NFL Preseason 2012: Hope for Sanchez, Jets in Year 4 of the Rex Ryan Era

Adam WaksmanCorrespondent IIIAugust 16, 2012

MIAMI - OCTOBER 12:  Quarterback Mark Sanchez #6  of the New York Jets scrambles against the Miami Dolphins at Land Shark Stadium on October 12, 2009 in Miami, Florida. Miami defeated New York 31-27.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
Marc Serota/Getty Images

After what has been rightfully deemed a disappointing third year for Jets franchise quarterback Mark Sanchez, pessimism has grown about his career even to the point where some expect Tim Tebow to see real playing time at quarterback.

Inflated Tim Tebow optimism aside, Jets fans have good reason to be hopeful for an improved year four for the Sanchez/Rex Ryan experiment.

Mark is still young

Sanchez is 25 years old and has only played one year in college. His inconsistencies and mistakes are common for a quarterback of his experience, even a starter in the NFL. If we look at his QB rating from his first three seasons, we see that it increased consistently (63.0, 75.3, 78.2). His TD/INT ratio has similarly improved (12/20, 17/13, 26/18).

Even his completion percentage, for which he is often hounded, has improved each year (53.8, 54.8, 56.7). The obvious conclusion: Despite the myth of his third year regression, he continues to improve at a steady pace.

The Schottenheimer Bump

Brian Schottenheimer, the Jets' offensive coordinator—until losing his job this off-season—has been a major hindrance to quarterbacks thus far in his career.

Despite coaching some truly great quarterbacks, he has yet to help any of them reach their potential while under his coaching. The year a quarterback escapes from Schottenheimer—something I call the Schottenheimer bump—is a potent thing. Here are some examples:

2006: The oft-criticized Drew Brees leaves QB coach Schottenheimer behind, taking the money offered by the Saints, throwing for 842 yards more than he ever has and starting a tremendous career in New Orleans.

2008: Chad Pennington breaks ties with offensive coordinator Schottenheimer and the Jets, going to the rival Dolphins and transforming them from a 1-15 team to an 11-5 division winner, winning comeback player of the year and coming second in the MVP voting.

2009: Brett Favre leaves a disappointing year with the Jets and an 81.0 passer rating behind to have an inspiring year with the Vikings, an NFC championship game appearance and a 107.2 season passer rating—the best of his career—along with MVP contention.

His coach? Tony Sparano, the new Jets offensive coordinator.

Forget Tebow

However impossible this might sound, we need to let it go for a while. 

We know that Tebow won't start as a result of playing well. He'll only start as a result of bad play from Sanchez, at which point the season is lost. Even Joe Namath, a naysayer of late, has realized this:

There’s no doubt about it at all. At this point, certainly. And Mark’s going to get better. He’s going into his fourth year. Golly, I remember a team that won a championship with a quarterback in his fourth year. I hope it happens again.

So forget Tebow for a while, forget 2011 and have some hope for a quarterback who may yet become the pro bowl player he was drafted to be.