Were we wrong about Mark Sanchez?

What is your opinion now of the Jets’ Mark Sanchez? We are talking about a QB that has won four NFL postseason games (all of them on the road) in just two seasons and will be starting in his second consecutive AFC Championship game. No matter how we try to spin it, that is an impressive resume to start your career.

This post-season? Wins over Manning and Brady. And we should all agree that he just outplayed the MVP favorite in Foxborough.

Mark SanchezICONSanchez outplayed Tom Brady in the Jets' 28-21 win over the Patriots.

Just before training camp started I talked with NFL defensive coaches about the Jets’ QB. Had a similar discussion that we are having right now. The answers were pretty standard. Liked his skills, but hadn’t seen enough from the young QB to judge his development. Still learning and working on attacking NFL defenses. Some major flaws that needed to be addressed.

Go back to the first half on Wild Card weekend vs. the Colts. We saw those “flaws.” Bad decision making, a careless INT in the red zone and missing on some easy opportunities in the intermediate passing game. Can’t have that in the NFL. During the second half, Sanchez wasn’t asked to control the game plan. The Jets ran the ball down the throats of the Colts’ front seven and the New York QB threw the basic 3-step game.

Until the final drive, when he hit WR Braylon Edwards on a fade route that set up the winning field goal. That is what I remember. And I can say the same about the win this past Sunday in Foxborough over the Patriots. The two throws that I talked about in my game notes: the deep 7 (flag) route to Edwards and the quick one-step fade to Santonio Holmes in the corner of the end zone. Great throw, great catch on the playoff stage. Sanchez put the ball on the up field shoulder where only Holmes could make the play.

And that is what you want—and expect—from your QB in the playoffs. Step up and make that throw. Sanchez isn’t Brady, Manning, Rodgers, Brees, etc. I don’t see a QB that can take over a game and dictate to the defense. He isn’t there yet. A lot of development left in his game.

Just yesterday, I asked a NFC defensive coach who played against Sanchez to give me his perspective on the QB after the Jets 28-21 upset win over the Pats. His response: “game manager.”

I can agree with that, because the style of football we see from New York on offense needs that from Sanchez. Run the play action game, hit the slant, the underneath crosser, the 5-yard stick out—and protect the ball. Do the little things that are necessary to win.

But don’t forget about the big plays—because this guy has been showing up. Run the offense and make that key throw when your team needs a play. That wins in January. Second title game already? That’s tough to argue--and I was one that doubted his ability all season long.

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