Today, I'm going to the tape for Mark Sanchez and his 2012 performance. Numbers tell a lot, but they don't tell the whole story. I'll be focusing on bigger plays—TDs, INTs, fumbles, etc—but will also look into other plays as well.
I'll be going through the entire season, week-by-week, to see what's really behind the stats. This will be Part 1 of 4, Weeks 1-4. Each game, I'll choose 3 plays to really highlight Sanchez's performance. Each play will have their own verdict, and then the week will receive an overall 'final word.'
Images: NFL (Tape-Style), Fox Sports (Broadcast-Style)
Weeks 1-4 after the jump…
Week 1 provided fans with a hope that was somewhat diminished the following week. The Jets played Buffalo to start the season, and Sanchez's stat line was as follows: 19 for 27 (70.4%), 266 yards, 3 TDs to 1 INT.
Play 1: The first offensive play from scrimmage saw Sanchez throwing a ball off a quick, 3-step drop. The ball hits Stephen Hill in the hands, but after Hill has to dive for it, which doesn't seem intended.
Verdict: I'd chalk this incompletion as a miscue on both parties; timing was off.
Play 2: The above play does not change the course of the game—now to more substantial plays. Six plays later, Sanchez would 'throw' an interception, that really did not need to happen.
Instead of taking a hit (he was almost already on the ground), for what would have been a play of approximately no gain, Sanchez attempts a shovel pass to TE Jeff Cumberland.
Because of both of their momentums, the ball sails off Cumberland's fingertips, deflecting into a defender's arms.
The play was a designed play-action roll-out. The Bills defense played it well, but Mark did have one solid option if he was going to try to make a play. Holmes was open downfield, shown below, right before cutting back in. It may have been tough with Mark's momentum, but there was definitely an opportunity. Holmes ran his route very well.
Verdict: Mark Sanchez caused an interception.
Play 3: Mark did have 3 TDs on the day—his first is probably the simplest, but most beautiful. The other two were more rewarded on WR Stephen Hill's part.
In the below image, Mark Sanchez and the offense will start at the 14 yard line in a four-receiver set, one in motion. Sanchez pump-fakes in Holmes' direction, who is short of the receiving Kerley. Instead, he throws an endzone strike, which goes over-top of the Buffalo defender. Kerley makes a great effort to get space, and the pass is where it needs to be.
Surprisingly enough, the TD came one play after a direct-snap Tim Tebow run. So much for, 'messing up flow.'
Verdict: Sanchez makes a great throw off the fake.
Week 1 Final Word
Mark Sanchez played up to his potential this game. He didn't dominate, but that's not the Jets game. It's about doing enough to win, and not losing the game and/or disappointing the defense. The receivers got open as much as possible and, with everything clicking (and a decent 118 yds on the ground), the Jets won.
Week 2, everything crashed backed down to reality. The Jets would take on the Steelers at Heinz Field, an always difficult match-up for Gang Green. Mark Sanchez went a horrid 10 for 27 (37%), 138 yards, with 1 TD.
Play 1: Mark's one-and-only TD was a very basic, effective play. Santonio Holmes was the only receiver out on a route, off a play-action. This leads me to believe Sanchez had the option of having the ball off, based on the coverage. If so, he chose to air the ball out, to a slanting Holmes.
Verdict: Good on Sanchez for getting the TD, but it was a play that any NFL QB should make.
Play 2: Now to some Week 2 reality. This play comes from the second quarter of the game. Mark Sanchez takes the ball and introduces it to the dirt. I'd call it their first date, but I think they moved a little fast. As you can see below, Mark releases the ball without having a receiver even looking at him.
Clearly, it appears TE Jeff Cumberland was supposed to turn-around quickly (after essentially a 1-step drop), but he wasn't looking.
Verdict: As a QB, you can't just expect things. Miscommunications will happen, so you have to ensure you have a receiver's eyes. The QB is at fault at the end of the day, and it looks terrible. Could have easily been an INT.
Play 3: Now, we'll take a look at a sack on 3rd-and-long, in the third quarter. A sack on third down is never a good thing to see. I've blown this pic up a little larger to better illustrate what happened.
In yellow, you can see that RT Austin Howard allowed the pass-rush to blow by him. The potential WRs are all covered—Mark Sanchez has the RB as his one-and-only option, in the flat. The WRs' routes are deep, so the O-Line really had to stay strong, which they (Howard) did not. The WR, to the bottom of the image, could've been looking, but Mark wouldn't have had enough time to get him the ball, anyway.
