Mark Sanchez rolls out of the pocket, pass rushers blocked, eyes downfield toward Santonio Holmes or Braylon Edwards galloping down the sideline against a Miami defender this Sunday. The quarterback arcs a spiral into the air.
Are you picturing it?
Maybe the ball finds the back shoulder of the streaking receiver for a game-breaking Jets touchdown. Maybe the pass, underthrown and intercepted, kills the Jets’ chances.
Like it or not, that is the 2010 Jets: stacked with seasoned, title-hungry talent, but at the mercy of the 24-year-old sapling at their helm.
Monday’s 45-3 evisceration at New England, Sanchez’s 30th NFL start, featured his first three-interception game of the season (he had four such games during his rookie year). Not coincidentally, his Jets did not look like a team coming off a fervid four-game win streak that seemed to prove Sanchez’s ability to engineer stunning late-game drives that were mistake-free and improvisationally brilliant.
“You’re still talking about a young player,” offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said Thursday, with his young charge set to face a Dolphins team that has never intercepted Sanchez in three games. “We realize that’s who we have and we expect him to bounce back this week, along with the rest of the guys.”
The rest of the Jets, their mistakes matter. A coach makes a foolish challenge, a kicker botches a field goal, a cornerback loses his assigned receiver.
But Sanchez, alternately adept and errant, stands out as the emblem of this ambitious team.
Max J. Dickstein (mdickstein [at] am-ny.com) is amNewYork’s sports editor.