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.
On the first drive of Sunday night's game against the Patriots, it looked like we would be celebrating a triumphant night in the career of Mark Sanchez when all was said and done.
He moved the team easily down the field, taking advantage of a bad Patriots defense the same way Eli Manning had the week before and driving the Jets toward an early lead in the biggest regular season game of his life. And then he threw two incompletions in the end zone, Nick Folk missed a field goal and everything started screaming downhill.
The Jets offense had a few good moments later in the game, but they all came with the Jets chasing the Patriots instead of leading the game and they were too few and far between to give them any chance to win the football game. The question is how much you can blame Sanchez for that.
It would be easy to find other culprits for the offense's failure to move the ball. Brian Schottenheimer is always a good choice and he certainly qualified on Sunday night.
The Jets would move the ball well in traditional sets and then switch to empty backfields that never worked out as the offensive line collapsed while trying to protect Sanchez.
You try something once or twice, but to keep going back to something that allows a bad defense to stop worrying about stopping the run (or, just as importantly, the play action) is hard to understand.
Shonn Greene didn't catch an easy pass that led to Sanchez's first interception on the night, the line didn't protect well and the entire team seemed like it was playing in a fog. All true criticisms that would deflect blame from Sanchez, but, in the end, you can only do that for so long without sounding like a total Sanchez apologist.
The bare fact is that the Jets faced a very vulnerable team and failed to take advantage in large part because Sanchez couldn't lead them to take advantage.
You can argue all you like about Sanchez not being put in a position to succeed, but when Sanchez got his chances he did not take advantage of them.
At some point, there has to be an end to the caveat that Sanchez can be a successful quarterback "under the right circumstances." Good NFL quarterbacks don't need that caveat, Tim Tebow does.
Circumstances don't get more right than they were on Sunday and, while he certainly needs more help from those around him, Sanchez flopped and he flopped royally. There's no way to sugarcoat that and no way to build enough insulation around him to make it about everyone else but him.
This was a week for Sanchez to show that he had progressed as a quarterback. It didn't happen and that's a big reason why the Jets found themselves on the wrong end of a whipping.