All Mark Sanchez wanted was a fourth win for the Jets, but the number four was most unfortuitous for the rookie last Sunday in New Orleans. He turned the ball over four times, he was sacked four times and a couple of his miscues directly turned into 14 Saints points as he tasted defeat for the first time as a pro.
“The most important thing was to get away from the emotional side,” Sanchez said this week. “Don’t get upset, frustrated, or mad at yourself. You have to move on for yourself, and for the rest of the guys in the locker room. Everybody is looking right here.”
When the team plane departed Louisiana, the grounded Sanchez looked at the video and reviewed his mistakes. He had no intention of sleeping off his first poor performance, which resulted in a 27.0 passer rating.
“I was trying to get an idea and then wake up early the next morning and go through my same routine,” he said. “Don’t change anything, don’t cut any corners, and don’t beat myself up too much. Just keep playing. I’ve shown that I can help this team win the last three weeks and that is what I need to do next week.”
The quartet of turnovers included a 99-yard interception scoring return from Darren Sharper to put the Jets down 10 in the second quarter and then a strip-sack in the end zone less than six minutes later that Remi Ayodele recovered to put the Green & White in a 17-point hole.
“I held the ball and somebody hit it out. There isn’t much you can do except try to throw it away earlier,” he said of the Will Smith strip. “The interceptions, those are just decision things, poor throws and I have to use my eyes a little better. That’s stuff we are working on constantly, and inevitably that’s going to happen to a rookie.”
The 22-year-old Sanchez certainly isn’t crushed, but he’s not complacent, either. Entering Week 5, he’s completed 57.3 percent of his passes for 744 yards with four touchdowns, five interceptions and two lost fumbles. The Jets certainly would like to see that touchdown/turnover ratio change around as the season progresses.
“There is no excuse for things like that,” he said of the turnovers. “I don’t care if it is my first year or my 13th year, I don’t want that to happen. I have a lot of work to do this week. I’m looking to bounce back and get back on track.”
Sanchez will get his chance on a national stage as the Jets pay a visit to the Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football. And he’ll do so with a new dynamic talent on the field as GM Mike Tannenbaum traded with the Browns for WR Braylon Edwards on Wednesday.
“He’s shown on film to just make great catches,” Sanchez said of the 6’3”, 215-pound Edwards. “Whether the ball is behind him, over his head, he has to dive – they are all catches. I am not planning on throwing anything too far out of reach.”
To this point, the defensive formula against the Jets has been to load the box to stop the run game and force the rookie into some difficult down-and-distance situations. The Jets are ranked ninth in rushing, but their pass offense ranks 27th (166.8 yards per game) and their scoring average is 25th (18.5 ppg).
The Jets believe Edwards will help the entire offense, serving as a true complement for Jerricho Cotchery (J-Co’s 356 yards rank fifth in the NFL) because he’s big, he can get downfield in a hurry, he can go up and get it, and he likes to mix it up and block.
“He’s an amazing talent,” Sanchez said. “He is going to do just fine here.”
The 1-3 Dolphins come into the divisional matchup with the NFL’s 24th-ranked pass defense, surrendering 238.5 yards a game, and the Jets could try to get Sanchez back on track early. He’s got a lot of passing targets at his disposal when you think of Cotchery, Edwards, Keller and also Leon Washington out of the backfield.
“I can tell that Mark has a very good grasp of what Brian [Schottenheimer] is trying to do with him down there from an offensive standpoint. He gets the ball out fast,” said Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano. “He’s a tough player. He has the ability to hurt you and break you down with the second play, meaning he can run with the football, so you’ve got to be aware of him that way. And the guy has outstanding arm strength, real good, and he’s patient.”
Sanchez said he learned some “valuable lessons” from the Saints game and he’s “ready to bounce back.” Jets head coach Rex Ryan is not worried at all about the rookie’s upcoming response.
“He’s like a tiger. He’s going to come roaring back, there is no doubt,” Ryan said. “I have 100 percent confidence in him.”
Tags: Braylon Edwards, Jerricho Cotchery, Mark Sanchez, Miami Dolphins, Monday Night Football, Rex Ryan, Tony Sparano
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