The Story is Sanchez

Rookie QB Mark Sanchez should be judged on his entire body of work when all 16 games are in the books.

But along the way, in a season of highs and lows, there are opportunities to measure instant progress.

The $50 million QB from the California sunshine experienced the ultimate high by shredding the Texans' defense in his first game. Since then, in what has been an uneven season for the entire Jets team, there have been a couple really ugly lows, none lower than his 5 INT meltdown against the Bills Oct. 18. The Jets piled up more than 300 rushing yards and managed to lose.

Tonight Sanchez can erase that performance, help get the Jets back to .500, and demonstrate the admirable guts that have kept him fighting this season—resilience that was absent in that first Bills match-up.

The 4-7 Bills are a bad football team, despite their 31-14 victory over the Dolphins on Sunday. They are also banged up in the secondary. Starting CB Terrence McGee and S Jarius Byrd are questionable and CB Ashton Youboty is out. It's time to do some damage, Mark.

The rookie QB is coming off a mostly clean performance against the Panthers, a game the Jets won because Carolina QB Jake Delhomme played like a rookie. However, it was a performance Sanchez can build upon. He brought himself under control, even if he needs Joe Girardi to teach him how to slide!

They say the game is too fast for some rookies to handle. In my view, Sanchez was going to fast and forcing too much. He needed to be reigned in, even if that meant taking a few sacks (3 vs. Carolina) instead of forcing the ball into coverage. He needed to simplify things, even if that meant head coach Rex Ryan hurting OC Brian Schottenheimer's feelings by doing what a head coach is supposed to do, which is oversee the whole team.

Where Ryan went wrong was not asserting himself in the offense earlier, you know, like in training camp! He didn't need to go public with it, either. Doing so made a no-big-deal development into a distracting story. Ryan is the HEAD COACH. It shouldn't have taken another Sanchez turnover bonanza (4 INTs vs. New England Nov. 22) for Ryan to step in.

So tonight Mark Sanchez can take the next step in Part Two of his season by demonstrating that he understands the game doesn't have to be won on every series. He needs to be more accurate, too. I've replayed in my head a bunch of times his interception on the slant route to WR Braylon Edwards in Sunday's 17-6 victory over the Panthers. Make that throw!

The headlines after the Carolina win heralded the Jets' playoff chances still alive! Come on. That's a stretch. Who, after watching the Jets so-so performance, thinks they can run off 5 straight wins? Does Jake Delhomme play for the Colts?

The story the rest of the season isn't the playoffs, it's Sanchez. That's interesting enough for me, since I never thought the Jets were a playoff team this season anyway, not even after the 3-0 start.

2) Another nice match-up tonight for CB Darrelle Revis: Terrell Owens, who's been hot lately. If Revis shuts him down, can there be any question of who's the best cover corner in the NFL?

3) Schottenheimer. Will he be back next season? That depends on how "stung" he really feels once the season's over. Ryan's control move might leave "Schotty" looking to move on if he can land another job where he'd get full autonomy again.

Jets brass wanted Schottenheimer back in 2009, essentially making head coaching candidates accept him as the offensive coordinator. It would be too bad if Mark Sanchez has to learn a new system next season.

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