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.
Sunday was about the Mark Sancheziest game that Mark Sanchez has ever played.
The first drive of the game looked like it was going to be the march of a triumphant army as the Jets marched 87 yards over 15 plays while eating up more than 10 minutes of clock. A score there gives you more than a lead, it demoralizes the opposition and makes it seem like the whole day is shot before the first quarter is over.
And then Sanchez threw an interception in the end zone that was as ugly as any interception that you've ever seen.
He either overthrew Dustin Keller or underthrew throwing the ball away, but, either way, it was the kind of mistake that makes you wonder if there's a snowball's chance in Hades of Sanchez ever becoming a reliable quarterback.
The rest of the first half didn't do much to erase that image. Sanchez completed a lot of passes and moved the team well enough, but he also misfired on key third downs, threw a pick overturned on replay and then dropped a shotgun snap after a Jets interception gave them a shot just before the half.
It was a half that the Jets dominated on both sides of the ball, but it ended with just three points largely because of Sanchez. If the bad Sanchez came out of the locker room, there was a pretty good chance the Jets would lose a game that saw their dominant, crushing defense have its best outing of the year.
The bad Sanchez didn't return. The one that came back was efficient and accurate, willing to look for big plays down the field and mistake free as the Jets scored 24 points and ran away with a game that wasn't nearly as close as its 27-11 score.
It isn't totally insignificant that Sanchez was able to bounce back and play well after a third straight poor first half. Sanchez has gone into the fetal position in the past, so his three straight strong second halves are a reassuring sign.
This has been the yin and yang of Sanchez through his entire career, how he can look so bad so often while also leading a team that wins more than it loses and makes deep playoff runs.
There can't be many people out there expecting Sanchez to morph into Aaron Rodgers, but it is still baffling why he can't just be the successful version of himself every time he takes the field.
We started this meter project to measure the growth of Sanchez in this much-hyped third season and we've reached the halfway point pretty much where we started. Sanchez is essentially the same quarterback that he was when the year started.
He's erratic, inconsistent and capable of making the kinds of errors you don't expect to see from professional quarterbacks. He's also a winner who can move an offense and take advantage of the offensive weapons available to him.
Sanchez is lucky he isn't a shark. If they don't move forward, they die.
Quarterbacks can tread water and that's exactly what Sanchez has done to this point in the season. The completion percentage and other stats show improvement, but the eyes don't give you the same impression every week.
That leaves the Meter right in the middle, which would be fitting for the halfway point of the season if it wasn't quite so frustrating.