By James Walker
The New York Jets and Miami Dolphins played conservative on offense for long stretches last season. Neither team ran wide-open, pass-heavy offenses due to protecting quarterbacks Mark Sanchez and Ryan Tannehill.
But both quarterbacks will be relied on more in 2013. Sanchez, if he wins the starting job, will be playing in an aggressive West Coast scheme under first-year offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg. Tannehill has much better weapons and will throw more due impressive free-agent acquisitions such as tight end Dustin Keller and receivers Mike Wallace andBrandon Gibson.
With that said, one area where both AFC East quarterbacks must improve in passing out the shotgun formation. According to ESPN Stats and Information, Tannehill and Sanchez were ranked 31st and 34th, respectively, in completion percentage from the shotgun. Tannehill completed just 57 percent of his passes from the formation with seven touchdowns and nine interceptions, while Sanchez completed 55.8 percent of his passes with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Tannehill lined up in the shotgun 337 times last season. That is more than Super Bowl-winning quarterback Joe Flacco (315), Robert Griffin III (302), Ben Roethlisberger (260) and other notables. But with little weapons, Tannehill didn't have much success. His Total Quarterback Rating was 45.1 from the shotgun formation. Nine of Tannehillís 13 interceptions in 2012 also were a result from lining up in the shotgun, which must improve.
Sanchez was even more of a disaster when he didnít line up directly under center. His QBR from the shotgun was 19.2, which was the second-lowest rating in the NFL. Sanchez also didnít have many weapons to work with and averaged just 5.88 yards per attempt from the shotgun.
Both the Jets and Dolphins will run West Coast offenses this season aimed at pushing the pace and scoring points. Thriving in the shotgun is an important piece to the puzzle, especially on third downs. Keep an eye on the progress of Sanchez and Tannehill playing in that formation this year.