Mark Sanchez says Jets need to keep Zach Wilson’s development in mind as defense, running attack win games
Mark Sanchez knows a thing or two about the pressures that come with being the starting quarterback of the New York Jets.
He also knows what it’s like to be early in a career where a strong defense and running game are the winning formula.
It’s what current Jets quarterback Zach Wilson is experiencing, and Sanchez can relate.
“I think it’s tougher when you’re in it, living it,” Sanchez told the New York Post, “because every quarterback wants to throw either the game-winning touchdown or go throw five touchdowns and for 300 yards and go put on a passing clinic. That’s what you want to do. Turning around, handing the ball off 30 times a game isn’t as attractive.
“However, you also want to win, and that desire to win is more important than your personal stats.”
Wilson has been more of a game manager as the Jets had jumped out to a 4-2 start, winning their past three games. In the last two wins, Wilson has attempted just 39 passes for 320 yards combined.
Against the Green Bay Packers in Week 6, Wilson was pedestrian, completing 10-18 passes for 110 yards with zero turnovers.
It was the running game (33 carries for 179 yards), defense (278 yards allowed with a forced fumble) and special teams (blocked field goal and blocked punt returned for a touchdown) that won the game for New York.
But Sanchez, who went to back-to-back AFC Championships while not being asked to carry the majority of the offensive load, thinks the Jets need to make sure that they keep Wilson’s development in mind.
“If that’s the formula for your team, and it was for us in 2009 when at times the team had to win in spite of me, well then that is the formula,” Sanchez told The Post. “You almost have to protect the young guys from themselves at times.
“At the same time, you want them to grow. There is a very fine line that you have to walk and kind of tightrope of, OK, this is our formula for winning, but we also want to develop our quarterback and really make sure he is a situational master so when it’s time to cut it loose and chuck the ball around, it’s not so foreign to him, because all we do is run the ball.”
Following trips to the AFC Championship Game in his rookie and sophomore seasons, Sanchez was never able to become the passer that the Jets hoped he would develop into. He was released by the Jets after the 2014 season before spending time with the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys, and in Washington.
Sanchez says the Jets need to make sure that they allow Wilson to make plays while making sure he’s careful with the football.
“They’ve got to continue to remind him [to be careful with the football] without getting him to shut down,” Sanchez told The Post. “You don’t want to completely take away the kid’s stinger. Because at some point you’re going to be in a 37-35 barn burner, and you don’t want him to be so cold and scared to shoot his gun. That’s a fine, fine line of how much you pull back. As long as you’re continuing to teach, I just think that ongoing dialogue is paramount.”
The Jets are off to their best start since the 2015 season as they look to break the longest playoff drought in the NFL.
New York faces the Denver Broncos on Sunday.