Mark Sanchez and 7 NFL Players Who Have Fallen Furthest in 2012

Thomas GaliciaContributor IIDecember 2, 2012

Mark Sanchez and 7 NFL Players Who Have Fallen Furthest in 2012

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    The 2012 season will be known as the season where plenty of stars fell from grace.

    Mark Sanchez is the most striking example of this. Only two years ago he led the Jets to an 11-5 record and a second consecutive AFC Championship appearance.

    But in 2012, there's a possibility that his Week 13 game against the Arizona Cardinals was his final game, and it wasn't even Tim Tebow who supplanted him.

    Tebow could also very likely be on this list, as he went from being last season's NFL sensation to instead being an afterthought thanks to poor use of what he could bring to the table as well as a rib injury that has kept him out of the last two games.

    This will be a well-populated list, and in fact should see some names omitted that a lot of people feel should be on the list. Let's take a look at seven players from this season who have fallen furthest in 2012.

Tim Tebow

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    You could say that Tim Tebow had fallen from grace in 2012, but unlike with some of the other players, this wasn't exactly his fault.

    He went to the wrong team, a team that had just given their quarterback a three-year extension worth $20.5 million. Reportedly he chose the Jets, but I don't see why he would.

    Since coming to New York, Tebow hasn't been used effectively. When he has been used, however, the Jets haven't had as much success as they thought, and it even ended up getting Tim Tebow hurt.

    Now with the way Greg McElroy played on Sunday, we might not see Tebow again for the rest of the season.

    I doubt he's a New York Jet next year.

Jake Long

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    Jake Long is the AFC's leading vote-getter at offensive tackle.

    If this doesn't shock you, you haven't seen too many Miami Dolphins games.

    You haven't seen the missed blocks, or Long getting overpowered by guys that just two seasons ago wouldn't have had a chance against him. His run-blocking has slipped, while his pass-blocking has at times been cover-your-eyes awful.

    Worse news for Long is that this is a contract year for him. Next offseason he will be a free agent, and prior to the start of this season, the talk was whether Miami would be able to afford to keep Jake Long.

    Nowadays, though, the talk after he injured his right triceps is if he played in his final game as a Miami Dolphin, especially based on how well Jonathan Martin filled in for him against New England. They will be able to afford to re-sign him, but will it be worth it for them to do so?

    When you're asking questions about your former number one pick four years after you chose him, that's a pretty big fall from grace, especially considering how great his first three seasons were.

Nnamdi Asomugha

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    What happened to the man that once upon a time was the best player on the Oakland Raiders and only one season ago was one of the most coveted free agents on the market?

    Nnamdi Asomugha has only one interception and nine pass deflections so far this year. Yes, he does have 32 tackles, but how many of those tackles came after a receiver beat him out for the ball?

    Asomugha has also shown up on plenty of wide receivers' 2012 highlight reel, especially Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones, who was targeted five times in Philadelphia's Week 8 matchup against Atlanta. Jones caught five passes for 123 yards and a touchdown with Asomugha covering him on each pass thrown to him.

    That wasn't the only game where we've seen Nnamdi look nothing like his past self, as his season has been almost as terrible as the season his team has had so far in 2012.

Antonio Gates

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    Remember when Antonio Gates was a certified red-zone threat?

    I almost feel bad including him in this piece, since he almost single-handedly won my fantasy league for me two years ago. But that's the problem: it was two years ago, as this year I went with him again, and now I'm eliminated from the postseason (or at least it feels that way).

    That's not all Gates' fault; I'll admit I didn't have the best draft. However, Gates' struggles have been well-documented outside of the realm of pretend football.

    Gates only has 32 receptions for four touchdowns and 368 yards. Considering he was just about a cinch to score in the red zone prior to this season, this is a very low number of, well, everything, statistically.

    In fact, Gates is the subject of the chicken-or-egg argument that will be highlighted on the next slide.

Philip Rivers

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    The chicken-or-egg argument I brought up in the last slide goes like this: are the numbers of Antonio Gates down because Philip Rivers is doing so terribly, or is the decline of Gates partly to blame for Rivers' struggles?

    My first instinct is to answer that with "Norv Turner," but considering that Gates has had his best years under Turner (who loves using tight ends) tells me that that's not the whole story.

    With Rivers, however, you can't look past the fact that he has looked awful this season.

    Rivers has thrown for 2,969 yards, 18 touchdowns and 15 interceptions this season. Let's key in on those 15 interceptions, which is two more interceptions than he had two years ago, and only five away from matching his career high of 20 (which he attained last season).

    At least last season the Chargers were still in the race on the final afternoon in the season. This season San Diego doesn't have any chance at winning the AFC West (Denver clinched the division in Week 13) and are slipping far out of contention for the final AFC playoff spot at 4-8.

Michael Vick

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    What would this list be without Michael Vick?

    He's the first name many would think of that belong on this list, and the numbers show why.

    Vick's season is all but over after a terrible run. To go along with his 2,165 yards and 11 touchdowns in the air, he also threw for nine interceptions. While running the ball he had 307 yards and one touchdown, but he's also fumbled the ball 10 times.

    Vick's season is likely over due to a concussion, and his time in Philadelphia likely has come to an end as well.

Mark Sanchez

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    Where do we begin with Sanchez? Actually, let me first start with a tangent on New York Jets' offensive coordinator Tony Sparano.

    Is it possible that Sparano is a quarterback career-killer? Sanchez actually had his best season statistically speaking in 2011, as it was other issues that killed the Jets' playoff chances. On top of that, he did lead New York to two AFC Championship berths in his first two years, which is pretty impressive.

    Now his former offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer wasn't exactly the ideal offensive coordinator, but he is a shade better than Sparano, who has also coached Tony Romo and Chad Henne at the quarterback position.

    Romo did lead the Cowboys to a 13-3 record with Sparano calling the plays in Dallas; however, Jason Garrett was the real passing game coordinator in Dallas that year. As for Chad Henne, he's been pretty good since taking over for Blaine Gabbert in Jacksonville (and will likely start off 2013 as the starting quarterback), but under Sparano in Miami, Dolphins fans wondered when he would ever "get" it.

    So now Sparano is offensive coordinator for the New York Jets, and two out of three quarterbacks are on this list. Anyone notice a theme?

    And let's not mention general manager Mike Tannenbaum's decision making this offseason.

    With that said, Sanchez does deserve some responsibility for his fall. He's had chance after chance this season with the Jets, yet could never capitalize. Some thought he couldn't go lower than his butt-fumble against New England on Thanksgiving, but being benched in favor of Greg McElroy is likely the nail in the coffin.

    By no means has Sanchez fallen the farthest of the players on this list (it's still Mike Vick), but his fall has been a fast one. The saving grace for him is that he is still a young player, and in the right system on the right team with the right coach, his career will likely be saved.