Oakland Raiders JaMarcus Russel > New York Jets Mark Sanchez?

Paul SalmanSenior Analyst IJanuary 21, 2010

ESPN – The New York Jets’ stalwart defense has carried rookies at both quarterback and running back to within one game of the Super Bowl; the Jets had better make this playoff run count, however, because while Shonn Greene looks like he’ll be a good player for years, there are signs of a bleak future ahead for Mark Sanchez. His performance in San Diego was historically inept. Sanchez threw for only 100 yards on 23 attempts, a woeful average of 4.4 yards per attempt. Since 1978, 119 quarterbacks have thrown at least 10 passes in a playoff game and averaged less than 5 yards per attempt; only 29 of them, including Sanchez, were lucky enough to win. For Sanchez, we’re limiting our sample to players who were first-year starters. Now, regardless of which team each Football Outsiders writer cheers for, we are all football fans first; we want to see good young players succeed. So imagine our horror when the closest match for Sanchez turned out to be current Raiders punch line JaMarcus Russell. In 2008, Russell completed 198 of 368 passes for 2,423 yards and 13 TDs (with 8 INTs). This season, Sanchez went 196-for-364 for 2,444 yards, 12 TDs and 20 INTs. Their completion percentages were identical (ahhh!): both at 53.8 percent. Russell started 15 games at age 23 in 2008; Sanchez started 15 games at age 23 in 2009. The biggest difference is in interceptions, where Sanchez was significantly worse, throwing 20 interceptions to Russell’s eight. Other players similar to Sanchez give little reason for hope. The best of the bunch are Jim Everett and Neil Lomax. There are also former first-rounders like Byron Leftwich, Tim Couch and Matt Leinart — and then you get guys like Tony Banks, Scott Campbell and Billy Joe Tolliver. Obviously, this is one year, and Sanchez was drafted higher than most of these comparable players for a reason. He has more potential. But except for the wild-card win against Cincinnati, he really hasn’t shown it.

Of course in the end its all about W's and we can compare this run by Sanchez to a young Big Ben. There is, as the article says, more potential with Sanchez, we just have to wait it out. He is doing a great job managing games, however as Trent Dilfer, who himself had to go through this, says in the Daily News, managing a game as a Quarterback is not as easy as it seems:

Dilfer, a studio analyst for ESPN, said Sanchez's job isn't as easy as it might appear.

"It goes against everything in your DNA, everything you were brought up to be," he said. "You've got the ball in your hands and you want to make plays, but that's not what you're being asked to do. You're told to make a play only when necessary.

"There are far less opportunities and you never get into a rhythm," Dilfer continued. "Every mistake is compounded. It's a difficult way to play quarterback. You're constantly put in third-and-6 situations. It's run, run, pass. You never get any freebie completions. It seems like 27 people are at the line, and you know you can make a quick throw for eight yards, but the coach doesn't want that."

Dilfer said he understands why Sanchez threw that interception against the Chargers. He felt Sanchez had become impatient, perhaps frustrated, and forced a pass on a seam route to Braylon Edwards, thinking it was the right throw against a zone blitz.

As I stated in a previous post, this Jets team is playing like a team of destiny. Although it makes sick to think it, but they have a real shot here with that defense against Peyton Manning.
Let me just say that although the stats are interesting and tell an intriguing story, in no way do I believe that Russel is, was, or ever will be a better Quarterback than Mark Sanchez. Sanchez has "IT", whatever that may be. He has a good football IQ and will develop. He started 16 games at USC. When you add that to the 18 games he has started in the NFL, he is only 34 games removed from playing High School football, while being only 1 game away from the Superbowl.

Mark Sanchez will be ok.