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Boomer Esiason on D&C: Mark Sanchez ‘afraid to pull the trigger’

11.14.11 at 10:11 am ET
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CBS Sports NFL analyst Boomer Esiason made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning to discuss the Patriots’ 37-16 win over the Jets on Sunday. Esiason praised a New England defense that was patched together before and throughout the game Sunday in order to compensate for injuries that decimated the lineup, but he placed much of the blame for the Jets’ loss on quarterback Mark Sanchez, who once again failed to step up during an appearance on prime-time television.

“A lot of it I think has to do with the opposing team’s quarterback who’s afraid to pull the trigger, it looks like to me right now,” Esiason said. “There are times where you just have to take chances. You have to throw the ball and go let your playmakers make a play for you. When you happen to have Plaxico Burress and Santonio Holmes on the field with you, and Dustin Keller for that matter, and you’re afraid to pull the trigger, you want to see guys completely wide open, you’re going to ask for problems.

“I thought that Mark Sanchez last night, even though he threw for over 300 yards, he just is not ready to be that prime-time player that we all thought that he was going to be by this time.”

Esiason said the Jets’ decisions on offense at the end of the first half were especially mystifying considering Tom Brady and the New England offense’s reputation. Sanchez and the Jets had the ball with under five minutes to play in the half and the Patriots holding a 6-2 lead. The Jets marched 63 yards while running the clock down to 1:24, then called a timeout on the New England 2-yard line. Sanchez then rushed the two yards for the touchdown, but he handed the ball over to the Patriots with 1:20 remaining in the half.

Brady and the Patriots offense made good use of the time the Jets allowed them, running a no-huddle offense and driving 80 yards in 1:11 for a touchdown that allowed the Patriots to head into the break with a 13-9 lead.

“To call a timeout at the end of the first half and to leave too much time on the clock for Tom Brady and this offense, the mindset going into a game against Tom Brady, even though their offense hasn’t been clicking the previous two weeks, the danger is always there,” Esiason said. “So the thought process is, is that OK, let’s be effective with our offense in a couple of ways. One, let’s score a touchdown, of course. Two, let’s use the clock to our advantage and try to eat up as much time as we possibly can and not give them the ball back, especially in a situation where he goes no-huddle and he can carve you up like he did.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

On what he takes out of the Patriots’ win Sunday: “It’s two things that I take out of this thing. Number one, Tom Brady saying, ‘Hey, boys, I’m not going anywhere.’ And number two, Rex Ryan having to go back to the drawing board because his defense and offense last night were just overrun. It was as good of a performance as you’re going to see from the Patriots this year, I thought.”

On whether the outcome means more to the Patriots or Jets: “It’s a good question. … With the way the Patriots played the last two weeks and with the way the Jets played last week, I thought the Jets would put up a much better fight. I think the loss by the Jets was really significant because it’s in their building. All week long, Rex Ryan was talking about how important this game was, how much they were going to put into this game, trying to rally the fans. … You watch this game last night, and you watch some of the moments where Tom Brady was standing there late in the second half without anybody near him, I think Rex Ryan has a lot of questions to ask about his defense and the way that they play the Patriots, and it was a little bit of a wake-up call, I thought.”

On if the Patriots are now a lock to win the AFC East: “I would say yes right now, but as evidenced by yesterday in the NFL, I mean, I can’t remember an unpredictable week like we had this week and an unpredictable year that we’ve had this year. It’s easy to say that the Green Bay Packers are going to be the NFC Super Bowl representatives, but I don’t even know if I can say that given their problems on defense.”

On why Sanchez struggles in big games: “I don’t know if it’s the way their offense is set up or their expectations of what their offense will be or the fact that he has a defensive head coach who really likes to play a defensive style of game and try to eat up the clock and how much of that impacts his overall performance. Only he knows and only the Jets know.

“I just think some of the inaccurate throws last night have been a part of his game since he’s gotten to the Jets. To me, when you have a defense that is so beat up and that is missing so many starters and that struggled the entire year getting to opposing quarterbacks and stopping down-the-field throws, you have to wonder what in the world were they thinking about last night. I know that today in New York there will be a lot of talk about how the defense was carved up, but I know this also from wearing the Jet uniform: The quarterback is going to catch a lot of heat here, because to go toe-to-toe with Tom Brady and you have to be spot-on to beat him, and Mark Sanchez was just not that way the last two times these two teams played.”

On what prevents Sanchez from being an elite quarterback: “There’s something about being a professional football player, especially a quarterback, where you are the reason why your team wins. And I don’t always mean that about his performance, but I do mean that about his demeanor, about his competitive spirit, about his desire to be great and his desire to win football games. Mark Sanchez is not there yet, and that’s a learned thing that you have to go through some of these tough times and come out the other end and you have to fight, and that’s exactly what Tom did last night. The defense played good, there’s no question about that, but I thought the offense, especially at the end of the first half, finally started clicking. And you could see that was the Tom Brady, that was the competitive Tom Brady that has won as many games as he has for the New England Patriots.”

On the comparison between this season and last season’s Jets: “This Jet team is not as good as the last two Jet teams in my estimation defensively. Offensively, they should be a little bit better with the emergence of Mark Sanchez in the third year and all that stuff, but their defense obviously last night you could see, doesn’t have what the Giants have. The Giants have a tremendous defensive line who can put pressure on without having to blitz. The Jets can’t do that, and when the Jets do blitz, they start exposing some of their other weaknesses, and those weaknesses are exposed especially at the safety position and linebacker position when it comes to covering tight ends.”

On the Penn State scandal and if he knew anything about the University of Maryland (his alma mater) possibly hiring Jerry Sandusky years ago: “I didn’t even know he was offered the deal, to be honest with you. And I will say this, I will put my two cents in on this whole thing up at Penn State. It’s going to get worse before it gets better, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see that Joe Paterno statue taken down. This is how ugly this thing is going to get. And one thing I think we can all agree on, any time children are involved in a negative light, there’s going to be hell to pay, and there should be.”

Read More: boomer esiason, Jerry Sandusky, Joe Paterno, Mark Sanchez
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