Jets first play from scrimmage. Could the Sanchez naysayers have scripted it any better? The Jets come out with Stephen Hill and Jeremy Kerley at WR to start the game and Bilal Powell in at RB and Konrad Rueland at FB. It is a play-action fake and a 5 step drop for Sanchez. The Cardinals counter with a 5 man rush, blitzing both Middle Linebackers. Sanchez does not recognize the blitz, which has been a recurring theme with him, and the Jets do not keep extra blockers in to help. Initially the line holds up, Sanchez had nearly 4 seconds to unload the ball which is more than enough time. That’s the start of the problem with this play; the other part is that Sanchez is completely locked in on Jeremy Kerley the entire time. He never scans over the field to notice his other receivers. He compounds the problem by holding the ball too long and forcing the ball into coverage while falling away. Ultimately the ball in intercepted by former Jet Kerry Rhodes. If Sanchez had looked underneath he had Powell and Rueland both open underneath the Cardinals zone defense. This is just an inexcusable mistake by a 4 year veteran, especially since the Jets on their own 13 yard line!
#2 – The Jets were quietly putting together a nice drive to this point. The play happens at the Arizona 40 yard line, late in the first quarter and again on 1st down. The Jets line up in a Shotgun formation, but have two TE’s both flanked to the right side of the formation. The Cardinals blitz one again by sending their two middle linebackers right up the middle. The Jets again, do a pretty solid job of picking up the blitz with Shonn Green doing a nice job in protection on the free blitzer. Unlike the first interception where Sanchez held the ball too long, this time he rushes the throw as he senses the blitz. Sanchez thinks he has TE Jeff Cumerland open down the seam. But he never sees Kerry Rhodes, as he comes up from his safety spot to make another easy interception. Rhodes was basically waiting for Sanchez to throw it in his direction as he was playing centerfield on the play. It was another poor throw by Sanchez as he threw it low and too far to the middle of the field for Cumberland. He never had a chance to make a reception. Once again the blitz up the middle gets the best of Mark, and a once promising drive ends in a turnover.
#3 – Just two drives later comes the third interception, this time the Jets are faced with a 2nd and 6 from their own 14 yard line. The Jets have a tight formation with two TE’s and just Chaz Schillens lined up as a flanker to the right. This is a three-tier route design by Tony Sparano with Keller running underneath, Cumberland running about a 15 yard out to the right, and Schillens running a GO-route deep down the middle of the field. This time the Cards rush just four men, and Sanchez has enough time to scan the field. He actually does a nice job of side stepping to create a clear pocket and throwing lane for himself. He makes the correct read by unloading the bomb to Schillens. When Sanchez makes the throw, he is open and it looks like the Jets are going to have a big play. However, Patrick Peterson had other ideas. Peterson is such a great athlete that he is able to close on Schillens at the last second and swoop in and steal this one away. The throw is right on the money and Schillens appeared to have the ball initially, but Peterson comes over the back and takes it away making an incredible interception. Unlike the first two interceptions, this one you cannot fault Sanchez for.
Final thoughts on Sanchez’s performance which ultimately led to his benching:
This was a performance that has become all too familiar to Jet fans with Sanchez. In his four seasons with the Jets, he has been consistently inconsistent, if that makes sense. Sanchez did some nice things, especially in the first half, but his propensity to turning the ball over landed him on the bench in the 2ndhalf. Sanchez at times looks like a competent starting QB, but far too often he is making the same mistakes. He has poor pocket presence, which is attributed to his mediocre footwork. When the defense brings pressure, especially up the middle, he looks lost. This was the case on his first two interceptions. When he has a clean pocket, he is fully capable of delivering a well-timed strike to his intended receiver. Who isn’t? But as is case in the NFL, you are not always going to get a clean pocket, and you can’t blame the offensive line for this. The offensive line has done a pretty good job in protection this year. You would like to see some improvement from a four year starter, but it just doesn’t seem to be happening. Sanchez now has turned the ball over, 18 times in 12 games this year. It’s hard to win that way.