Is Sanchez's development on solid ground?


The New York Jets are coming off their worst offensive performance. They scored no points and committed a season-high three turnovers in a 9-0 loss -- after their bye week and at home -- to the Green Bay Packers.

Wary fans might be wondering if second-year quarterback Mark Sanchez is about to wobble. His teammates, however, are convinced he'll stand tall Sunday against the Detroit Lions.

"No question," Jets right tackle Damien Woody said. "It's just not in his DNA to really pout about what happened. He's a fighter. He'll put that game behind him just like everybody else will, and we'll go out there and put together a good performance against Detroit."

Football Outsiders writer Vince Verhei is skeptical. He sees too much shakiness in Sanchez's game. In fact, he argues that Sanchez has regressed, and the Jets can expect more bounces to start going against them.

In an ESPN Insider column, Verhei points out Sanchez has a lower completion percentage and is averaging less distance per attempt than his rookie season.

While neither of Sanchez's two interceptions last week were his fault, and his total is way off last year's gaudy pace, Verhei notes defenders actually are getting to more passes this year. They're just not catching them. Opponents averaged 3.4 passes defensed a game against the Jets last year, but are averaging 5.0 this year.

Verhei writes:

In other words, Sanchez has avoided turnovers in 2010 not because he has been more careful with the ball but because opponents have been dropping their interception opportunities. As we've seen in the past two weeks, Sanchez will still make mistakes, and good defenses will be able to capitalize on them.

On the plus side, Sanchez has fumbled only once this year and didn't lose it. He fumbled 10 times last year, losing three.

But as a team, Verhei explains, "the Jets have had outrageous fortune falling on loose balls this year" and expects that trend to correct itself eventually.