In the second edition of the Rookie Recap, I will breakdown the performances of Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez and Texans linebacker Brian Cushing.
Brian Cushing was deemed healthy enough to start against his former college roommate after struggling with a knee injury in the preseason. Cushing got the nod at strongside linebacker and played mostly on running downs. Cushing did not make any disruptive plays for the Texans, but tied DeMeco Ryans for the team lead in tackles with 8 combined. What impressed me the most with Cushing was his speed, once he’s back 100% healthy and playing fulltime he’ll become a viable starting option for IDP fantasy leagues.
Mark Sanchez won his debut against the Texans and showed the poise of an NFL veteran in the pocket. His play on third down kept the Texans off the field allowed the Jets defense to really go after Matt Schaub and company. He did under throw a pass to Dustin Keller that was picked off that led to the Texans scoring on a fumble recovery on the same play. He also nearly threw an interception to Mario Williams as he misjudged how much ground the Pro Bowler could cover.
Sanchez did throw for the first touchdown of his career to Chansi Stuckey on a busted coverage play from rookie Brice McCain. The Jets trusted their rookie signal caller enough to sprint out on a 3rd and 2 and hit Cotchery for a 25 yard catch and run in the 3rd quarter that helped set up the 1 yard touchdown run for Thomas Jones. He later iced the game in the 4th quarter with a 40 yard strike to Dustin Keller on a beautifully thrown ball that took any of the momentum the Texans may have gained from their defensive touchdown.
Sanchez reminded me of how Brady or Manning create more time in the pocket by having the vision and footwork to sidestep the pass rush and keep their eyes downfield. Sanchez appeared faster than advertised and the Jets will continue to have him sprint out on bootleg passes like Aaron Rodgers does for the Packers. Sanchez has the moxie and charisma to elevate the play of his teammates and winning on the road in his first start will go a long way in showing them that he can be their franchise QB.
Sanchez now becomes a viable fantasy option as your 2nd quarterback with the weapons he has in New York. This may be your last chance to grab him off the waiver wire if he is still available. We are looking at the 2009 version of Matt Ryan.