2011 was a tough year for a number of players in the NFL. Be it season-ending injuries, dealing with unmet/unrealistic expectations, or even the occasional missed field goal (oops, sorry Baltimore). Though I think we all can agree nobody has had it worse than the NY Jets franchise quarterback, Mark Sanchez.
As a rookie NFL QB in 2009, Sanchez helped get the Jets to the AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts. A tough loss, but a glimpse of what was to come from the "Sanchize."
In 2010, fans and football fanatics alike were again gawking at the Jets as they made their way to the AFC Championship. This time against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and this time with the confidence and experience of last season's AFC Championship bout. Although the Jets failed to move onto the Super Bowl yet again, coaches, players, analysts and fans saw even more promise from the Jets young QB.
Enter Mark Sanchez in his third year as a starting NFL quarterback for the NY Jets; expectations were set high. Predictions were made stating the Jets would go 14-2, that Mark Sanchez would have a year that topped the previous two, and that they'd be Super Bowl champions (and by the way, it wasn't just Rex Ryan saying all of this).
Though, we all know how it turned out. Sanchez did not live up to "expectations" and throughout the season received a great deal of the blame for the Jets lack of progress. Fans, analysts, media, and even, *gasp*, bloggers, went to town on a team that had a coach some would call loud and arrogant, a team that had a quarterback who was accused of being "lazy" and "content," and a team who publically aired out their inner-locker room drama which some would say was the root cause of such a "flop" in 2011.
For what's been the past five to six months Sanchez has caught heat from all directions. Throughout the regular season he's addressed it in the most positive manner possible, and has stayed out of the lime light since the untimely end of the Jets' 2011 season. There's a lot of things still being said about Mark Sanchez; Many of those things, not so nice (I'm looking at you Jets fans, tsk tsk).
But while we sit back and either curse Sanchez up and down or simply listen to the chatter, I ask you this.
- How difficult is it to react and respond to personnel changes? Changes which not only effect how you play the game as an individual, but with a unit. Here's looking at you, Indianapolis.
- How many other NFL quarterbacks have you seen "break-out" in their fourth year? Does a recent SuperBowl MVP ring any bells?
- Didn't Mark Sanchez's stats actually increase this year as compared to 2009 and 2010? Better QB Rating, more completed passes, yards gained, touchdowns, etc. (okay okay, maybe a couple more fumbles and sacks this year...ya got me!)
Whether we agree or agree to disagree, I've seen a QB who's stayed positive, who's had to overcome a number of changes, and who's continually trying to work on his game and cares about the team he plays for.
He's taken it with stride and from what we're being told he's working on fixing his flaws and continuing to improve. I for one can't wait to see what he'll bring to us in his 4th year.
...and if he doesn't deliver after that? Then, let's talk. Until then, in Sanchez we trust?