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.
Four drives into Monday night's game against the Dolphins, it felt like we were in for a bit of press conference deja vu when the game was over.
Mark Sanchez was misfiring almost every time he threw the ball, the Jets had run 12 offensive plays and his body language was that of a man with no confidence in himself.
It seemed inevitable that Rex Ryan would be asked the same question he was asked after last year's loss to Miami at the Meadowlands: Were you thinking about benching Sanchez?
The lack of a viable backup makes such a thought highly unlikely, although you wouldn't know that from the boos that were raining down on Sanchez from Jets fans in Jersey.
The offense, so bad in the two previous losses, seemed to be regressing even more and it was impossible to ignore Sanchez's role in the middle of the mess.
And then, finally, the storm clouds cleared and the Jets offense made some positive things happen.
An 11-play, 81-yard drive ended on a nifty draw for a touchdown by Sanchez, another long drive led to more points in the third quarter and you could see the quarterback's whole demeanor change.
Sanchez went 11-for-18 for 187 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown to Santonio Holmes after those four ugly drives that started the game and a couple of drops stopped him from having even better numbers. His throws stopped sailing, he lost the happy feet in the pocket and made plays that he wasn't making often enough during the three-game losing streak.
Give the offensive line some credit for the turnaround. They kept an admittedly inferior Dolphins pass rush at bay all night and gave Sanchez eons to find receivers in the basic but effective Jets passing game.
Despite all that, it is impossible to be effusive in praise for Sanchez or deem the problems solved.
The Jets punted four more times after those first four drives and every good thing must be taken with a grain of salt because it came against a Dolphins team that seems as interested in winning as Washington seems to be in fixing the jobs crisis in this country.
The confidence is the best takeaway from Monday night for Sanchez because he has always seemed prone to getting down on himself and seeing his play drop as a result. If they can get off to a good start against San Diego, no sure thing given the Jets' issues showing up ready to play, that confidence can build into a performance that's worth getting really excited about.
For now, the Meter's made a jump in the right direction, but there's still a lot further to go before it is on the right side of the halfway point.