Rex Ryan: Last year’s problems weren’t all Mark Sanchez’s fault

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Jets coach Rex Ryan is continuing to say publicly that he’s confident in quarterback Mark Sanchez, and he’s stressing that just because last season was a disappointment, that doesn’t mean Sanchez is no longer the right man to lead the franchise.

Ryan said on the Dan Patrick Show that while it’s true Sanchez had too many turnovers last season, Sanchez also showed some signs of improvement as a passer, and it’s a stretch to say Sanchez is the reason the Jets missed the playoffs.

“The touchdowns went up, but the interceptions obviously, the turnovers in general, we fumbled the ball quite a bit, we threw the interceptions, things like that,” Ryan said. “But it’s a team deal. Sometimes protection contributes to it. Sometimes it’s this or that but it always gets pointed at the quarterback. But it certainly wasn’t all Mark’s fault, that’s for sure.”

It’s obviously true that the problems with the Jets weren’t all Sanchez’s fault, and Ryan makes a fair point when he notes that Sanchez showed some progress as a passer: Sanchez actually had the highest passer rating of his career in 2011, and he also had career highs in completions, completion percentage, passing yards and touchdowns.

However, turnovers are a major concern. In addition to throwing 18 interceptions, Sanchez has always fumbled too much. In his first couple of years in the league, his fumbles were largely overlooked because the Jets recovered most of them: In 2009 he fumbled 10 times but only lost three of them, and in 2010 he fumbled nine times but only lost one of them. It was only in 2011, when he fumbled 10 times and lost eight of them, that people started to notice that his inability to take care of the ball when he’s under pressure is a serious problem.

But Ryan thinks Sanchez generally has a knack for playing well under pressure, and that Sanchez has shown that in the Jets’ back-to-back trips to the AFC Championship Game in his first two seasons.

“This young man’s won a lot of games — won a lot of postseason games on the road. Four playoff games on the road. There’s a lot of guys that haven’t won one playoff game. This guy’s already accomplished quite a bit in his young career,” Ryan said. “Dan Marino never won a Super Bowl, but — and I’m not saying Mark Sanchez is Dan Marino — but I think when you look at it, the big picture of things, this is his fourth season. Never had an offseason. I think every young quarterback took a step back last year, with the exception of maybe the young man, [Matthew] Stafford from Detroit, almost every other young quarterback took a step back. And I think that was a product of not having an offseason. I think Mark is going to take a big step forward.”

The evidence Ryan has for Sanchez taking a big step forward comes mostly from his offseason work, where Ryan says Sanchez is working as hard as anyone.

“This has been a tremendous offseason for him,” Ryan said. “He looks strong, he’s throwing the ball with accuracy, he’s got a lot of zip on the ball, he looks really comfortable in the pocket, learning a brand new offense he looks comfortable. He’s the guy who knows the offense better than anybody, and he takes a great deal of pride in that. He spends hours and hours in preparation and that’s obvious to his teammates as well. So I think he’s had a tremendous offseason.”

After getting too much credit for the Jets riding their defense and running attack to the AFC Championship Game in his first two years, Sanchez got too much blame for the Jets missing the playoffs last season. But that sounds like excusing Sanchez, and Jets fans don’t want to hear excuses right now. And if the Jets struggle early this season like they struggled late last season, Jets fans are going to be calling for Sanchez to get the hook, even if the problems again aren’t all Sanchez’s fault.

49 responses to “Rex Ryan: Last year’s problems weren’t all Mark Sanchez’s fault

  1. Hey Rex, how long is Sanchez going to get by on those four road playoff wins that never won him a Super Bowl? This season will mark the end of the Ryan/Sanchez Era.

  2. I don’t see what’s really wrong with anything quoted here from RR. Granted RR goes overboard with the praise for his players sometimes but a HC should NEVER trash talk his players in the media. As long as he’s coaching them hard and holding them accountable away from the media’s eyes, that’s what matters most.

  3. You’re right fatty, they were you fault along with ownership and your crappy GM.

    You don’t care about the guys already on the team, but you’ll bend over backwards for a diva like Holmes.

