Mark Sanchez: "In The Process"

A look at how Jets' quarterback Mark Sanchez did in the recent OTA, from how his knee is holding up to what appears to be a newer, faster release.

Florham Park, NJ - Chances are that this year, the Jets will go as far as their quarterback will take them. The team, an intriguing blend of veterans and youth, will need Mark Sanchez to take a significant step forward and build on last season. Last year, the Jets rode a mistake-free effort from their first round pick through a late season surge and a post-season run. If the Jets want to win the AFC East this year and once again push towards just their second Super Bowl appearance in franchise history, they will need Sanchez to improve on his decision making ability.

A look at the Jets' quarterbacks during last week's OTA:

Mark Sanchez – Despite the presence of the brace on his left knee, Sanchez showed good mobility in passing drills and during 7 on 7 drills. His release seems faster this year than last year, a quicker motion getting the ball out of his hand in a crisper movement.

Sanchez also seemed to have a bit of a tighter spiral on display during the OTA session. While conditions were pristine last Thursday with no wind and a perfectly sunny sky, the tighter spiral becomes more important with the notoriously windy conditions of the Meadowlands and the cold weather conditions in several of the team's AFC stops on the road.

The now second year starter still seemed to struggle with his decision making, often hurrying a pass and remaining in the pocket a bit too long – but perhaps an offense needing time to gel was more to blame for Sanchez's inability to find an open receiver.

Issues remained with the Jets' receivers unable to get open down field, limiting Sanchez to dump passes to his backfield or short gains to tight end Dustin Keller over the middle. Once again, this might be the sign of an offense still coming together in early June – coupled with the fact that the secondary this team faces in practice might be the best one they face all year.

On designed roll-outs, Sanchez looked solid and showed good mobility and movement side to side; no signs of the knee injury slowing him down or hampering him in any way.

"Everyday it's feeling better and that's been key," Sanchez said. "After long days of work and lower body lifting days, the big thing is coming back the next day not swollen, achy or hurting. It's been great.". His arm strength remains a fundamental part to his game, as he effortlessly hit David Clowney towards the end of practice with a 40-yard pass. Clowney caught the ball in stride, over his shoulder, to race into the end zone.

In terms of overall confidence with the offense, Sanchez is a far different player than last year, when the rookie was just starting to grasp the playbook. Despite the fact that he is held out of 11 on 11 drills – though Sanchez did sneak into at least one drill to participate – Sanchez is using this spring to get a better grasp of the offense.

Sanchez, who showed a bit more of a vocal side during the OTA session, running around and picking up his teammates on offense and congratulating receivers on good catches, showed his knowledge of the playbook. The quarterback read all his progressions well and accurately, knowing when to throw towards the sideline or away from a defender based on what the other side was giving him. While he still had a tendency to force the ball into tight places, Sanchez was far more confident and poised in the huddle and the pocket then this time last year.

"When we get up to the line and we're making checks, I just feel more confident with the audible mechanics, route depth and now getting into fine details of where the receivers' splits are supposed to be, how deep is cover two versus cover three (which) are little nuances of our offense that are coming even more and more natural," Sanchez said. "I feel great about it. That's the point. As the quarterback, you want to master it and make that offense your own. That's what I'm in the process of doing."

Kristian R. Dyer can be reached for questions, comments and crude remarks at KristianRDyer@yahoo.com and followed at twitter.com/kdyer1012

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