The NFL season is just around the corner and it's time for some prognostication. Since there hasn't even been one singe play yet called in preseason, it's a little early to be making predictions. So to scratch our football itch, let's try looking at this past season and predicting the careers of two notable draft picks: Matt Stafford and Mark Sanchez.
Let's start with the basic stat line for the quarterbacks and go from there. Stafford played in 10 games for the Lions, completing 53.3 percent of his passes (201 of 377) for 2,267 yards with 13 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. He also had four fumbles and a quarterback rating of 61.0.
Mark Sanchez played in 15 games for the Jets completing 53.8 % of his passes (196 of 364) for 2,444 yard with 12 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. He fumbled eight times and had a quarterback rating of 63.0.
On paper, the stats for two players are nearly identical. For now, we will table the stats and go into pros and cons for both men. Sanchez and Stafford both have good size, 6'2" and 6'3" respectively. Stafford is seven pounds heavier at 232, compared to Sanchez's 225 pounds.
Their accuracy is nearly the same, although Sanchez seems a bit more mobile. Both men are capable and charismatic leaders as well. Stafford, however, does have a stronger arm, which occasionally gets him in trouble as he almost always throws his full heat, no matter what the pattern.
Which quarterback will have the better career?
While these men seem to be almost carbon copies of each other, a closer look into the stats is revealing. While their numbers are almost exactly alike (Sanchez has more yards per attempt and fumbles), the number of starts is vastly different and telling.
Stafford threw the ball 37.7 times per game while Sanchez threw the ball 24.3 times per contest. This is because the Jets ranked first in both rushing and total defense while the Lions ranked last in defense and 24th in rushing. Basically, Sanchez had a good team around him and Stafford had one of the worst teams in modern history, just one season past an 0-16 record.
Sanchez was put in a position to succeed, and did so admirably with a trip to the AFC title game. Stafford was put in a position to fail, and struggled to a 2-14 record. Playing from behind forced him to throw a great many passes against teams that didn't even need to worry about the threat of the run. The defense never helped Stafford either.
The fact that Stafford put up the same stats as Sanchez with so little help is a clear indication of his talent. The fact that Sanchez took his team to an AFC title game in his rookie year is also a clear indication of his talent. I think both men could be Pro Bowl quarterbacks. I also believe both could win a Super Bowl during their careers (don't laugh Lions fans, it could happen). In this case, however, I will take the production of the man alone over the man with a supporting cast.
Matt Stafford, you are the man.