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Thursday, December 29, 2011
Is neck affecting Sanchez's long passes?

By Rich Cimini

Let's do a little detective work here.

Mark Sanchez's proficiency on deep passes started to drop off six games ago, according to ESPN Stats & Information. That means it started with the Nov. 17 loss in Denver, where it's believed he suffered a pinched nerve in his neck. In fact, he first appeared on the Jets' injury report the week after the Denver game.

Though he never missed any practice time due to the injury (at least that's what the Jets tell us), a neck/right shoulder injury shouldn't be dismissed as a nothing deal, especially for a right-handed quarterback.

Facts are facts. Sanchez has regressed on downfield passes this season, completing only 34.9 percent of his throws traveling 15 or more yards. In 2010, his mark was 41.7 percent.

Sanchez has specifically struggled over his last 6 games, completing only 17.1 percent of throws on such distances, the worst rate in the league. Obviously, other factors come into play -- namely inconsistent pass protection and the receivers' inability to separate and get deep.

But don't overlook the neck; it's an issue. Sanchez aggravated it two weeks ago in Philadelphia and he spent countless hours in the trainer's room, rehabbing before the Giants game. (Another reason why passing 59 times made no sense.) Against the Giants, he was 0-for-8 on passes of 15+ yards, including two interceptions.

Sanchez Passing 15+ Yards Downfield, Last 2 Seasons

Category -- 2010 -- 2011

Comp pct ... 41.7 ... 34.9*
Yds/att ....... 11.0 .... 8.3
Total QBR ... 89.2 .... 55.9

Last 6 games: 6-for-35 (17.1 percent).