Sanchez's 2011 struggles under microscope

March, 10, 2012
3/10/12
4:02
PM ET
Mark Sanchez
Sanchez
Mark Sanchez committed 26 turnovers last season, the second-highest total in the NFL.

But that didn't deter the New York Jets from giving their quarterback a contract extension for five total years for $58.25 million, with $20.5 million fully guaranteed in 2012 and 2013.

The most visible of Sanchez’s highly-publicized struggles last season was his regression on downfield throws. In his rookie season in 2009, he completed under 33 percent of his passes that traveled 20 yards downfield. His completion percentage on such deep balls has dropped in each subsequent season since then.

Sanchez’s struggles throwing deep may have led to a tighter rein on the quarterback. In his first two pro seasons, he averaged 9.2 air yards per attempt (seventh among 39 qualified quarterbacks).

However, this year Sanchez averaged 7.8 air yards per attempt (25th among 34 qualified quarterbacks).

Mark Sanchez had a 2.1 Total QBR on plays when he was under duress or hit while throwing last season, worst in the NFL among qualified quarterbacks.

How can the Jets ensure that Sanchez can turn the tide and improve these key metrics next season? One option is running the ball more like they did in his successful rookie season.

The Jets ran the ball about 42 percent of the time last season, a far cry from the 58 percent they had en route to the 2009 AFC Championship Game.

That diminished running threat seemed to impact their play-action game. Sanchez’s Total QBR on play-action plays was 63.0 in his first two seasons but that plummeted to 34.0 last season.

There's been speculation that the Jets should get new wide receivers to help Sanchez's struggles. While Dustin Keller ranked sixth among tight ends in receiving yards (815), Sanchez especially struggled targeting his wide receivers.

Last season, his 6.5 yards per pass attempt towards wideouts ranked 32nd in the league.

And now for possibly the scariest stat if you think that Sanchez's past could be a predictor of his future production during the span of this new contract.

A quarterback’s Points Above Average (PAA) represents the number of points that a quarterback contributed to his team above what an average quarterback would contribute in the same number of plays.

Since Mark Sanchez entered the league in 2009, no other quarterback has cost his team more points than if replaced by an average quarterback.

-- Doug Clawson contributed to this report.

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