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.
It has been three weeks since the Jets rededicated themselves to establishing a strong running game on offense.
The results on the ground have been mixed, with mediocre results against New England and Miami giving way to an impressive effort against the Chargers on Sunday, but it seems to be helping out the quarterback.
Mark Sanchez has six passing touchdowns, a rushing touchdown and just one interception in those three games.
Now, we don't want to lead you believe that Sanchez has somehow been transformed over the last three weeks. There's been plenty of bad in all the games, particularly with Sanchez's white whale of accuracy.
He completed 18-of-33 passes on Sunday and didn't connect on any of the deeper throws that were part of the playbook for the first time in a long while. He did lose one -- a gorgeous 23-yard touchdown to Santonio Holmes -- because of a penalty, but he also wound up with better overall numbers thanks to some iffy flags on Chargers defensive backs so these things evened out over the course of the day.
The interception was vintage Sanchez. He locked on Plaxico Burress, threw to him in double coverage and then put up a quacking duck that any safety in the league would have reeled in with ease.
And yet it felt like a very good day for Sanchez. Part of that is because the offense kept moving the ball on the ground and it is hard to focus on bad things when the ball keeps moving down the field.
The other reason it felt like a good day is because he threw those three touchdown passes to Burress. Few things obscure more flaws than showing that you can make plays in the red zone to a previously disappointing player who was acquired to make a difference in the red zone after a week of scrutiny about your ability to work together.
In the end, the game looked a lot like some of the most memorable outings of Sanchez's first two seasons. Erratic and inefficient for long stretches, but spiked with big plays while avoiding the kind of mistakes that would eradicate the good work done by the running game and the defense.
That kind of low-octane performance does not represent the progress everyone was hoping to see from Sanchez this season, but it is difficult to argue with the result. Winning is what counts and Sanchez did more than enough to get his team the a victory they needed.