Does Mark Sanchez Really Give Jets Best Opportunity to Win?
According to Gang Green's All-Pro center Nick Mangold—who could be considered somewhat of an authority on the subject—that's the thought.
The seven-year veteran said the following to the New York Post: "Whoever gives us the best chance to do that, we want out there -- and at this point, Mark gives us that best chance.”
Let's examine whether or not there's legitimate validity to Mangold's Sanchez-backing comment that's sure to reverberate through the New York City media.
Mark Sanchez's candidacy
The QB's stats from 2011 and 2012
Being the quarterback for one of the Big Apple's two NFL teams is easily one of the most pressure-packed jobs in professional team sports.
Just check Eli Manning's wild roller coaster ride of a career.
There was a time when Sanchez appeared to be the ideal game-managing signal-caller for Rex Ryan's defensively sound Jets.
But after consecutive trips to—and subsequent losses in—the AFC title game, Sanchez's reputation significantly diminished.
His individual development and statistics were on the upward swing until 2012, when the team around him began to cave in.
Here's an illustration of Sanchez's career as it relatively flashed before it disappointingly flattened:
In fairness, those ghastly 2012 numbers don't tell the entire story. Sanchez didn't exactly have a wealth of skill-position talent around him, especially due to Dustin Keller's inability to stay healthy and Santonio Holmes' Week 5 foot injury that sent him to season-ending IR.
The ripple effect that the loss of Darrelle Revis had on the defense shouldn't be ignored, either. Although it's difficult to quantify, the effectiveness of a defense certainly influences the play of said team's quarterback.
But nonetheless, Sanchez regressed in 2012 after a 2011 season in which his play was at least marginally acceptable. The most recent downward trend isn't exactly the soundest support of Mangold's endorsement, that's for sure.
To put Sanchez's 2011 and 2012 campaigns into perspective, here's how they compared to some of the other inept quarterbacks over the same period:
Statistics in this table are averages of the 2011 and 2012 seasons.
Even factoring in a career year in 2011, Sanchez has clearly cemented himself among the league's most inefficient quarterbacks.
Geno Smith's candidacy
Quarterbacks who've been drafted high in 2011 or 2012
Geno Smith may be Andrew Luck 2.0 or he may be Blaine Gabbert 2.0, no one truly knows at this juncture.
Chances are, though, he'll fall somewhere between those two recently drafted quarterbacks.
Over the last few years, we've seen an influx of rookie signal-callers play early in their NFL careers, and as a whole, there's been an expected bell curve of success in that group.
Seeing that Smith has never taken a professional snap, it's nearly impossible to correctly predict how he'll fare in the NFL compared to Sanchez. But how would he stack up to New York's incumbent signal-caller if he simply becomes the "average" of every quarterback selected in Rounds 1-3 over the last two seasons?
Ryan Mallett and Brock Osweiler were not included.
Based on the those rather striking numbers, the average quarterback taken "early" in 2011 or 2012 has been more efficient than Sanchez during that same time frame. Therefore, if Smith could reach those averages, in theory, he'd be a more viable option than the downtrodden veteran.
Now, obviously, this is all far from an exact science. The experience advantage Sanchez has over Smith, the possibility of improvement in a new offense scheme and the return of Holmes are just a few rebuttals that would be instantly mentioned to refute the conclusion drawn from the above comparative chart.
But with the way college football is preparing quarterbacks for the NFL today, along with professional coaches increasingly integrating more collegiate, spread-style aspects to their offensive philosophies, it would be quite the disparagement of Smith's capabilities to think he couldn't at least near those averages in the same Jets offense as Sanchez.
At this point, with so much uncertainty surrounding the former West Virginia star and plenty of bad play from Sanchez fresh in my memory, I'll go with the averages and say Geno Smith, not Mark Sanchez, gives the New York Jets the best chance to win in 2013.
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