Offense’s slow starts killing Jets

Mark Sanchez.
PATRICK SMITH/GETTY IMAGES

Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez may need to take an extra scoop of Wheaties, because the offense’s slow starts over the past three games is killing the Jets.

The first quarter numbers for Sanchez are puzzling. Through the season’s first five games, his completion percentage, 67.9 percent in the first quarter, is higher than in any other quarter. But the sample size — Sanchez has thrown just 28 first quarter passes — is the lowest of any quarter thus far. The other numbers are far less encouraging.

Just one of Sanchez’s eight touchdowns, but two of his five interceptions, have come in the game’s first 15 minutes. In the last three games, all Jets losses, their opponent has scored first.

“It’s a mindset for us. Those first few third downs we need to convert, sustain drives, scoring drives. That first offensive possession is huge for us and we’d love to come out and do that,” Sanchez said. “It sets a good tone for the team. It sets a tempo for the game and I know we have the guys to do it; we just need to come out fast and start fast.”

It is more than just Sanchez’s fault, however, as his teammates need to step up and begin making plays. Last Sunday at New England, Sanchez was victimized by Dustin Keller and John Conner drops on their opening drive. Sanchez was productive against the Patriots, throwing for 166 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions, but the early drops set the tone for a game where the Jets never had the lead.

It is a source of puzzlement for head coach Rex Ryan.

“We missed some targets early, and then, we had some drops and that never helps you,” Ryan said. “We just need to be sharp, collectively, not just Mark, but all of us and start fast. Make it a point. We’ve looked at everything known to man.”

There seems to be no explanation for why the Jets start slow but no rock is being left unturned by Ryan to get Sanchez rolling a little faster. He points to last year when his then second year quarterback had a shoulder injury and was limited to warming up on the sideline just minutes before the game. Despite the injury, Sanchez still had success during that stretch and was helping the Jets win games. Sanchez wasn’t arriving to the stadium as early while he dealt with the injury so his pregame routine was cut short.

The answer to the Jets slow start might just be in asking Sanchez to hit the snooze button a couple times after his Monday afternoon nap. Perhaps take in a Broadway show. Something, anything, to arrive at MetLife Stadium just a couple hours late.

“We’re still looking for it. Last year, when he really got hot at the end of the year, he actually went to the stadium late and never warmed up, so we’re looking for anything,” Ryan said. “It’s just one of those things, because he’s been absolutely terrific as the game goes on. We just have to find that groove.”

Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.


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