Jets' Mark Sanchez is 'going to be a great quarterback,' coach Matt Cavanaugh says
Published: Sunday, January 01, 2012, 4:30 AM Updated: Sunday, January 01, 2012, 4:48 AM
By Jenny Vrentas/The Star-Ledger
John O'Boyle/The Star-LedgerJets quarterback Mark Sanchez has faced criticism for his performance lately. Matt Cavanaugh called the scrutiny "crazy." The Jets quarterbacks coach is confident in starter Mark Sanchez, and pleased with his development, and can't understand why he is so harshly criticized by the public.
"He's a talented young quarterback, he's 25 years old, he's been starting since the day he got in the league," Cavanaugh said Friday. "In three years, he's been in the playoffs the first two years, and he's on the cusp of getting in a third time. He's gotten better statistically. It's hard to argue. I think somebody has to do a little studying of other quarterbacks, where they were three years in, and their win-loss records. I have a hard time understanding the criticisms."
Cavanaugh knows Sanchez's development as well as anyone in the Jets organization. A former quarterback who played 14 NFL seasons and has also served as an offensive coordinator at the college and pro level, Cavanaugh has said it takes about three years to evaluate a professional quarterback.
Sanchez will complete his third NFL regular season today at Miami, and Cavanaugh's review is very positive despite the Jets' up-and-down 8-7 season and the offense's inconsistency.
"I'm convinced he's going to be a great quarterback," Cavanaugh said. "Is there room for improvement? Absolutely. Is he making strides and going in the right direction each year? I absolutely believe he is."
Cavanaugh pointed first to the stat coach Rex Ryan prefers, Sanchez's win-loss record. He is 31-21 as a starter, including four road playoff wins that tied an NFL record. Cavanaugh also noted improvement each year, though slight, in completion percentage (56.2), passer rating (79.0) and touchdown-interception ration (24-15).
More subtly, Cavanaugh said Sanchez has made great strides in his pocket presence, fundamentals and mechanics, despite not having this past offseason to work together due to the NFL lockout.
"Even in limited camp work, he was very conscientious, working hard to make corrections," Cavanaugh said. "Sure there are times when he falls back and has a lapse, is sloppy in the pocket or gets the football stripped, tries to force once in a while. But he's made improvements, and I'm excited to see him continue to grow like he is growing."
After the season ends, whether this week or after a playoffs appearance, Cavanaugh said he, Ryan, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and general manager Mike Tannenbaum will get on the same page on the areas of improvement they want to target in the offseason with Sanchez.
With the Jets' playoff hopes hanging in the balance today, Sanchez addressed his offensive teammates in the team meeting Wednesday and asked them to "trust me as your quarterback." Cavanaugh said his pupil wanted to let his teammates know he would do what needed to be done to play his best today, and called his message "outstanding."
A report last weekend from the web site Pro Football Talk suggested that the Jets are starting to realize Sanchez is not the answer and may quietly explore other options. Ryan already shot the report down. Cavanaugh did, too, strongly affirming that he believes Sanchez is capable of being the franchise quarterback for the Jets.
"Why wouldn't he?" Cavanaugh said. "What is out there about him that you wouldn't support him and think he's the guy? What is out there?"
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