Saturday, September 19, 2009

Broadway Mark? by Jim Hildebrand

Why do I not work in an NFL front office? Because I wanted Michael Crabtree when the Jets traded up to number five in this past April’s NFL draft.
Shame on me.
Mark Sanchez looked the part of a seasoned NFL veteran. Not only did he lead his team to a convincing opening day victory, he did so against an up-and-coming Houston Texans squad who were 12-4 in their last 16 home games. The Texans held one of the league’s best offenses last year, including game-breaking wideout Andre Johnson. Johnson was a non-factor all game long, being held without a catch for over 2 quarters and finishing with just four for 35 yards. The offense was shutout (the Texans scored their lone TD on defense) and held to less than forty yards on the ground. Gang green looked legit.
But let’s get back to Sanchez. Coming out of USC, it seemed like the pressure never got to the rookie. He displayed poise and leadership when most rookies would crumble. After he threw a fourth quarter interception that Houston’s defense returned for a score, he was staring adversity in the face. What does he do? Completes a 40 yard pass to Dustin Keller that seconds later would result in a Thomas Jones 38 yard TD run to ice the game. Sanchez definitely showed us he has the three “C’s”: calm, cool and collected.
Before you even say it, yes I know it’s only one game. But looking back to day one of the preseason, this game exceeded my expectations for either Kellen Clemens or Sanchez. The same formula holds true from that first practice this summer in upstate New York; control the ball and don’t turn it over on offense and force mistakes with aggressiveness on defense. Everything wasn’t perfect, but it was certainly good enough to win a road game in the NFL in a hostile environment. It will only get tougher with the Patriots visiting town next Sunday, but it looks like the Jets finally have a bona fide quarterback of the future.
I guess we can put to rest the “rookie-quarterbacks-can’t-win-in-the-NFL” talk…at least for another week.
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