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Pro Football Weekly's Eric Edholm brings you hot news and the inside scoop about the NFL.

Jets' pressing training-camp issue: Sanchez's growth

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Posted July 01, 2010 @ noon
Updated Oct. 06, 2010 @ 7:27 p.m.
By Eric Edholm

The defense appears to be very strong, perhaps elite. The team filled several holes in the offseason and beefed up an already impressive roster. There are weapons at receiver, running back and tight end. The offensive line could be good again.

So what might prevent the Jets from reaching their now Super Bowl-caliber expectations?

I have argued this offseason that team chemistry, even with Rex Ryan orchestrating this mad circus, will be a serious issue.

But as far as tangible concerns go, the biggest thing might be the development of QB Mark Sanchez.

In the regular season, we saw a hot-and-cold Sanchez, a player who was great in some games (his first two starts and in most of the playoffs) and very bad in others (Week Four at New Orleans, Week Six vs. Buffalo, Week 11 at New England, Week 15 vs. Atlanta). He appeared to mature quickly in the postseason, and now almost everyone is predicting a huge leap in his second season.

You can't overlook the horrific TD-INT ratio of 12-20, the low completion percentage (53.8) and the weekly ebb and flow. To be a better quarterback, he must take better care of the football and get the ball in the hands of his best playmakers.

But does Sanchez need to be great for the Jets to have a great season?

Some believe he just needs to be good and avoid killer mistakes, much as he did at USC. There, he had great talent around him and mostly did a very good job of letting those players take the pressure off of him.

With the Jets, that would mean relying more on TE Dustin Keller, a trusted target in the playoffs, and WR Jerricho Cotchery, the team's most realiable target the past few seasons. But with the additions of WRs Braylon Edwards (who was good but certainly not great after the trade from Cleveland last season) and Santonio Holmes (once he serves a four-game suspension), the temptation will be there to take advantage of them as deep targets.

The Jets' offense doesn't have a clear identity right now. Is it the Sanchez show once he has his full cast of receivers? Or will Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson be the main men? A healthy balance of the two would be nirvana, of course.

Don't be surprised, though, if it takes Sanchez a little time to get completely comfortable, especially coming off a knee injury that held back his offseason preparation a tad.

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