In terms of playing styles, New York Jets quarterbacks Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow do not have much in common. But there is one common thread between this pair that has new Jets offensive coordinator Tony Sparano concerned.
Despite their different strengths, both young quarterbacks have a penchant for turning over the football. Sanchez combined for 26 turnovers (eight lost fumbles, 18 interceptions) and Tebow had 12 turnovers (six lost fumbles, six interceptions) in 2011.
Sparano recently said on a conference call that reducing turnovers at the quarterback position is "very much" a focus for Sanchez and Tebow this offseason.
"It's going to be critical," Sparano said. "We've talked about it now for a couple weeks here, and of course, like I say, we've had limited time with the rules being what they are on the field ... From Day 1, the emphasis has been taking care of the football. You look at the history here in our league, and there aren’t too many teams that are playing in late January and February that turn the ball over a bunch of times."
Sparano said he studied tape of New York's offense in 2011 and noticed things he can improve. He believes if the Jets lower their turnovers it plays right into the hands of their defense, which ranked fifth last season.
"The good news is this football team takes the ball away from people a lot, and they've done a great job in forcing turnovers," Sparano said. "Offensively, we have to do a better job of taking care of the football from our end. We know that, and it's something we are talking about daily in our meetings and with our coaches, and we will put a tremendous amount of emphasis in when we get out on the practice field."
Sanchez and Tebow will play a big part in that. Thirty-eight combined turnovers by the two quarterbacks in a season won't cut it.