Sometimes it’s hard to look at your favorite team and be honest with yourself, especially when honesty involves a lot of three-and-outs, interceptions, and losses. But past results often help. And past results indicate that it’s very hard to win with a rookie quarterback.
It’s an assumption that Mark Sanchez is going to be the Week One starter and take the majority of the snaps this season, but I’d say it’s a good bet. And if that’s the case, it’s simply not realistic to expect the New York Jets to make the playoffs.
Since 1966, only eight rookie quarterbacks have started in a playoff game. Of course two –– Baltimore’s Joe Flacco and Atlanta’s Matt Ryan –– did it last season. But I don’t think we’re seeing the beginning of a trend.
It’s incredibly difficult for a quarterback to play at a high level in his first year in the NFL. Could Sanchez? Of course. He was awesome in high school. He was awesome at Southern Cal. But a rookie QB is a huge question mark. And for that, it’s hard to expect the Jets to be much more than a .500 team.
Now the Jets do have something in common with the Baltimore and Atlanta teams that reached the postseason last year: They have a solid rushing attack. Atlanta was the second-best rushing team in the NFL last year; Baltimore was the fourth best. The Jets were ninth (fourth in the AFC),
Running backs Thomas Jones and Leon Washington are currently in contract disputes, but assuming they’re on the field, in addition to New York’s third-round draft pick, Shonn Greene, the Jets should have a very formidable ground game.
Nothing takes the pressure off a quarterback more than his team’s ability to run the football and if the Jets can do that effectively, they’ll have a much better chance to be successful. But with a new head coach, and more importantly, a rookie quarterback, in addition to playing in what should be a very tough AFC East, anything better than a mediocre record would be a pleasant surprise.