    Great locker room atmosphere you must have, and Sanchez is a such a pansy he just lost in a sea of morons.

  4. Gotta love this man. He is in such denial about Sanchez. Those 4 playoff road victories were despite Sanchez, not because of him.

    Sanchez, lol…give me a break.

  5. Ryan inherited a very good team. Added some players and they were close. The old guy, Bert Favor and then the young guy, Sanchez.

    Too bad you didn’t give the best QB a shot, Pennington. I know, the hurt guy.

    Jets have been every bit as good as the Giants the last few years, except for that glaring category. QB.

    You shouldn’t promise Super Bowls without a QB.

    I GUARANTEE Rex would forfeit a years salary, Sanchez and next years entire draft for one Eli Manning.

    Point being : Sanchez may be good enough someday but the rest of the team may not be.

  6. Only fools use surface team accomplishments to make all-or-nothing proclamations about individual players (which makes most fans and almost all analysts fools). The idea that “sanchez won four road playoff games, therefore sanchez is good” is the most over-used, under-supported paradigm in american professional sports (“eli is elite” may be a close second). The bottom line is that sanchez has been riding the coat-tails of an excellent defense, and would have accomplished nothing so far if on almost any other team; grossman and dilfer made/won super bowls, yet no one spends countless hours defending them as top players. Can quarterbacks be given credit for team success? Yes. But not without first considering whether the the team won because of the quarterback or in spite of him.

  7. Jets will get used to Sparano’s fist pumping for field goals. It’s almost as pathetic as Wannsteadt’s philosophy that a punt is a good play. Ha ha, you are doomed in NY.

  8. “Dan Marino never won a Super Bowl, but — and I’m not saying Mark Sanchez is Dan Marino — but I think when you look at it, the big picture of things, this is his fourth season. >>>>Never had an offseason. <<<<<

    does he just eat mcdonalds with McKnight?

  9. Sanchez was progressing his first two seasons, last year he went into reverse. The one thing I liked about him early is that he wanted the ball in crunch time, playing well in comebacks & the 4th quarter. Last year he just stunk. This year is make or break for him, should be interesting if nothing else…

  10. That photo of Joe Banner is starting to creep me out

    Try staring at that mug for almost 20 years! Saying words like “gold standard” and “cap-enomics.”

  11. screenjam110:

    Too bad you didnt watch any of those playoff games where you claim the Jets won despite Mark Sanchez, not because of him. Maybe next time watch the games in question before commenting on them?

    Not only did they win those games because of him, in two of those games he was arguably the best player on the field, against the Bengals and Patriots. He played alright in the other 2 wins against the Colts and Chargers, but in both of those he led a game winning TD drive in the 4th quarter (and outplayed Rivers in SD game). Then you have to add in his stellar play against PITT (where he vastly outplayed Big Ben, statistically had more than 3 times higher Ben’s QB rating) and against the Colts where he was also great but Peyton was on fire.

    All in all, having a 9-3 TD-INT ratio, a 60% completion percentage, and a 94+ QB rating ranking 7th all time in NFL playoff history is pretty dam good, especially his first 2 years in the league. How do you like them apples? But seriously, dont comment anymore on games you never even watched. You could have even looked in the boxscore for those games without watching and you would still notice that your comments are abusrd.

  12. I was at the Jet-Houston game in 2010. 52 seconds left 80 yards away and no timeouts. 4 passes 80 yards touchdown 6 seconds left. Know how many Jet quarterbacks in history did that- zero. Defense did not do it- Sanchez did.

    Why is Sanchez good at end of games- the ball is out of Shottenheimer’s hands. Shott is the problem. He was the worst. Thank God his is gone. The Jets only had 4 pass plays last year- the slant, the checkdown, a screen and a play action cross to Keller. That was it. And apparently to call one of those 4 plays it took 20 seconds of 46-alpha – z double- bravo right crap that when on for ever.

    No one was open. When did Sanchex miss a wide open reciever? He forced balls in because the pass plays did not fool anyone?

    The last 2 pass plays in the Houston game to Edwards and Holmes never made it once to 2011. Unbelievable.

    I am not thrilled with Sparano but anything is an improvement.

