There’s a lot of blame to go around for the offense’s woes this season. Mark Sanchez is usually more than willing to accept responsibility and the blame for these issues. But how much of the blame should be placed on Mark?
Going into the 2011 season, the Jets’ offense was overhauled. The Jets lost 3 receivers and their starting RT from the 2010 season. In their place was Plaxico Burress – who hadn’t played in 2 seasons, Derrick Mason – a 37 year old receiver, Jeremy Kerley – a rookie with a shortened offseason and Wayne Hunter – a 30 year old journey man who was once cut from Seattle after getting into a bar fight with his brother. What they lost was Braylon Edwards – a young receiver who provided a huge vertical threat, Jerricho Cotchery – always seemed to come up with a clutch reception, Brad Smith – a young receiver who had a vital role in the offense and Damien Woody – a rock solid piece to the offensive line.
What we have seen in 2011 are receivers who can’t get separation from their defenders and can’t put vertical pressure on the defense. We’ve seen an Offensive line struggle in pass protection - particularly at the right side where Woody held the fort for two years and run blocking. Add in an inconsistent running game and what you get is a tremendous amount of pressure put on Sanchez. With his postseason success, it’s easy to forget that Sanchez is only in his third season in the NFL. He still makes mistakes that most young QBs make, however it’s hard to deny that he has improved. Sanchez is currently 2nd in the AFC in passing touchdowns and led an offense that rates at the top in Red Zone scoring. The biggest culprit in the offensive woes this year is the O-Line. They have allowed 3 or more sacks in 7 games this year – it happened only twice in 2010. In those games the Jets are 2-5 and Mark has thrown 10 TDs to 9 INTs. In games where Sanchez was sacked 2 or fewer times the Jets are 6-2. In those games Sanchez threw for 14 TDs and only 6 INTs.
Another issue is the lack of the deep threat. Last year the Jets threw 11 passes that gained over 40 yards – 6th most in the NFL (tied with Green Bay and Pittsburgh and 1 more than New England) but this year only have 2 which is last in the league. The loss of Braylon Edwards contributes to this the most. Not only was he a deep threat down the field – he also opened up the underneath routes for Santonio Holmes who had a few big gainers off of the slant pass. Another area where the loss of Edwards is felt is in the running game. With no viable deep threat defenses are playing their safeties up which is causing issues for the running game. It’s easy to look at the offense’s struggles this year and want to place blame on the Quarterback. Unfortunately for that theory, when you dig deeper you realize that the issues lie elsewhere.