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Jets can no longer hide Mark Sanchez

Mark Sanchez

New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez reacts in the third quarter against the Denver Broncos during an NFL football game Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)


The headlines from Thursday night’s game will be about Tim Tebow. They also should be about the lack of progress by the Jets offense in year three of the Mark Sanchez era.

The Jets defense is the same as it ever was, a Super Bowl caliber group. It played a sensational game on Thursday night, and any moderately competent offense and quarterback would have easily put the Broncos away before Tebowmania took hold.

Consider: The Broncos started five possessions in Jets territory. They got three points out of those five chances.

In the 10 drives leading into Denver’s game-winning march, the Broncos had two first downs. Denver went three and out eight times in that span, including four straight times. It was as dominant a defensive performance as you’ll see.

At this point, all the Jets ask Mark Sanchez to do is not make the big mistake. He still made it, delivering seven points to the Broncos on a game-changing third quarter pick six.

Throws like that make the Jets run on third down and punt the ball away instead of playing to win. Throws like that make Rex Ryan play it conservative even when the Jets face a terrible secondary like the Patriots. The Jets don’t trust their quarterback.

Sanchez is leading the same streaky offense with non-stop slants that puttered around .500 into December in 2009.

You can only hide your quarterback for so long, and Sanchez’s stagnation is plain for everyone to see.