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Flacco gives Jets a blueprint for Sanchez

6/23/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
The formula worked for Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens last year.

A rookie with uninspiring receivers can, in fact, quarterback an NFL team to the playoffs. Just surround him with a legit offensive line and a dynamic running game while persecuting him during the week.

That's the same situation New York Jets bonus baby Mark Sanchez could find himself in this year.

One of the league's best O-lines returns intact. Two running backs went to the Pro Bowl last year, and the Jets drafted the Doak Walker Award winner.

And Sanchez will get to face the same tormentor Flacco did.

Flacco credits Rex Ryan for toughening him up at practice. Ryan, the former Ravens defensive coordinator, is the Jets' new head coach.

"He throws so many things at you," Flacco told Newark Star-Ledger reporter Andy McCullough. "There's not really a look that you see during the season that you haven't seen from him. So when you're able to go against it every day, it's a huge plus, a huge benefit.

"You might not realize it during that day, when you're getting beat up by it and everything like that. But in the long run, it really helps you out. [Sanchez] will benefit from that."

Flacco, the 18th overall draft pick, started every game last year. He was no world-beater, but he was good enough to get them to the AFC Championship. Flacco completed 60 percent of his passes for 2,971 yards, 14 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. His 80.3 passer rating was 22nd in the league.

The main objective was to not screw up and to let Baltimore's defense control the game.

Many expect Ryan to apply that philosophy with Sanchez. A considerable portion of that plan would be to get Sanchez's head spinning at practice so the game slows down for him.

"It's a challenge every day," Flacco said. Ryan "is good at what he does. He gets defensive guys ready to play. So when you go out there against it every day, it really makes it that much better, because you realize how much better our guys were last year -- we felt -- than the rest of the guys.

"Going against those guys all summer long and training camp, we didn't even really know how much it was going to prepare us. It's unbelievable because he just throws so many different looks at you, and they do them all so well."