Commentary

Sanchez ahead of rookie curve

Originally Published: October 9, 2009
By Ron Jaworski | ESPN.com

"Monday Night Football" analyst Ron Jaworski takes a look at the emergence of rookie Mark Sanchez.

After watching film from Sanchez's first four games, I came away impressed with his overall game and feel he has a rosy future in the NFL.

Sanchez's mechanics are very sound. He maintains his balance, drops back smoothly and sets up well, establishing a firm base for his throws. I also like his sense of awareness and urgency. The Saints did strip him of the ball in the end zone in Week 4 for a touchdown, but that happens. He'll learn you can't ever wait around for things to develop. Now and then -- on plays like that -- you'll see he's still a young QB. But overall, I like his eagerness to get the ball out.

Sanchez is a timing and rhythm quarterback. His mistakes will come under pressure. Last week, the Saints did a great job of masking their coverages and blitzes and Sanchez labored to read them consistently.

Sanchez also makes pretty strong pre-snap reads for a young player. His first three completions against the Saints were on "smoke" reads between him and the wide receivers. The corners were playing off and, despite having called a run play, Sanchez made the correct read and hit his receivers on quick slant routes.

There is no glaring deficiency in Sanchez's game, but he does struggle right now with play-action. On those plays, the QB has to turn his back to the defense and then come around and make the proper read. On one play last week, Sanchez read the safety wrong and Darren Sharper picked off a pass and took it in for a score. This is another aspect of QB play that simply takes time to work on before you get it nailed down.

It takes time to mold a top-flight NFL quarterback. And in Sanchez, the Jets are starting out with a nice piece of clay.

Ron Jaworski

NFL analyst / writer
Ron Jaworski is one of the most popular and knowledgeable analysts covering the NFL today. Since joining ESPN in 1990, the former standout NFL quarterback has covered the league from virtually every angle -- sideline reporter, game-site reporter, host and both studio and game analyst. From 2007-11, Jaworski occupied one of the most coveted positions in sports as a Monday Night Football analyst.