Mark Sanchez is the anti-Tony Romo. He leads game-winning comebacks against poorly conceived prevent defenses. He has a great playoff record. (Matthew Berry once even described and/or passed along someone else describing him as ‘sex on a stick‘ which is offensive to sex, sticks, and the concept of language in general.
If you believe that a quarterback is responsible for his team’s performance on defense and special teams, if you believe that a quarterback is responsible for the quality of coaching he receives and not the other way around, in short, if you believe that a team’s ability to win in spite of his play is in fact an intangible quality of desire and clutchness that somehow originates within the mind of that quarterback, then Mark Sanchez is a great quarterback and Tony Romo sucks.
If, on the other hand, you believe effects transpire after their causes and as a result of them (which does appear to be the empirically verified state of reality, at least on non-quantum scales), then you have no other choice but to see Mark Sanchez for what he is: a terrible NFL quarterback.
Everyone knows Mark Sanchez was awful last year when the Jets made the AFC Championship game. If you don’t, you’ve either been living under a rock or spending too much time reading Monday Morning Quarterback. Sanchez finished 28th in accuracy percentage according to Pro Football Focus. He finished 25th in Advanced NFL Stats’ excellent Expected Points Added Per Play metric (a number which included his playoff run), and 28th in DVOA by FO.
There was never much reason to believe Mark Sanchez would be any good other than some rather fuzzy ideas about what it means to be a good leader. Sanchez was a highly recruited quarterback out of high school, but was no Carson Palmer or Matt Leinart at Southern Cal. Although Pete Carroll never impresses as a solid judge of NFL talent, he told people in no uncertain terms that Sanchez wasn’t ready. He thought he’d be a second round pick. Most other talent evaluators did too. After all, Sanchez is short by franchise QB standards and has mediocre arm strength.
All of this is well and good, but Sanchez wins. And he’s young. His goal for 2011 was to improve his completion percentage, and, while that’s been a spectacular failure, it is within the realm of possibility that he still breaks out as an NFL passer. Or is it? The following chart shows his list of most historically comparable players in the last 20 years.
And it appears to be better than 1 in a million. When you consider his draft pedigree, Sanchez has the most in common with David Carr, Matt Leinart, Patrick Ramsey, and Eli Manning. That’s not a great list, although Eli has obviously won a Super Bowl. Of course, Eli is also much more physically gifted. You’re simply not supposed to take a QB with Sanchez’s measurables in the first round, much less the Top 5 picks, which probably places him more squarely in the Drew Brees range.
If there’s a dream scenario for Jets fans, it’s that Sanchez becomes Drew Brees. Arguing against such a breakout would be their respective college careers. Brees was a much more accomplished college quarterback. As Pete Carroll pointed out in his ill-conceived press conference, the success rate for college players with Sanchez’s profile is not particularly good.
What should the Jets do now? Well, they aren’t going anywhere in 2011 with Sanchez at the helm. A truly gutsy organization – and whatever faults the Jets have, they don’t appear in short supply of intestinal fortitude – would simply trade Sanchez right now, before the trade deadline.
Finding a trade partner would be pretty easy. I mean, this is the guy who led the Jets to back-to-back AFC Championship games. NFL execs eat that stuff up. You’d be hard-pressed to name one horribly run franchise that wouldn’t be in the bidding. Cleveland, Denver, Miami, Seattle, Minnesota, Cincinnati. Sure, most of those teams either supposedly have their QBOTF in place or actually do have a superior option, but I can’t see any of them passing on Sanchez, except for perhaps Pete Carroll, who got to see first hand how much worse Mark Sanchez was than Matt Leinart.
Then sign David Garrard for this year. I won’t bore you with a lot more stats, but Garrard is a far better QB than Mark Sanchez. If you don’t believe me, just imagine Mark Sanchez playing for Jack Del Rio with Jason Hill as his No. 2 WR.
Now, Garrard wouldn’t know the offense, but if you believe media reports out of New York, Holmes, Burress, and Mason don’t know the offense either. Or don’t like it. Or can’t catch. Or all of the above.
Of course, the Jets probably wouldn’t make the playoffs, but they’re not going to make the playoffs this year anyway. They could then use their own pick and the very high pick they acquired from Cleveland/Denver/Miami/Minnesota to move up for one of the elite QBs in this draft.
Once rabid Jets fans see a legitimate NFL quarterback behind center, they’ll forget all about Mark Sanchez.