When last we left Mark Sanchez, he was splayed on the turf, a broken man for a broken team in a pointless game. Playing out the string of his star-crossed and doomed Jets career, Sanchez got hurt playing with the second stringers in the 2013 preseason. It was a microcosm of not only his own futility, but the blurriness of the Jets’ “vision” for his use.
Sanchez went from competing with Geno Smith for his former starting job to out for the season, and out of New York. Released in a fait accompli in March, Sanchez held his fragile career in his hands. Sign with the wrong team — the Rams were interested — and he could end up the proverbial dead doornail. Make the right choice, and maybe — just maybe — he could get a chance at redemption that he hadn’t even necessarily earned.
We won’t know the result of Sanchez’s decision to take his talents to South Pennsylvania for some time, but the process was picture perfect. It wasn’t so much that Sanchez chose to back up an unproven quarterback in Nick Foles, or sign a one-year, $2.25 million deal that gave him another bite at the free-agent apple in 2015 — though those decisions were indeed shrewd. It was his good sense to saddle up with Chip Kelly, a coach who — and I know this sounds crazy — puts his players in position to succeed that won the day.
Sanchez struggled mightily to look good on his own in New York, but he rarely, if ever, received help from his coaching staff or front office, getting stuck with sub-par supporting casts and often nonsensical game plans. In Philadelphia, Sanchez is hopping into a gassed up Lambo, with the only request being that he doesn’t take his foot off the accelerator. When Sanchez isn’t being asked to complete high-percentage throws, he’ll be tasked with taking well-timed deep shots designed to make him look good.
The early returns were quite promising, as Sanchez completed 15-of-22 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns in Foles’ place against the Texans. Kelly thought his offense “didn’t miss a beat.” Yes, there were also two picks, but what? You were expecting perfection? That’s just a new uniform, not a new football IQ. No coach or scheme could make Sanchez an entirely new quarterback. But if the lead-footed, average-armed Foles can have success piloting Kelly’s breakneck, ideally-QBed-by-a-dual-threat offense, you better believe Sanchez can. And if Foles can be a QB1 … well, you get the idea. Sanchez’s audition will be long, at least a month. If he aces it, he could both keep the starting job upon Foles’ return, and earn himself much more than $2.25 million the next time he hits the open market.
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Five Things That Went According To Plan In Week 9
Ben Roethlisberger staying hot at home. It stood to reason that Big Ben would better his dismal Week 2 performance against the Ravens in the rematch, but a second straight six-touchdown game? Not even Kenny Darter could have foretold such glory. Roethlisberger is now up to 22 scores, 54.5 percent of which he’s thrown in the past eight days. He’s the first quarterback in NFL history to notch six scores in back-to-back games. Four of those touchdowns have been caught by Martavis Bryant, a 6-foot-4 rookie who adds an entirely different dimension to the Steelers’ formerly pint-sized receiver corps, and commands attention that would otherwise be going to Antonio Brown. Bryant is just one of many reasons Roethlisberger is rolling, and likely to stay scorching against the Jets’ league-worst secondary in Week 10.
Jeremy Hill’s star turn in the absence of Giovani Bernard (hip). Hill stung a Jaguars run defense that had been stiffening in recent weeks for 24/154/2, putting an exclamation point on things with a 60-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. With Bernard looking questionable, at best, for Thursday’s showdown with the Browns, Hill could once again be a plug-and-play RB1 against one of the league’s shakiest defenses. Even if Bernard returns, his nagging injuries and Hill’s 4.7 YPC will have Hill in the conversation for more work.
Arian Foster suffering another soft-tissue injury. There are few things the fantasy community wants less than Foster getting hurt. Unfortunately, his injuries are just so predictable, and almost inevitable with the workloads he’s been receiving. According to ESPN’s Tania Ganguli, there is “some pessimism” for Foster’s status beyond the Texans’ Week 10 bye, meaning he isn’t dealing with just a minor tweak. Hopefully Foster can stay on the field and stay hot. If not, it will be rookie Alfred Blue handling No. 1 duties when Houston returns in Week 11.
Robert Griffin III’s return as Redskins starter. RGIII was neither as good as he was in 2012, nor as bad as he was earlier this season, completing 18-of-28 passes for 251 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Unlike Weeks 1 and 2, he was used on designed runs, rushing seven times for 24 yards, and looking fluid as a rusher. Griffin’s rookie season is looking more and more like lightning that will never again be bottled, but he still has more than enough weapons and talent at his disposal to get in the QB1 conversation. Griffin has an excellent Week 11 matchup in the Bucs’ bottom-barrel defense.
Emmanuel Sanders’ continued adoption of the No. 2 role in Denver. Sanders caught 10-of-16 targets for 151 yards, giving him five 100-yard performances on the season, and putting him on pace for 114/1,570/8. Sanders did so despite playing through a rib injury he suffered early in the game. The playmaker the Broncos were expecting and more, Sanders is making like Eric Decker, and emerging as a legit WR1 as Peyton Manning’s WR2.
