Santonio injury could jump-start Jets, Sanchez like losing Shockey did for Giants, Eli
By BRIAN COSTELLO
Over the offseason, Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez studied the career arc of Eli Manning, his counterpart across town with the Giants, and made note that Manning’s fourth season was the one when everything clicked. So far, the same can’t be said of Sanchez, who is ranked dead last in the NFL in completion percentage (49.7) and 30th in quarterback rating, above only Browns rookie Brandon Weeden and Chiefs disaster Matt Cassel.
But if Sanchez truly looked closely at Manning’s magical 2007 season, he would see things did not turn for Manning until the end of the year, when he played well in the team’s final regular season game then turned it up another notch in the playoffs.
Manning played those games without mouthy tight end Jeremy Shockey, who broke his leg in Week 14. Players who were around the Giants said Manning flourished without Shockey around.
Now, the same thing must happen for Sanchez without his problem child target — Santonio Holmes.
Holmes is finished for the season after having left foot surgery last week, and many people see it as a crushing blow for the Jets offense. But it actually could be a positive for Sanchez.
The chemistry issues between Sanchez and Holmes are well established. They barely spoke last season, and Holmes showed up Sanchez in front of teammates before the final game of the season.
The relationship appeared to be better through the first four games of this season, before Holmes injured his foot against the 49ers. But it was clear Sanchez was forcing the ball to Holmes at times, most likely to keep him happy. With Holmes in the trainer’s room, Sanchez and offensive coordinator Tony Sparano no longer have his oversized ego to consider when drawing up a game plan. Sanchez can spread the ball around. The Jets can run Shonn Greene more than 20 times a game, like they did Sunday. Sanchez targeted Holmes more than 30 percent of the time in each of the Jets’ first four games. Holmes was thrown at 39 times, which is the 30th most in the NFL, according to profootballfocus.com. That is with him missing the last two games. No one else in the top 30 has as few as his 190 snaps. With Holmes out, the distribution of passes has been much more even. Tim Hasselbeck, now an ESPN analyst, was Manning’s backup with the Giants in 2005 and
2006. He is one of those who believe Shockey’s absence helped Manning flourish.
Asked yesterday if he could see the same thing happening for Sanchez, Hasselbeck hesitated because of the talent around Sanchez. Unlike Manning, who had Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer to throw to after Shockey’s injury, Sanchez has very little talent around him in the huddle.
Just trying to stay positive here folks. Hey you never know...