200 Miles From the Citi

August 31, 2009 11:45 PM


I just finished watching the NFL Network's rebroadcast of the Jets-Giants preseason game - the first for the Jets since Mark Sanchez was named the starter.

The impression I came away with after watching Sanchez's performance: The Jets will be OK.

I'm not saying that you can tell everything from the preseason, but 13-20, 149 yards, 1 touchdown will make you feel good about your rookie quarterback.

When I first saw the numbers, I was excited, but I wanted to hold full judgment until I saw more than just the ESPN highlights (which basically consisted of the touchdown pass to Chansi Stuckey, pictured at right).

There was another highlight-reel play which I hadn't seen, and it came earlier on the same drive as the Stuckey touchdown. And it made me realize a disturbing trend that is worth keeping an eye on.

It's the same problem that plagued Chad Pennington in his final years in New York, caused Kellen Clemens so many problems in his brief time as Jets starter, and threatens what is looking like a promising career for Sanchez.

He doesn't have much time to throw.

Both the Stuckey touchdown and the pass earlier in the drive, also to Stuckey, were thrown by Sanchez as he avoided a rush. He was on the run, if I remember correctly, when he threw his touchdown to Leon Washington against the Ravens last week. Rarely have I seeen Sanchez throw a pass when he has had time to get set in the pocket (though I have seen it, and he looks fine, no surprise, in those situations).

Listen, it's preseason. Just as it's too early to tell if Sanchez will be a star because of his preseason numbers, it's too early to tell if the offensive line will be a disaster. But it's certainly not something to be thrilled about - Sanchez has taken more than his share of hits in August.

The third preseason game, as I'm sure you're well aware by now, is the dress rehearsal. The starters will see very limited action in the fourth exhibition game, so Sanchez likely won't take a hit Thursday night against the Eagles (and won't it be nice that the media focus will be on the Eagles and Michael Vick and not the Jets and Sanchez that night). But he will likely take many hits in his first few regular season starts, unless the O-line gets their act together fast.

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