New York Jets: Elaborating on Greg Cosell's Negative Remarks on Mark Sanchez
In an attempt to expand the short sightedness that is now so commonly associated with evaluating NFL quarterbacks, ESPN devised a new system called the Total Quarterback Rating (TQR) that goes beyond a quick glance of the box score to assess a quarterback’s performance.
This system would take into account game situations, and recognize why the outcome of the play occurred. For instance, why is a quarterback’s passer rating crippled when a pass that hits his receiver right in his hands deflects into the waiting hands of a safety?
While the structure of TQR isn’t flawless, it does signal that throwing a quick slant that goes for seventy yards won’t be a statistic utilized to validate why a quarterback is elite.
Greg Cosell of NFL Films has always known this. Quietly, the most educated football mind not taking checks from an NFL franchise spends a considerable amount of time evaluating players at each position. One of those players is Mark Sanchez, who has generally been praised despite his consistently lackluster play for one reason alone: he’s a “winner.”
While four playoff victories on the road is certainly an accomplishment, it should not be the end-all, be-all of evaluating Sanchez’s performance. It is more important to recognize that in his rookie year, Sanchez did so much to cost his team games that his own head coach implemented a color-coded system to all but take the game out of Sanchez’s hands.
This swift change allowed the Jets to take advantage of meltdowns by the Bengals and Chargers in the playoffs, all of a sudden converting Sanchez’s label from a mistake-riddled rookie to a winner. How?
In 2010, the numbers indicated improvement from the former fifth overall pick. His interception total dropped from 20 to 13, and he threw for 17 scores. Progress, right? Not necessarily.
“He has not progressed and the Jets don’t ask very much of him,” Cosell bluntly stated to Ross Tucker.
After Sanchez’s rookie season, I wrote a piece that contradicted the common sentiment regarding Sanchez. Instead of lauding his ability to not lose games in the post-season, I chose to focus on the Jets’ fear of putting the game in his hands and his immaturity. Two years later, I’ve seen little difference in him.
All summer, I’ve heard nonstop chatter about how Sanchez is emerging into a leader. That’s a joke. It could be true, but to evaluate someone’s leadership skills in the middle of preseason reeks of desperation for stories.
Here’s when we’ll know if Sanchez has become a leader. It’s mid-November, the Jets are 5-5, Plaxico Burress hasn’t accumulated the stats he hoped he would that would allow him to acquire a lucrative contract at year’s end, and Santonio Holmes is having a down year for his standards.
Those are the times where we see how far Sanchez has progressed as a leader. He knows the offense will be predicated off its running attack, and there will be times where he is unable to distribute passes to all of his weapons and keep them happy. If the Jets begin to flounder, the Jets receiving corps could very well turn on Sanchez. How will he handle that?
I read a story in August that explained how Sanchez no longer chit chats with his receivers on the sidelines like he did his rookie year, but actually discusses in-game adjustments. This is not a credit to Sanchez. The fact he was spending his rookie year not focusing on every detail of the football field is, in a word, disturbing.
Additionally, and maybe this is something I have only picked up, but Sanchez has embellished injuries constantly in his career. First of all, he is kept cleaner then every quarterback in his league by his superb offensive line. Yet, there are plenty of instances that he is slow to get up from a hit. Then, two plays later, he is back in there and acted like it never happened.
Look no further than when he was sacked at the end of the first half in Pittsburgh in the AFC championship game. He didn’t get hit that hard, lost the ball and a Steelers defensive back ran it in for the score. The camera then pans to Sanchez writhing in pain clutching his shoulder, acting like it was separated. Two minutes later, he was back leading a two-minute drill and acting like it never happened.
Some will point to that and say it reflects toughness. And I would agree, if he didn’t do that so frequently.
In addition to calling his leadership skills into question, it’s difficult to say Sanchez has emerged as a truly respectable quarterback in terms of his physical ability.
For all the gushing Rex Ryan does about Sanchez, he and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer are reluctant to delegate him much freedom in the passing game. They said the addition of Plaxico Burress will allow them to air it out, but throughout the duration of the pre-season, as well as his career, Sanchez has frequently been told to drop back and throw quick slants to his star-studded receiver cast, then let them do the rest.
If that doesn’t define game manager, I don’t know what does.
Most of his drop backs have consisted of one read. While he and his coaches have talked about his development of reading defenses, he rarely scans through defenses and finds an open receiver on his third read.
Truth be told, he usually throws it to the first guy he sees, presumably a premeditated call by his coaches. They isolate a receiver on a defensive back one-on-one, and hope he is able to stick it in there for 10 yards.
Rex Ryan says a lot of things, but his comment regarding Sanchez's performance against the Giants says it all.
"I was happy with the way Mark played."
Happy with constant misreads, forcing it into bad coverage and essentially making one good throw the whole night? This doesn't reflect the thinking of a coach who has said that he believes his offense can be elite. It indicates a coach who is concerned about tickling his quarterback's ego.
Sanchez, ever concerned with perception, said he thought the Jets were sharp, a laughable statement. Fans watching the game may not be in the know like coaches and players, but they aren't blind. To use the word sharp to describe that first half performance, where the Jets' only two first downs came via one-yard plays on 4th-and-1, is a ridiculous statement.
This isn’t a sign of a very good quarterback. It’s an indication of one that is decent at best, and one the coaches still don’t trust, despite constantly talking him up. Don’t listen to me, take Cosell’s word.
“I guarantee you Mark Sanchez was not the fifth pick on their board. And in fact, he’s somewhat of a limited player. But he’s on an offense and a team where they run the ball effectively, the defense drives the team, and they almost play to minimize the impact of Mark Sanchez on the game.
“Yet they’ve made it to two AFC championship games in a row, so you hear all that (stuff) about how he’s a winner, when in fact, they’re playing to minimize his impact on the game.”
In the first three games, Mark Sanchez and the Jets will face the 25th- and 27th-ranked defenses from 2010, as well as a secondary that is coming off the loss of Nnamdi Asomugha. It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest to see him compile three straight productive games, then have the media confirm for everyone that he has arrived as a top-tier quarterback.
But let’s pay attention to the guy who is paid to evaluate, and not react. