- Jane McManus, Reporter & Columnist, espnW.com
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As Mark Sanchez gets started at his "Jets West" camp in California, his former wide receiver, Plaxico Burress, weighed in on the health of his former quarterback and why he may have thrown so few long passes last season.
“He definitely has enough arm,” Burress said in an interview with WFAN radio on Monday. “He was battling some injuries last year, shoulder-wise that a lot of people didn’t know about ... different things like that. But I think he really turned a corner.”
Burress has not signed with another team yet, and the market for veteran wide receivers seems to be constricting. So is the wide receiver just trying to excuse his own lack of production last season by pointing to his quarterback? Possibly, but there are some statistics that might be useful in vetting his comments.
In recent years the Jets have been cagey about injuries to their quarterbacks’ throwing arms. In 2008, Brett Favre revealed a persistent shoulder injury at the end of the season. In 2010, Sanchez’s shoulder was an ongoing storyline, and at the end of the season he opted against surgery.
Last season, Sanchez was not on the injury report for his shoulder, but had a neck injury listed in Week 15 and Week 16 that affected his throwing ability.
Sanchez only completed five passes longer than 21 yards all season. After the Nov. 17 loss in Denver, Sanchez was believed to have pinched a nerve in his neck. At any rate, his passing game suffered. He ended with 26 touchdowns and 18 interceptions for a 78.2 quarterback rating.
As an aside, ESPN Stats & Information analyzed the efficiency of all quarterback-receiver tandems where the quarterback attempted 100 passes and concluded that, of 29, Sanchez and Santonio Holmes came in last with a 50.5 percent completion rate.
The issue didn’t keep the Jets from bringing back Holmes, and they signed Sanchez to a three-year extension worth $20.5 million in guarantees. The team also signed former Denver starter Tim Tebow as the backup quarterback.
Earlier on an episode of ESPN's First Take, Burress said Tebow could be competing for the starting job.
"It's a possibility, you can't rule it out," said Burress, now a free agent. "I mean, they did bring him in for a reason. I think he's going to make Mark Sanchez a better quarterback. When they bring in somebody at your position, he's going to compete for it."