New York Jets: After 3 Years, Who Is Mark Sanchez?

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New York Jets: After 3 Years, Who Is Mark Sanchez?
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

The task here is simple: Vet Mark Sanchez through his closest statistical comparisons, the quarterbacks since the merger with similar early-career numbers.

The reason for the task is more complicated.

The Jets find themselves at a crucial, and under-reported, crossroads this offseason.

In a sense, nothing has changed. They are as they were each of the past two years, a team torn between the win-now urgency of a veteran core and the uneven development of their young quarterback.

In past offseasons that incongruity went unmentioned, plastered over by moderate playoff success and Rex Ryan's bravado.

But when that same formula culminates in a .500 finish and a locker-room meltdown, more penetrating criticism begins to percolate.

Whether 2011 was a blip or the opening act of a sustained decline depends on the future play of Sanchez.

It isn't surprising or even intelligent to say a football team's fortunes rise and fall with its quarterback, but in New York nothing is as easy as it sounds.

Sanchez is young, handsome, Mexican-American and plays in the country's biggest media market. Inevitably, his supporters and detractors get sucked into the media-fueled vortex of subjective analysis.

He's been called winner, loser, iron man, egg shell, blue collar and hot dog. When he ate an actual hot dog, it inspired another round of the same.

So to cut through all the crap, this analysis deals solely with numbers.

Wipe away all the varnish and mud.

What does Mark Sanchez look like underneath?

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