- Last Updated: 4:37 AM, December 1, 2012
- Posted: 1:12 AM, December 1, 2012
Jets quarterback coach Matt Cavanaugh insisted yesterday pupil Mark Sanchez is improving and said he believes Sanchez’s turnovers are primarily highlighted because of the Jets’ pitiful record.
Talking to reporters for the first time since early in the season, Cavanaugh gave mainly a State of Sanchez discussion. He defended the fourth-year quarterback, who currently is ranked 30th in NFL quarterback rating, 33rd in completion percentage and does not appear to be improving.
“I just know he’s talented. I know he’s very talented. I know he’s getting smarter. I know he’s making better decisions overall,” Cavanaugh said as the Jets prepare to play host to the Cardinals tomorrow. “But if he’d made these mistakes, these same interceptions, I think he’s got 10 of them, if he’d have thrown 10 interceptions and we were 7-4, I don’t know that we’d be talking about him like we are. It’s magnified a little bit because we’re 4-7 and he’s the quarterback.”
It makes sense for Cavanaugh to defend Sanchez because Sanchez’s struggles reflect on the coach, too. Cavanaugh, also in his fourth season, has been Sanchez’s position coach for his entire Jets tenure.
Cavanaugh did criticize Sanchez’s play — for example, he admitted Sanchez is “inconsistent” and called an interception he had against Seattle a “a bonehead play.” Still, Cavanaugh, said he’s “generally pleased” with Sanchez’s progress.
“I think he’s still developing,” the coach said. “It’s hard to ask for patience when you’re 4-7, but I think with a young quarterback who’s got talent, you’ve got to be patient.”
But does Sanchez really still qualify as a young quarterback?
He is just 26 years old, but, including the playoffs, he will start his 65th NFL game tomorrow. How many starts are needed until he’s a consistently strong player?
Sanchez has an NFL-worst four red-zone interceptions this season. Last season, he had 24 turnovers, 18 interceptions and six fumbles, This season, he has 10 interceptions and three fumbles. In his second season, he had just 17 turnovers.
“If I thought [the struggling] was a problem of epidemic proportions, it’d be a huge issue. But I think it’s been spotty,” Cavanaugh said. “You’ve made a couple of plays in the red zone that are just bad decisions because you’re not focused on what’s the down and distance, what’s the situation in the game, how could this hurt us, how could it help us.
Cavanaugh said some of the mistakes Sanchez is making happen to more experienced quarterbacks, too.
“I don’t know why. Because I still see it happen to the veterans around the league. There’s guys that are making throws that you’re saying, ‘Why would you even attempt that?’ It’s the nature of the position.”
“I honestly believe he’s starting to understand the game better. But there’s lapses that show up and when you’re 4-7, they become huge deals. If we were 7-4, I don’t know that we’d be sitting here questioning the [four] turnovers so much in the red zone. Or it’d be easier for me to say, ‘Eh, it was a bad play. We moved on.’
“Well, we still move on. We can’t dwell on it. We work every day on trying to understand down and distance, field position, score of the game, making good decisions. ... He’s got to make [mistakes]. He’s got to suffer through them. He’s got to learn from them and then we’ve got to start to eliminate them. And I’m seeing progress in some areas.”Follow @NYPostsports