    You guys who hate Sanchez must be 19 and have never lived through any pre-Pennington Jet quarterbacks and don’t know what bad is.

  13. Of course, he’s right, but he’ll take flak for saying it just because he’s Rex Ryan.

    I mean, the Jets downgraded from Damien Woody to Wayne Hunter, who gave up 11 sacks, 11 hits and 32 pressures, they lost Nick Mangold for a crucial stretch of road games, lost Jim Leonhard for the season again, Eric Smith at safety as well as our linebackers are slow, not much of a pass rush threat and a liability in coverage, our D-Line doesn’t generate much pressure, the ground and pound run game went from one of the best in the league to 22nd, the offensive coordinator was awful, regularly forgetting about Santonio Holmes and Dustin Keller, and often making Sanchez pass far too much (40+ attempts against the NYG is still a WTF to this day), and never, ever taking shots downfield. So yeah, how is all of this Sanchez’s fault?

    If you look at Sanchez himself, he’s not nearly as bad as he’s made out to be. At the time that I’m writing this, we’ve already got two “brilliant” JaMarkus jokes already, but how does that hold up?

    Mark Sanchez, 2011:
    543 attempts, 308 completions, 56.7%, 3,474 yards, 26 TD passes (6 rushing), 18 INT’s (10 fumbles) and a 78.2 rating.

    So the reality is we’re treating a guy who is 3.3% more completions away from 60%, 526 yards from 4,000, and 4 passing TD’s away from 30 like a complete chump. Look, obviously there is room for improvement, the fumbles are horrifying (even if at least 3 weren’t his fault) and the interceptions have to be cut back too, but you can’t just quit on a QB because he hasn’t built you a dynasty in his first 3 years in the league. If the Giants quit on Eli Manning they’d be short 2 rings. If the Chargers stuck with their QB, they might have a ring, instead of New Orleans. If the Steelers quit on a young, terrible QB named Terry Bradshaw they’d have 4 less rings and we wouldn’t have a lovely troll who will remind us how many they have, lest we forget. Hmm, maybe bailing on your QB is for the best after all.

  14. “It helped even more when we stopped color coding plays on his arm band and just blacked them all out.”

  15. Jets have been every bit as good as the Giants the last few years, except for that glaring category. QB.??

    Really? What about a pass rush? The G-Men have it… the wets dont period.

  16. Dear Rex,

    Please don’t use Mark Sanchez name anywhere within 1,220 miles of Dan Marino.

    Thank you!

    All Normal People w/ a Brain

  17. He is right. Sanchez was not to blame for last sucking last season. The rest of the team just didn’t play as well… And being that Sanchez was NEVER good and was riding on all the other players that got him to those AFC Championship games, when they showed signs of weakness, he was exposed for the c*ap player he is. He had his best statistical season as a QB in every aspect. It wasn’t his season htat got worse, he was always bad. Get over it. McElroy is the best and ONLY real QB on that team but sadly, he will never get a chance because crybaby Sanchez and Teblow are on that team. All about the press right Woody?

  18. Wow! I thought the comment section was bad, but this clearly takes the cake! The majority of you are obviously teenagers who know very little about football. Sanchez needs to improve, but hes way better than hes given credit for. Its a waste of time reading most of these comments. And for the idiots who say the jets won their playoff games in spite of Sanchez, you must have missed his 3 td performance against NE when he outplayed Brady. Seriously though, this comment section is disgraceful

  19. I heard the interview. Fill-in host Chris Mannix was such an idiot he actually said that Sanchez’s touchdowns went down and Rex had to correct him!!!!!!!!!

    How stupid do you have to be to not look at a damn online stat sheet!!!!

    Here you go Chris. Here are the stats if you need them!!!
    2010: 17 TD-13 INT
    2011: 25 TD-18 INT

  20. Sorry, but how dumb do you have to be to work on ‘The Dan Patrick Show’????

    Sanchez’s touchdowns went down???

