Seeing red inside the 20

November, 10, 2012
11/10/12
6:00
PM ET
SEATTLE -- A year ago, the Jets were the most efficient red-zone team in the NFL. This year, not so much.

QB Mark Sanchez, in particular, has slipped. He has a league-low 50.0 passer rating inside the opponents’ 20, including three interceptions, according to ESPN Stats & Information. That equals his interception total from last season. Check it out:

In 2011, Sanchez was 45-for-82 (54.9 percent), with 21 TDs and three interceptions -- a 92.0 passer rating. This season, he's 13-for-32 (40.6 percent), with eight TDs and three interceptions.

Sanchez's three turnovers (plus a fumble just outside the red zone) were momentum-changing plays because, in three cases, the opponent capitalized with a score. There’s nothing more deflating than blowing a scoring opportunity and having to watch it go the other way.

A breakdown of the turnovers:

1. At Dolphins, Week 3: Third-and-goal from the 7. Sanchez was intercepted by S Chris Clemons, but it wasn’t entirely his fault. TE Jeff Cumberland ran a bad route, bringing his man -- Clemons -- into the area where the ball was thrown, to WR Stephen Hill.

2. Texans, Week 4: Second-and-5 from the 12. Sanchez threw a quick slant to WR Jeremy Kerley, but DE J.J. Watt read it perfectly, timed his jump and tipped the ball to CB Brice McCain. He returned it 86 yards to set up a field goal before halftime, killing the Jets’ momentum.

3. 49ers, Week 5: Third-and-7 from the 25. This doesn’t count as a red-zone turnover because it occurred outside the 20, but Sanchez fumbled on a strip sack by OLB Aldon Smith. It was a mental mistake, as Sanchez tried to run up the middle and didn’t protect the ball properly. The 49ers recovered and rallied for a quick field goal before the half.

4. Dolphins, Week 8: Second-and-11 from the 15. Any chance of a comeback was erased with this third-quarter interception, a poorly thrown ball to TE Dustin Keller. The ball sailed high and behind Keller, and it was picked off by Clemons. Yeah, him again. What made this sting was, moments earlier, the Jets had recovered a Dolphins fumble. Instead of capitalizing, the Jets handed the momentum back to the Dolphins.

Sanchez on the red-zone problems:

"That’s where you have to be sharp and at our best, and we haven’t been this year. I know we’ve done it in the past here. Those turnovers -- a tipped ball here, forcing the ball to Dustin on one, a wrong route on another -- three of those led to interceptions. So those things just have to get cleaned up. Whatever we can do to fix it, we have to try and do it. We’ve identified some of those things, and that’s where our emphasis will be. We just have to keep playing smart and really take care of the ball and don’t hurt ourselves."

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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