Coach Ryan’s philosophy was best for that year’s team as a whole. He took the strengths of the team, the number 1 ranked defense and rushing attack, and parlayed them into an AFC Championship Game appearance. Ryan minimized the team’s weakness, its inexperienced quarterback, to overachieve beyond what most Jets fans thought was possible. Was that the best for Sanchez long-term? Having your quarterback be tentative and afraid to make the big mistake is not the blueprint to develop a franchise quarterback.
Coach Mornhinweg, on the other hand, tailored the offense around the rookie’s strengths. Taking less shots down the field and playing more conservatively instilled a confidence in Foles. They did not hide him however because despite having a leaky offensive line, Foles dropped back 238 times and was sacked 20 times in just 7 games. Gameplanning for a quarterback strengths is a much better way to develop a young signal caller than hiding his weaknesses.
The best way to achieve success on offense in 2013 is a mix of the two philosophies. The offense needs to be geared toward the strengths of both the quarterback and the team. Smith has been an accurate quarterback during his college days completing 71% of his passes in his senior year. A lot of those passes were screens or short routes like the ones Mornhinweg used with Foles last year in Philadelphia. Smith has speed and can scramble so expect more rollouts like Vick did to both threaten the defense on the edge and let Smith focus on one side of the field. The team will once again rely on its defense so running the football behind Chris Ivory and Mike Goodson becomes important to keep the chains moving and the defense from tiring out. Having a 60/40 pass to run ratio will lose the time of possession battle and having a 60/40 run to pass ratio will stunt Smith’s growth so the right mix lies in between. In 2010, Sanchez’s 2nd year, the Jets were nearly 50/50 pass to run and had their best regular season at 11-5 while also beating the Colts and Patriots in the playoffs to return to the AFC Championship Game. Sanchez also had a good year with 17 touchdowns to 13 interceptions punctuated by 3 4th quarter comebacks. That balance seems to be what fits this team best.
The key is to produce a system that produces sustained success. That success is created by game plans that not only put the team in the best position to win each week but develop those players to improve over time. I believe that a system will be in place this year that accomplishes both goals leading the Jets to surpass last year’s win total and continue to improve each year.