Five Things That Didn’t Go According To Plan In Week 9
Colin Kaepernick detonating the Rams for the second time in four weeks. Instead, Kaep had one of his worst games of the season, and committed one of the costliest turnovers by any player in 2014. With the 49ers going for the win on 3rd-and-goal from the Rams’ one-yard line with 0:09 left, Kaep stuck the ball across the plane and … lost it. One play later, the Rams were kneeling it to put an exclamation point on one the year’s most stunning victories. With half the season in the books, Kaep is on pace for a career-best 3,912 yards passing, but just 24 total touchdowns. Kaep has to be more consistent for the 4-4 49ers in the season’s second half.
Russell Wilson getting on track against the Raiders. Wilson had one of the very best starts by any quarterback all season in Week 7 against the Rams. He’s followed it up by generating one touchdown in two games despite facing two of the league’s softest defenses in Carolina and Oakland. Wilson was a miserable 17-of-35 (48.6 percent) on Sunday, and posted an anemic 5.11 YPA. His receivers couldn’t get open, and his coaches couldn’t scheme them into space. After appearing ready to settle in as a high-end QB1, Wilson is shaping up as the same inconsistent back-end bet he was in 2013.
Brandon Weeden’s spot start against the Cardinals. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport began the day by reporting that the Cowboys were “strangely confident” in their shaky No. 2. DallasCowboys.com’s Bryan Broaddus tweeted that Weeden would be allowed to “sling it.” Weeden quickly disabused the notion that he was a different quarterback from his Cleveland days, tossing two picks, entering the fourth quarter with less than 100 yards and completing zero combined passes to Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams before Dallas’ meaningless final drive. All this against a Cardinals pass defense that entered Week 9 as the only unit in the league allowing more than 300 yards per game. The Cowboys will be in big trouble if Tony Romo (back) isn’t ready to face the Jaguars in London.
The Browns’ backfield. Coming off back-to-back sub-par performances, Ben Tate may have lost his starting job with a third. He managed a pathetic three yards on 10 carries against the Bucs, and ended up getting out-touched 16-14 by Terrance West. West out-gained Tate 50-32, and may very well lead Cleveland’s committee in Week 10 against the Bengals. Whether that committee includes Isaiah Crowell — the most talented of the bunch — is an open question after Crowell didn’t so much as play a snap on Sunday.
Michael Floyd’s breakout. Another week, another disappointment for the Rotoworld staff’s favorite human. Floyd drew only five targets, and fumbled his third of four receptions. Thankfully, the Cardinals were able to recover, but Floyd now has just seven catches for 83 yards and a touchdown over his past three starts. Floyd’s talent wasn’t a made-up fever dream, but until something changes in the desert, he can’t be considered more than a boom-or-bust WR3.
1. The Steelers just wanted to make sure Martavis Bryant didn’t use up all his touchdowns in Weeks 1-6, right?
3. How many more big hits can Wes Welker take?
Early Waiver Look (Players owned in less than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues)
Stats of the Week
Martavis Bryant is one of 24 pass catchers with at least five touchdowns. This, despite the fact that he’s been active only three games. Among the players he’s scored more than are Julio Jones, Calvin Johnson, Andre Johnson, Alshon Jeffery, Vincent Jackson, T.Y. Hilton, Emmanuel Sanders, Eric Decker, DeAndre Hopkins, Roddy White, Michael Crabtree … you get the picture.
Playing with three different starting quarterbacks, DeSean Jackson has posted five 100-yard efforts in nine games.
The Patriots have outscored the Bears and Broncos a combined 65-14 in the first half the past two weeks.
The Cowboys have 12 sacks in nine games. DeMarcus Ware has eight sacks in eight games.
The 6-3 Cowboys have only two home games left this season.
Ben Tate has 41 carries over the past three weeks. He's "gained" 65 yards (1.58 YPC). 1:1 TD:Benching ratio.
Tweet of the Week, from the inestimable @PFTCommenter: Facing jj watt on daylight savings times just unfair thats a extra hour of film time=essentially a mini bye week IMO
Jets Moment Of The Week: This. Only this.
The Norval Memorial Award: The Chargers.
When The Historians Look Back On Week 9, They’ll Say: While the attention was focused on the 16th meeting of Human Peyton Manning and Human Tom Brady (their robot dynasties were still 2-3 decades away), it was Rob Gronkowski who was about to make history. It was during the Patriots’ Week 10 “bye” — off weeks were then required because of the slow healing times of human football players — that “Gronk,” as he was colloquially known, would reveal the truth to the world. He was, in fact, the world’s first artificially intelligent robot football player. His past injuries had been a ruse meant to establish authenticity. Gronk would never again catch fewer than 20 passes, or post fewer than 200 yards.