Even as I watched the Patriots absolutely demolish the Jets in every facet of the game with a huge grin on my face last night, I couldn't help but wonder how we got to this point. Just two years ago, this same quarterback-coach duo of Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez was giving us fits and stealing playoff games from us in Foxboro.
So what is going on now? I'd like to get a discussion going in the comment section to see who people fault most. Any Jets fans lurking around on here I'd especially like to hear your opinions.
I'll get things started here by doing something I'm not sure I'm going to ever forgive myself for, and that is defending Mark Sanchez. Many people rail on Sanchez for being worthless and blame him for most of the Jets' troubles, but I see him as a talented player whose development has been catastrophically mismanaged over the years. First off, I have no faith in the way Sanchez was handled as a rookie, which was the old "he's not ready to run a complex offense, so we're going to dumb his reads way down and send him out there with training wheels on" strategy. If he's not ready to run the offense, don't put him in. End of story. Because what has happened in this case is Sanchez formed his NFL habits with a strong defense and running game covering for his lack of pocket awareness and ability to make reads. When you take his defense and running safety net away from him and expect him to be the guy, this is what you get.
Second of all, no quarterback - not even Tom Brady - can just walk onto a field with a random group of receivers and expect to have success throwing the football. We have seen Brady get acclimated to different receivers here in New England; it has only happened overnight once (Randy Moss) and sometimes it never happens at all (Ochocinco, Taylor Price, Joey Galloway just to name a few). We have seen around here that just because we have a Hall of Fame quarterback and some talented targets, they are not always able to get on the same page. My point here is that for the entirety of Mark Sanchez's career, there has been a revolving door of receivers year to year in New York. Every year, rather than making improvements to his game and developing in training camp, Sanchez has been forced to start at square one with new receivers. The only player he's had a chance to build any chemistry with is Dustin Keller, and if you caught the statistic during the game last night you saw that Sanchez's passer rating jumps something like 30 points this year when Keller is in the lineup.
As if all this weren't enough, Sanchez lost even more continuity this year when they changed offensive coordinators (although I think in the long run Tony Sparano is an upgrade over Schottenheimer). With all of this stuff in mind, I think Sanchez has been set up to fail from day one and that it is wrong to hold him fully responsible for the disaster in the Meadowlands this year.