One of the main storylines to Sunday’s season-opening success against the Bills was the accuracy of the quarterback’s throws. And the secret to Mark Sanchez’s day was really no secret.
“Fundamentally, Mark had great confidence in his protection,” head coach Rex Ryan said this midday at his day-after-the-game news conference. “When guys did come open, he was ale to step up and make throws. He was very accurate with the football. There were probably a couple of throws he wishes he had back, but overall I thought he did a tremendous job.
“I just saw that confidence. I saw it in the pregame. I’m not so sure I’ve ever seen that before. I’ve seen him have some great games, but he was bouncing around, zipping it. I sensed he was really feeling it.”
Sanchez said as much following the 48-28 verdict.
“Just having the time to throw is the most important thing,” he said after his efficient 19-for-27, 266-yard, three-TD, one-INT game. “We’re putting a lot of pressure on those guys up front to give me more time and they did a great job doing that. Then the wideouts made great plays. They’re not all perfect. The balls aren’t all perfect, but our guys found a way to catch them and get some yards after the catch, which is nice.”
Yes, we can caution that Sanchez beat up on a young secondary, going over the top of second-year man Aaron Williams and first-round pick Stephon Gilmore on the corners and that he’ll need to ace tougher tests ahead, beginning with the Steelers at Pittsburgh on Sunday.
But while many of the criticisms Mark’s heard in his first three seasons are valid, some of his shortcomings came against imperfect defenses like the Bills. Today Sanchez deserves his kudos for trusting his line as it kept the Buffalo D-line herd out of his pasture and getting Sunday’s job done.
■ Sanchez’s 70.4% completion rate was just what fans and reporters have been clamoring for. It was the fifth-best of his career, behind the 76.5% (13-for-17) vs. Carolina and 80% (12-for-15) at Cincinnati in the playoffs in ’09, and 70.8% (17-for-24) vs. Jacksonville and 71.4% at Buffalo last year.
■ No one was beating him up more than he was for that too-hard, too-inaccurate shovel for Jeff Cumberland that turned into his only giveaway of the game. But while it’s not statistically honest to lop off that first drive from his passing numbers for the day, it may be revealing to at least note that after the interception, Sanchez was 17-for-23 for 248 yards and his three scoring strikes. The 148.2 rating for that line would have been the highest of his career if it had been his line for the entire game.
■ One of the Jets’ aims for this game was to control third down, and at least offensively they got that done. Their 71.4% third-down conversion rate was their best in a game since late 2004, when they converted 11 of 14 (78.6%) against Seattle. They converted their first six third downs, all on Sanchez completions, the best from the start of a game since they hit their first seven in the “Win And We’re In” game vs. the Bengals in ’09. And Sanchez’s passing line (8-for-10, 92 yards, one TD, 138.3 rating) was one of the best of his career.
“I think he’s got a great grasp of this system even though it’s a new system,” Ryan said today. “He knows the opponents, he now knows what it takes to play in this league. He said when he came in as a rookie that one of these days he was going to be a strength of our team. You look at it now, he certainly is.”
And Rex, Mark, Tony Sparano, the line and the entire offense know that in six days it’ll be “What have you done for us lately?” Let’s see if Sanchez and company can string two together.
Ryan confirmed that CB Darrelle Revis suffered a “slight concussion” in the fourth quarter, when he extended to trip up RB C.J. Spiller and got a Bart Scott foot to the back of his helmet.
“I know the NFL protocol. I’ll always lean on our trainers and doctors,” Rex said about the early prognosis for Revis to play the Steelers back in his hometown. “Anything with any injury at all but especially a head injury of any kind, I’m going to err on the side of caution, so we’ll see how he progresses during the week.”
The coach had no updates on the hamstrings of LB Bryan Thomas and WR Patrick Turner, injured during the game, and TE Dustin Keller, who had one catch for 7 yards in his limited action due to his sore hamstring from the Carolina preseason game.
Not all was perfection vs. the Bills. Ryan mentioned that “we have some things to correct, and we look forward to getting on the practice field to getting that done.”
One was the defense’s run tackling. Credit surely goes to C.J. Spiller for making a number of Jets miss as he rolled to 169 yards on 14 carries, including his 56-yard TD run and his 49-yard run to the 2-yard line to set up another score.
“The tackling was poor, to say the least,” Ryan said. “Sometimes when you get up like that, you can’t have any kind of lapse, and I kind of felt we did. I’m not taking anything away from Buffalo. They certainly did a good job on offense.”
So good that their 7.5 yards per carry was the 11th-highest average by an opponent in Jets history and the second-highest in the last 10 years. The only opponent better in that span was the Bengals with their 7.8 in the Jets’ ’09 playoff win.
Also mentioned by the coach: RB Shonn Greene’s “uncharacteristic” two fumbles, both recovered by the Jets, one by Greene at the Bills 43 in the second quarter, the other by D’Brickashaw Ferguson in the end zone inside the final two minutes, with the ball going back to the Buffalo 1. And Rex said “I never want to see Yeremiah [Bell] pitch that ball, either,” on the Bell recovery of the LaRon Landry force against Spiller.
“Inside the Jets” Returns
“Inside the Jets,” hosted by Bob Wischusen, is back on the air tonight from 7-8 p.m. at the Grasshopper in Morristown. ESPN New York 98.7 will broadcast the show, whose guests are expected to be WR Stephen Hill and T Austin Howard.
Marv Albert and Rich Gannon were in the CBS booth for the game. It was the 98th Jets game Marv has called in his illustrious career, and it was the 11th Jets opener he worked — but the first since 1995 at Miami for NBC.
Tags: Buffalo Bills, Darrelle Revis, Mark Sanchez, Marv Albert, PIttsburgh Steelers, Rex Ryan, Shonn Greene, Stephen Hill, Yeremiah Bell
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