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Jets will struggle to be elite unless Sanchez improves accuracy

My father is 83 years old, still cuts hair every day and loves the New York Yankees. But he really loves the 40's version of the Yankees, the team led by Joe DiMaggio. Nothing the current team could accomplish would ever be good enough to replace the old Yankees in my father's eyes.

Whenever the Yankees get shut out, I know I am going to hear this from my father, "Great teams never get shut out. The old Yankees never did." Now, understand there was no research done to support my father's statement, just something he believes and you cannot change his mind. But his point has merit when it comes to the Packers blanking the Jets.

The Jets are a good team in spite being shut out coming off their bye week, but the display does continue to raise doubts about Mark Sanchez and his accuracy. Two weeks ago in Denver, Sanchez looked bad, especially early in the game, where he could actually have thrown five interceptions, instead of just two. His accuracy is awful at times, in fact, he is completing just 53 percent of his passes. What is even more alarming, he has only completed at least 59 percent of his passes in a game four times (two against the Patriots) in his career. This lack of precision has to worry the front office, the coaches and the fan base.

Joe Robbins / NFL
Mark Sanchez has struggled badly in the Jets' two losses, while performing well in New York's wins.
Sanchez's numbers in wins
Comp. pct. Avg. TDs/INTs Rating
56.4 6.6 9/2 90.4
Sanchez's numbers in losses
44.1 5.6 0/2 48

Falling at home coming off the bye week to the injury riddled Packers was tough to watch, particularly for Jets fans. The Packers fought hard and were opportunistic. Even though they did not have most of their skill players (receiver Donald Driver left early in the game), they never stopped fighting.

Green Bay attempted to run the ball despite not having much success, but the Packers understood trying to throw all the time was not the answer against the Jets.

The Packers were not going to score a ton of points against the Jets, in part because of all the injuries, therefore the burden of victory fell on the mistakes of Sanchez and the Jets' offense. The Packers were without defensive lineman Ryan Pickett, but found a way to handle the opposing running game (neither LaDainian Tomlinson nor Shonn Greene averaged 4 yards a carry) and force Sanchez to beat them.

Not all the blame goes to Sanchez as the Jets had some key drops. With Packers punter Tim Masthay landing five kicks inside the 20, the Jets also had to work with a long field all game. Scoring when an offense is backed up requires a few big plays, and Sunday, Tomlinson's five receptions led the Jets, which means Sanchez was not always looking down the field. To change field position also requires consistency on third down, but the Jets were just 7 for 17.

In Sanchez's 22 career starts, he has failed to average 7 yards per pass attempt 12 times, clearly an indication he is not looking down the field or making accurate throws on the third level. One of the best examples of his accuracy issues came on a 32-yard pass to Braylon Edwards. Edwards was wide open, but Sanchez threw the ball low, forcing the receiver to make a tough grab and eliminating the potential for yards after the catch. For the Jets to reach Super Bowl levels, Sanchez must improve in this area because weather and wind are becoming factors as November is here, which makes accuracy essential.


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Sunday's best

» Jaguars quarterback David Garrard showed no fear of getting hit coming off the concussion and torched the Cowboys. When Garrard is standing tall in the pocket without worrying about being hit, he can be sensational. When he gets in a zone, he is one of those players who can make a team feel it has its answer at quarterback. Four touchdown passes is impressive, even against the non-competitive Cowboys.

» QB Troy Smith, in his first start for the 49ers, made the most of his nineteen throws. More importantly, he protected the ball and led the 49ers to their second win over the Broncos in London. Smith took some time to get warmed up, but he was effective when it mattered most, leading his team from behind. Troy Smith, not Alex Smith will be the new quarterback of the 49ers.

» The Raiders have been dominating the last two weeks, especially on offense, gaining over 500 yards two weeks in a row. Oakland is 4-4 for its best midseason record since 2002, the season the Raiders went to the Super Bowl. The Raiders are primed to compete for the AFC West title as they now go back to Bruce Gradkowski as their starter.

