Mark Sanchez, Bill Belichick, NY Jets, Zach Wilson
Mark Sanchez, Bill Belichick, NY Jets, Getty Images, Jet X Graphic

Mark Sanchez talks about facing Bill Belichick after Zach Wilson’s meltdown

Bill Belichick‘s defensive setups are so airtight and so flawless that sometimes only mistakes can break through to the end zone, according to Mark Sanchez.

The former New York Jets quarterback and current Fox Sports football analyst appeared on The Herd with Colin Cowherd shortly after another one of his successors in the green franchise quarterback spot endured a brutal debut against Belichick’s Patriots.

By now, little more needs to be written about Zach Wilson‘s Sunday struggles, namely the four interceptions that yielded 16 points in a 25-6 New England victory. Rookie quarterbacks are now 6-26 against the Patriots since Belichick took over as head coach in 2000.

Sanchez was one of those six freshman throwers that got the better of the Patriots and one of only five to do so in his first time squaring off against New England. The touted first-round pick out of USC completed 14-of-22 passes for 163 yards and a score in 16-9 Jets victory in September 2010. It was the Jets’ first regular season contest at MetLife Stadium, then known as New Meadowlands Stadium.

“Death, taxes, and a Belichick defense vs. a rookie quarterback. Bet the farm on it!” Sanchez said with a smile. “It’s a no-brainer. He has you second-guessing everything, (even) your protections upfront.”

Despite Sanchez’s pedestrian final numbers (part of what Sanchez labeled “one of the most basic gameplans of all time”), he gave the Jets a permanent lead with a nine-yard touchdown pass to Dustin Keller. According to Sanchez, the vital score was made possible only by a mistake.

“I forgot to motion a guy and threw a touchdown to Dustin Keller, so it gave them the weirdest look they’d ever seen,” Sanchez says to Cowherd’s amusement. “Dustin Keller was so open because I forgot to motion Jerricho Cotchery. I got to the sidelines and everybody’s high-fiving, and (offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer) was like ‘Yo, what are you doing, you missed the zip motion?’. I was like “Oh, I knew it looked different in practice!’.”

Belichick had his revenge when the teams met up for a November rematch in New England. The Patriots jumped out to a 24-point lead en route to a 31-14 triumph and forced Sanchez into four interceptions, matching Wilson’s total from Sunday. Sanchez joked that he single-handedly put Patriots cornerback Leigh Bodden in the Pro Bowl, as three of the turnovers landed in his arms.

Sanchez credited Belichick’s “false game plan” and ability to adjust as the reason for his struggles.

“For the first two drives it was like, ‘Oh, we’re getting the same thing as last time, sweet, let’s go get them’,” Sanchez recalled. “Third drive, whoa, couple of boomerang balls going the wrong way. That’s just the way he is and it just makes it so tough on your team.”

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Sanchez would end his New York career with a 3-6 record as a starter against the Patriots, including the upset victory in the 2011 AFC Divisional playoffs. He and Vinny Testaverde are the only Jets starting quarterbacks who have conquered the Patriots three times since Belichick’s resignation as HC of the NYJ.

Wilson and the modern Jets (0-2) will look to recover on the road this weekend, as they battle the Denver Broncos (2-0) on Sunday late afternoon (4:05 p.m. ET, CBS).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

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Geoff Magliocchetti is a veteran football writer with years of credentialed experience with the Jets and Giants. Email: geoffmags90@gmail.com

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