  21. footballfan80: you seemed to direct your comment toward someone named screenjam but i think you were responding to me, so let me address your points.

    first of all, i was making a general comment that the team success under rex ryan has been largely in spite of mark sanchez, which is much different than claiming mark sanchez has never done anything to win any singular game in the NFL. i’ve seen virtually every game for the jets, playoffs or otherwise, and yes, i have noticed that sanchez has a tendency to raise his level of play in big games/moments.

    that being said, it would be difficult for him to lower it…his first year in the league, sanchez was quite possibly the worst starting QB in the NFL, and needed an undefeated colt team to lie down to make the playoffs with the league’s best defense. Did he have a couple good playoff games? Sure. But he never would’ve even been remotely close to the playoffs on any other team in the NFL.

    People of your ilk want to throw out stupid statistics (e.g. 7th all-time in playoff quarterback rating) that seem to vindicate sanchez at face-value but don’t (too small of a sample size, plus quarterback rating is a flawed statistic anyway). It’s funny that you menton watching games…I’ve watched sanchez for three years, and you know what I see? A small, skittish, weak-armed quarterback who has major problems with ball security and downfield throws, but nonetheless has made some good plays in crunch time. I’m glad you guys are happy with him, but as soon as the team goes from barely making the playoffs to barely missing them, like they did last year, you won’t be able to cite sanchez’s greatness based on 2 good games following games at a 30.0 QBR.

  22. Sanchez needs to stop playing scared after he experiences the smallest amount of pressure. Stand tall, make your reads and deliver the ball. You’re a football player, you will get hit. Stop being so skittish and prone to happy feet. If you’re scared get a dog and a safer job.

  23. Sanchez’ number one, overall problem is that he suffers from dry labia. The chaffing causes him a painful rash. It’s hard to concentrate and hold on to the football in the NFL when your vagina is on fire.

  24. danthman42:

    I happen to agree with most of your points, most notably all the weaknesses you listed in Sanchez’s play. No Jet fan and even biggest Sanchez supporter would ever tell you he is awesome and there is no room for improvement. There is clearly substantial room for improvement, no doubt. With that being said, he is not a 10 year veteran who reached his prime. Like others have mentioned, if teams gave up on QB’s after 3 years then the history of the NFL would have changed. Giants would have zero rings over the last few years, and the Chargers could conceivably have a ring instead of the Saints. He has clearly improved each of the last 3 years, and has shown his tendency to greatly increase his level of play in playoff games. Would you prefer to have your QB have very solid regular seasons, and repeatedly not show up in the postseason? Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco cough, cough. Or maybe a guy who regresses each season? Josh Freeman, cough cough.

    The main points you lost me on were the small sample size of playoff games. First of all, it was not 2 games that is the sample size in question. It was 6 games, those are the games he accumulated the stats I mentioned. Also note, I dont think anyone could argue that the Jets lost those 2 playoff games because of Sanchez. In fact, they lost both those games because of the defense. He was stellar in both those losses. You can either rewatch the games or at a minimum check the box score of those two losses.

    Second of all, six games is not at all a small sample size for playoff stats. Most starting QB’s dont play in 6 playoff games in their entire careers, let alone in their first 3 seasons.

    And lastly, you mentioned that QB rating is a flawed stat. It is widely accepted as the most reasonable stat to assess a QB’s performance. Is it flawed? Absolutely, it doesnt take certain things into account like lost fumbles, rushing yards, wins etc. But in that regard every stat is flawed and can never incorporate everything. I definitely laughed at the end when you mentioned QBR. Kind of crazy to bash the QB rating and then all of a sudden attempt to emphasize the QBR. The QBR is not even an official statistic, and therefore is not tracked by the NFL. It was only implemented last year by ESPN. It has absolutely no affiliation with the NFL.

    I would also add that you can’t criticize Sanchez or even the Jets that matter for having other teams lay down. For the Colts game, who ever said if the Colts didn’t lay down the Jets would have lost? The Colts took out their starters in the 3rd quarter when they were up 15-11. Has no team ever recovered from a 3rd quarter 4 point deficit?

    As far as the Bengals laying down, would it have mattered? They still beat them pretty good in their stadium the following week when the game actually mattered.

    And no, Sanchez was clearly not the worst starter that season. Take the immensely talented (rookie as well) Stafford and you have yourself a QB who was just as bad or worse than Sanchez that season.

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