Verdict: Sanchez takes a sack, but should've better felt the pressure and dump the ball off. Howard collapsed, but the QB has to recognize when that happens.
Week 2 Final Word
It was not a pretty week for any member of the offense. If you'll remember, Santonio Holmes was able to draw many a yard off defensive penalties, but that doesn't win games. Mark Sanchez failed to inspire better play out of his offense, as he fed into, and off of, the mistakes made by others. Basically throwing into someone's back will prove that.
Week 3 would be a very ugly game in Miami. Neither team played up to their ability, and the Jets really shouldn't have won the game. Regardless, the Jets would win 23-20, in OT, but lose their superstar CB Darrelle Revis to injury. Mark Sanchez's stat line: 21 for 45 (46.7%), 306 yards, 1 TD to 2 INTs.
Play 1: Once again, the very first play from scrimmage had me shaking my head. Tim Tebow (yellow) was on the field, running a route as a WR. Three other members of the Jets offense went out in routes, as well. Mark has time to step up, read, and react, but instead he flings it to nobody.
Verdict: What the hell was that? In the second image, the ball is still in the air, so the 'Phins safety ends up disappointed with himself for not catching the ball. That should never be the case. If Mark waited a few more seconds, he could have hit Hill near the sidelines. Heck, I'll say it: Tebow was open right away. Mark never even looked left. If you're going to have him on the field as a WR, view him as one.
Play 2: The Jets are in the red zone, 3rd-and-7, in the 3rd quarter. The score is tied 10-10. Mark Sanchez puts the ball up for Stephen Hill in the corner of the endzone. Sanchez faces an all-out blitz from Miami. Blown-up to better illustrate.
All 4 WRs are covered, the seemingly open one is covered by the yellow defender.
Usually reliable Nick Mangold is blow up, understandingly, by the all-out blitz.
Mark rushes the throw, however, underthrowing Stephen Hill for an INT.
Verdict: The INT can be blamed on many parties, but when things broke down, Sanchez got impatient. Instead of taking a sack, throwing the ball away, or waiting a second to throw, Sanchez badly underthrows Hill.
Play 3: The Jets get the ball first in OT, and after some plays, Mark Sanchez will fumble, recover, and then throw an incompletion.
Sanchez fumbles after a shotgun snap.
Mark throws, awkwardly, while being taken down.
The ball lands far from any Jet WR, just hitting the ground before potentially being intercepted.
Verdict: Unlike the last play, this one is completely on Mark Sanchez. From fumbling the snap to the unadvised throw, it was a mess.
Week 3 Final Word
The Jets leave Miami with a 'W' in the win/loss column, but no player should've been happy with their performance. Including Mark Sanchez, who forced way too many throws. He suffered to understand pressure and timing, and it showed in his stat line, correctly.
Week 4 would see another Jet going down to injury, and a 34-0 finish. The San Francisco 49ers would completely dominate. Mark Sanchez's stat line: 13 for 29 (44.8%), 103 yds, 0 TDs to 1 INT.
Play 1: It's 3rd-and-3, during the first offensive drive for the Jets.
Holmes is the perfect target, past the 1st down marker.
Sanchez feels pressure and panics, running into a sack.
Verdict: Austin Howard does respectably, to hold Aldon Smith back as long as possible. Guard Matt Slauson loses his block for a second, which causes Sanchez to run, but Slauson recovers quickly. Mark could've thrown the ball before the pressure (had time), or not panic and throw with the pressure. Holmes was open throughout.
Play 2: Here's another sack, but this time, it's not on Mark Sanchez.
Verdict: Both Matt Slauson and Nick Mangold are destroyed by the fierce 49ers defense. The WRs all ran short routes, so were able to quickly receive a ball, but Sanchez was not given enough time to make a play.
Play 3: It's the third quarter of the game and things have been going pretty bad, so far. It won't get any better as the 49ers get an INT.
Verdict: Austin Howard loses his block, but Sanchez should recognize this, especially because he is throwing a dump-off to the right side. The ball deflects off a defender's hands, into Patrick Willis' arms.
Week 4 Final Word
It was a bad week for everyone on the Jets squad—a 31-0 finish reveals that. Still, Sanchez played nervous the entire game. The 49ers defense is tough, but an opposing QB has to maintain his composure to be successful. The word [composure] wasn't in his vocabularity Week 4.