You couldn't swing a dead cat this summer without hitting someone telling you that it was imperative that Mark Sanchez showed marked improvement as a quarterback this season. Because of that we thought we'd check in weekly to see how the Sanchize is progressing toward that goal.
Did you ever think you'd see a game like the one the Jets lost in Oakland on Sunday?
For two years we've watched the Jets win games and make deep playoff runs that seemed to happen in spite of Mark Sanchez being their quarterback. It was about the Rex Ryan defense, the Ground and Pound and Sanchez was just the guy standing in the way of making the next step because he couldn't do the job well enough.
That narrative is the very reason you're reading the latest in a weekly series about nothing other than Sanchez's growth as a quarterback. After Sunday's loss, it feels more than a little ridiculous to focus on that angle.
Sanchez was the only good thing about the Jets on Sunday. He threw for 369 yards, led the team downfield twice after the defense put them down two scores and was a few inches short of putting them down a field goal with enough time left for an onside kick and a dream.
And he did all that despite being under heavy rush thanks to an offensive line that couldn't do a thing to slow down the Raiders pass rush. Sanchez broke his nose on one of Oakland's forays into the pocket, but, unlike some whiny quarterbacks from Philadelphia, he chose to put on a visor and get back in the fight instead of complaining about a blatant hit to the head from Raiders linebacker Kamerion Wimbley.
It wasn't a perfect day. Sanchez threw a terrible interception in the end zone and -- whether because of Sanchez or the game plan -- there was a period where the offense went totally haywire, but those things do nothing to change the fact that the Jets would have been routed by the Raiders if not for the efforts of Sanchez.
There's a lot of season left to play, but it would be pretty fine black comedy if Sanchez wound up making the leap everyone wanted to see from him while the rest of the Jets took a gigantic step backward.
It wouldn't work out well for the Jets, of course, but you have to wonder if it might serve as a little reminder that it takes an entire team to win in the NFL and that we spend a bit too much time putting everything on the shoulders of the quarterback.
Probably not. So let's just say that if the Jets can put the quarterback they had against the Raiders together with a defense that actually lives up to its hype, they'll really be onto something.