Mark Sanchez, The Jets Offense, and the AWOL Long Pass
By Alan Schechter
Aug 15, 2012; Cortland, NY, USA; New York Jets offensive coordinator Tony Sparano walks back to the locker room following practice at SUNY Cortland. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-US PRESSWIRE
It has been an interesting preseason so far for the New York Jets, especially for the Jets offense. Well, “interesting” might be a bit kind, but this is a family website. It has been very bad. Being the only team in the entire league yet to score a touchdown, is bad. The “Ground and Pound”, is doing anything but, as they averaged under 2 yards per carry on the ground last week.
And then there is Wayne Hunter. Whether he is hurt, as I wondered the other day, or just isn’t good enough anymore, he has to take much of the responsibility for the fact that Mark Sanchez has been running for his life.
But, what about stretching the field. As much as the Jets are going to be a run first offense, offensive coordinator Tony Sparano has talked about the importance of the vertical passing game in his offense. To date, we have not seen it, as Mark Sanchez is averaging 4.7 yards per pass attempt.
The question is, where is it? How do they get it back into the offense? What is the problem?
Our buddy Joe Caporoso, lead writer of turnonthejets.com wrote a great piece about the Jets offense. Take a look at it by clicking here.
In it, he takes a good look at how the offense is going to improve, looking at factors like getting healthy, personnel decisions, and other factors.
One point he made that I want to take a closer look at, is the point on Mark Sanchez, and about him getting the ball down the field. Turn the page to learn more.
Here is the excerpt from Joe’s piece about Mark Sanchez:
Protect the football and take more shots down the field. Sometimes you need to throw the deep ball just to throw it. Stephen Hill is 1 on 1 but covered well? Throw it anyway. He is 6 foot 4 for a reason. Santonio Holmes is 1 on 1 but covered well? Give him a chance to make a play, he was a Super Bowl MVP for a reason. Throw an interception on a 50 yard bomb on 3rd and 10, instead of on a 2 yard crossing pattern on 3rd and 10.
I agree with Joe, to a point. You do have to stretch the field once in a while, just for stretching sake. If you don’t ever throw the ball down the field, the defense will crowd the line of scrimmage, and basically “dare” the quarterback to throw deep. In order to keep the defense honest, you must stretch the field. Granted. But, there are other factors that make that almost impossible.
First of all, there is playcalling. As Joe put it, you have to call plays to get the ball down the field and “force the issue” a bit. Admittedly, the playcalling in the preseason has been “vanilla”, and you can see that. There have been a lot of short routes, in cuts, comebacks…etc. Tony is not forcing the issue at all, and they have to work on it a bit before they go into games.
Also, and I am a broken record on this, you cannot minimize the importance of the offensive line, especially when you are trying to go deep. Stephen Hill is fast, and using slang terms, we say he can “fly”. But he can’t actually fly, he needs 3-4 seconds to run a deep route.
The offensive line is not giving Mark that kind of time. In watching the tape back from Saturday night, whenever it appeared that Mark Sanchez looked down field, a pass rusher was on him within 2 seconds of the snap. Even stretching the field just for the sake of stretching takes time. The offensive line is not giving him that time.
As far as throwing an interception on “a two yard crossing route on third and 10”, I went back and looked at the tape from Saturday night. We all saw that the above occurred, and turned into a TD for the New York Giants.
Watch Mark’s eyes on that play, you can see that his read is going from left to right. Watch his eyes progress from the left sideline to the middle of the field. He ended up on Patrick Turner because nobody else appeared to be open. He made a terrible throw, but chose the most open man. The guys were blanketed, he made the only throw that he could. Mark’s read was a good one.
The Jets need to push the football down the field more. The downfield, long pass, has clearly gone AWOL on the New York Jets. Just don’t forget, there are a lot more issues that play into that than just Mark Sanchez.