A seemingly infinite supply of Mark Sanchez’s critics disappeared Sunday afternoon as the twenty-five year old Quarterback led the New York Jets to a surprising 48-28 victory over the Buffalo Bills.
Winning was not surprising, but given the doom and gloom typically attributed to Sanchez’s passing ability this offseason, his performance was anything but expected. Sanchez did not break any records, but he led a balanced offensive attack that crushed a supposedly improved Buffalo defense.
Sunday, the Jets ran for 118 yards after a 2011 season where their offense did not even average 106 yards per game on the ground, good for 22nd in the league.
Sanchez completed better than 70 percent of his passes, after a year of completing less than 60 percent of his passes. Against the Bills, Sanchez passed for three touchdowns, better than last season when he only threw three or more touchdowns twice. Various statistics could be cited, but the bottom line is Sanchez may be headed for a breakout season.
While the defense of the Jets could and will need to play better to become a regular AFC contender, the play of the Bills defense befuddled fans across the league.
After a season mostly comprised of mediocrity from the defensive end of things, Buffalo added a feared pass rusher in former Houston Texan Mario Williams.
One tackle and no sacks against the Jets leads to no improvement for the Bills defense, which, to be fair to Williams, was out of sync the entire game. Since 48 points are not allowed by any one player, so the entire defense must be blamed for that debacle.
Yet, as badly as the Bills defense played credit is due to the Jets offense. Shonn Greene ran for 96 yards and a touchdown, Santonio Holmes, Stephen Hill, Jeremy Kerley, and tight end Jeff Cumberland all had at least three receptions and caught over 30 yards. Sanchez and his offense could not have gotten off to a better and more balanced start.
This is without even mentioning the offensive line. By not allowing Sanchez to get sacked, the line gave him extra time in the pocket, allowing him to make better throws, which in turn opened up the running game. Everything starts at the offensive line and without their tough play, the Jets will not be able to continue to be as successful as they were in week one.
No week in the NFL can pass without -at a minimum- 17 million references to Tim Tebow.
The much maligned yet yearned for backup quarterback did next to nothing on the field. Whatever news outlet a fan used in the weeks leading up to this game, no story dominated the Jets the way that Tebowmania did. Rarely if ever does a quarterback whose career completion percentage is lower than Kobe Bryant’s career field goal percentage ever get talked about so much. But Tebow has his followers and as badly as he ever plays their commitment to Timmy is unwavering.
Thankfully for the Jets, for now at least, it seems as if Tebow’s effect on the field is not just mitigated, but absent altogether. Tebow only appeared in a handful of plays and simply made no difference for the Jets.
New York fans should revel in the satisfaction that comes with a big win like the one the Jets had against Buffalo. Sanchez is playing well, he seems to have enough weapons to pass to, and the running game performed as well as could have been expected, possibly even better. As long as Tebow stays off the field, the Jets could be headed back to the AFC championship game.