Thirty-three years. It had been that long since a New York Jets rookie quarterback won his first NFL game. Gerald Ford was in office. The Big Red Machine was dominating MLB, and the Ramones played their first show as a band at CBGB in Manhattan. There’s been quite a bit of time since a rookie quarterback stepped under center and led his team to victory in his first game as a professional. Mark Sanchez not only did that, but he did it in quite a convincing, dominating fashion.
Connecting on 18 of his 31 passes for 272 yards, with one touchdown and one interception (which led to the only points the Texans would score on Sunday), Sanchez certainly delivered in ways that no Jet fan expected him to. While it certainly didn’t look as impressive as Drew Brees’ performance on Sunday, his play calling seemed to be on point every time the ball was snapped. He showed to the fans watching all over the Tri-State area that he is most certainly a leader, and one that is looking to stay here for the long haul.
Sanchez definitely took Namath’s words to heart. At first, it looked like the Namath speech might have jarred Sanchez, since his first drive was an easy three-and-out. I’ll be honest, I was already nervous. I have a family full of Giants fans. Pretty much all my friends either root for the Giants, or root for me not being happy. Playing it out in my head after the first punt, I was sure that at the conclusion of the game, my phone would be turned off for a few days to let the sting subside. That was all thrown out the window when Sanchez led an 8 minute drive to put the Jets in scoring range. While this didn’t end in a touchdown, the Jets drew first blood. That was all they needed to continue dominating on both sides of the ball.
I can’t give all the credit to Sanchez. His offensive line is the one of the highest paid in the league, and in my opinion, rightfully so. They gave him time, they created holes for Thomas Jones and Leon Washington, and they just helped in every way to march the ball down the field and get points on the board. It was their protection that helped the Jets gain 190 rushing yards, and two rushing touchdowns. They didn’t allow Sanchez to get sacked once. What more can you ask for? Well, the other side of the ball, perhaps. The defense of the Jets was a big subject coming into the season, and they showed that even being down two men (Calvin Pace and Shaun Ellis), they can create pressure on the opposing quarterback, and stuff the run. Two sacks, an interception, and holding the Houston Texans to a mere 38 rushing yards (204 total offensive yards), the Rex Ryan defensive system has carried itself up I-95 to New York, and the Jets can just as easily follow his methods to success.
Overall, it was a dominating performance for the New York Jets. While it’s only one start for Mark Sanchez, it is most certainly a glimmer of hope for Jet fans who haven’t seen a championship team since Joe Namath led them in Superbowl III. Mark’s first real test under center will come next week when the Jets take on their rival New England Patriots. Rex Ryan may have given the Pats some notable quotes to put on their bulletin board over the off season, but something tells me Rex believes that he can back it up.
Erik Espenberg is a native New Yorker who is an avid fan of the Yankees, Rangers, and Jets. When not writing for Camel Clutch, he can be found killing his brain cells playing assorted video games. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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