Mark Sanchez Compares Favorably to...Eli Manning?

Carl D. CarlucciCorrespondent INovember 10, 2010

DETROIT - NOVEMBER 07:  Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York Jets looks to throw a pass during the game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on November 7, 2010 in Detroit, Michigan. The Jets defeated the Lions 23-20 in overtime.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images

Why this comparison hasn't been brought up before is bewildering.

It's almost too perfect to pass over, yet nobody ever seems to point to Mark Sanchez's career trajectory and compare it to another New York quarterback: Eli Manning.

Instead, there seems to be a definite split between Jets fans, who seem to think Sanchez is the best thing since Joe Namath, and everybody else, who look at Sanchez's multitude of interceptions in his rookie season and low completion percentage and scream, "BUST!"

OK, let's go back in time to Eli Manning's first season in the NFL.

Elisha, coming off three seasons as the primary starter at Ole Miss, was 23. He played in nine games and started seven at the age of 23. He threw for 1,043 yards, six touchdowns and nine interceptions, completing 48.2 percent of his passes for a 55.4 quarterback rating.

In his second season, Manning started all 16 games and threw for 3,762 yards, 24 touchdowns and 17 interceptions, completing 52.8 percent of his passes.

Now let's take a look at Sanchez' first two seasons right now.

Sanchez should, in all actuality, be in his first season in the NFL. Instead, he left a year early and spent his first season starting 15 of 16 games for the New York Jets. He passed for 2,444 yards, 12 touchdowns and 20 interceptions, completing 53.8 percent of his passes.

If you take Eli Manning's first season stats and extend them to a 15-game stretch, even accounting for the two games where he played just a little bit, they are very similar to Mark Sanchez's first season.

In his second season, Sanchez has thrown 10 touchdowns to just five interceptions for 1,692 yards and a completion percentage of 53.5 percent. That equals a 79.4 rating through eight games.

How much different is that than Manning's 75.9 rating in his second season?

Not much at all. And if anything, it's more impressive considering Sanchez's inexperience.

Starting one season at USC, and now halfway through his second season as a 23-year old, Sanchez has been asked to do just as much as Manning at a younger age.

However, this does mean that Jets fans need to face facts when it comes to Sanchez. Manning posted a sub-70 QB Rating in his first four seasons as a quarterback.

Such a projection does not bode well for Sanchez over the next couple of years. While he has shown spurts of franchise-quality quarterback play, he is still raw and will likely remain an unfinished product for the next season or two.

Then again, Sanchez's critics, as well as Manning's former critics, if any of them even have the gall to show face anymore, need to recognize that this is a quarterback that has the ability to make plays but just lacks consistency.

Jets fans need no further evidence then the combination of Sanchez's play in the 2009 postseason, which saw him garner the highest postseason rating of any quarterback ever, and his come-from-behind victory this weekend against Detroit.

Hopefully Sanchez is always this cool, and as cool as Eli Manning was in the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots.

He shows signs of it in his play. Quite honestly, the fact that he is better at rolling out and throwing the ball bodes well for his continued development. You can always teach a quarterback how to play in the pocket, but when he's out of the pocket instinct takes over.

That is where Mark Sanchez succeeds.

So how can Jets fans not be excited about their quarterback? Especially when compared with the quarterback from their crosstown rival?

Surely Giants fans are hesitant to give Sanchez the same praise as their quarterback. After all, Manning won a Super Bowl.

But at the same time, one cannot help but be intrigued by the similarities between the two in the early part of their careers.

Both were not as accurate as they could be. Both were granted the starting reins after a short period of time. But most importantly, both were the beneficiary of good teams.

In Eli's first year as the primary starter the Giants went 11-5. In his second year they went 8-8. In his third year they went 10-6 and won the Super Bowl.

Sanchez has a head start on Manning, going 8-7 in his first year as a starter and jumping out to a 6-2 start in his second year.

Both had an excellent supporting cast early on.

Hopefully, for Jets fans' sake, the supporting cast can help lift their quarterback to an early Super Bowl victory.