» How good is Antonio Gates? Even though he is not 100 percent, he is still dominating and creates huge matchup problems for any defense. Gates was sensational Sunday and clutch as he made the key plays to help the Chargers get back on track.

Sunday funnies

» The Cowboys' issues go beyond losing Tony Romo. Dallas has allowed 76 points the last two games, clearly an indictment of coach Wade Phillips, who is essentially the defensive coordinator. I have a feeling that the conversation in the owner's booth, between Jerry Jones and his sons, was let's get a list together for our next coach.

Trouble brewing in Washington
Mike Shanahan's decision to bench Donovan McNabb was a head-scratcher, says Pat Kirwan, and the long-range damage from the move will be something to follow. More ...

» I am not sure I can understand how Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb could not run the two-minute drill against the Lions when he was able to do it for the tying field goal against the Packers a few weeks earlier? This thinking by coach Mike Shanahan does not add up. If I were McNabb, I would not be holding my breath waiting for a contract extension.

» The Bengals got 86 yards on their first drive of the game and then only managed 176 the rest of the way. The offense only seems to look good when the Bengals are behind in the game and the opponent only cares about the clock, not yards allowed. At 2-5, Cincinnati's problems go beyond the offense. As we enter the second half of the season, the key question that will be asked, is Marvin Lewis coming back?

» I do not have enough time to get into what ails the Vikings, but coach Brad Childress challenging the catch by Brandon Tate might have to be sent to the bad challenge Hall of Fame. Each week Childress amazes me with his game management but this one was historic. The Vikings have the look of a team that is not in love with their coach -- more on this on Wednesday.

On the lookout

Randy Moss' press conference after the loss to New England proved to be his last stand with Minnesota. It was honest, enlightening and there was much to read between the lines. But without speaking for Moss, my sense is that he realizes that the grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence. We'll see what the future holds.

Off the beaten track

I know the Buccaneers won another game, but I was really impressed with running back LeGarrette Blount and quarterback Josh Freeman. I still do not think Tampa Bay is good enough to be a contender for the playoffs, but it's an improving team.

Three-step drops

» The Bills are getting close and might find their first win this week against the Bears. If they keep playing hard, they will break into the win column soon. …

» The Broncos have been devastated with injuries, but during their bye week, they will need to figure out what kind of team they want to become in Year 2 of the Josh McDaniels era. Denver has to find ways to score more points, not tally more yards. …

» Matthew Stafford is good, really good. The Lions are an explosive team with him under center. More impressive than Stafford's play, Detroit's defense holding down Washington, especially on third down (2 of 14). The Lions are going to keep getting better as long as they stay healthy. …

» Cardinals QB Max Hall is not ready to start in the league, and he might not ever be ready. His arm and lack of size (six-foot-1, 205 pounds) will always hold him back, particularly the more he gets hit. He reminds me of fellow Brigham Young alum Ty Detmer. The more games Hall has to play, the less effective he becomes. …

» I landed in Los Angeles late Sunday night and a police officer was really nice to me, but said to be nice to his Rams, so here goes. Rookie quarterback Sam Bradford continues to prove that having a QB is essential to any team's improvement. He continues to get better. St. Louis might be good enough to take the NFC West since winning on the road is difficult for of the teams in the division. …

» I love Miami's toughness to be able to win on the road. While the Dolphins are far from perfect, they are 4-0 away from home. …

» The Buccaneers' Aqib Talib is easily one of the best corners in the NFL, and after Sunday, everyone knows how talented he actually is. …

» Patriots running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis is really good, in part, because he is hard to tackle. However, Danny Woodhead has been the biggest reason the Patriots are on a five-game winning streak. Woodhead is tough and makes all the key plays the offense needs, like his 16-yard gain in the fourth quarter to move the chains during the Patriots' final touchdown drive. …

» Wonder now if Childress thinks it was a good idea to stir the pot in New England? Like Bill Belichick needs more motivation to inspire his team. Getting Tom Brady mad is not a good idea. …

Follow Michael Lombardi on Twitter @michaelombardi.

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