Mark Sanchez likes 'fast-break situation'

Updated: November 12, 2010, 3:16 PM ET
By Rich Cimini | ESPNNewYork.com

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The New York Jets are built to rush the football, but they've been more successful lately when employing a different kind of rush. The hurry-up.

Five of their past six scoring drives, over three games, have occurred in the final two minutes of a half or when the offense is in its two-minute mode. They showcased that ability out of necessity last week in Detroit, scoring 10 points in the final 2:46 of regulation and -- to the surprise of many -- staying with their hurry-up offense to start overtime. It worked, as they needed only 2:18 to win the game.

When time flies, so do the Jets.

"I'm not going to let any secrets out, but we definitely feel like those are some of our best situations," running back LaDainian Tomlinson said Thursday. "We're able to speed up our tempo. This offense really thrives on that. It could be something we try to do."

The idea certainly deserves some thought, considering the Jets' current offensive funk. They've scored only six touchdowns over the past four games, serious underachievement for a unit that includes eight former first-round draft picks.

They've been grounding and pounding, going nowhere, until the clock becomes a factor. Once there's a sense of urgency, the offense perks up and the talent seems to take over.

Quarterback Mark Sanchez called it "the ultimate fast-break situation." If it were up to him, they'd use it more often. It was Sanchez who lobbied the coaches on Sunday to start overtime in the two-minute.

"Mark likes to go fast," offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said. "He likes to have a tempo to him. It puts him at ease. He gets people moving and he's comfortable and confident, knowing, 'Hey, I'm dictating the tempo of the game and they're going to have to adjust to me.'"

Maybe they're on to something. Consider the recent success.

Go back three games. After a huge pass-interference penalty by the Denver Broncos, Tomlinson scored the game-winning touchdown with 1:13 left in the fourth quarter.

Go back to Detroit. Braylon Edwards scored on a 74-yard reception with 1:00 left in the first half. Down by 10 late in the game, Sanchez was masterful in the two-minute, leading scoring drives of 1:40 and 1:40. Counting the opening drive of overtime, he completed 10 of 13 passes for 144 yards on his last three possessions.

"In the two-minute, it's bam, bam, bam, bam -- there's no time to think," Edwards said. "There's no time to drop back and think and assess."

There are a couple of ways to read that remark, but Edwards is right. Things are simplified in the two-minute. Sanchez has only one read on each play. If it's not open, he throws a check-down to Tomlinson. In the base offense, he has two or three reads before dumping it off to Tomlinson.

Also, there are fewer moving parts in the two-minute: The Jets usually stick with the same personnel package -- one back, one tight end and three receivers. It means their best playmakers are on the field at the same time.

About a month ago, Santonio Holmes made a suggestion to coach Rex Ryan, asking if they could practice the two-minute drill against the starting defense. Usually, the starting units don't face each other in practice, but Holmes told Ryan that's how he did it for years in Pittsburgh.

It's working. All of which begs the question: Why not use the two-minute as a change-of-pace within the game? It's "always in our hip pocket," according to Schottenheimer, who said he's waiting for the right time to spring it.

It's always a philosophical tug-of-war for the Jets because, as intriguing as it is, they have a defensive-minded head coach who believes in ball control. Ryan wants long possessions that play to his defense. He wants ground-and-pound. Reminded that they have more pass attempts than rushes, he said, "That's not good."

So you're not going to see a lot of the hurry-up offense, but it wouldn't be a surprise if they try it against the Browns.

"We'll see," Sanchez said. "That would be a great changeup for us, so who knows?"

Rich Cimini covers the Jets for ESPNNewYork.com. Follow him on Twitter.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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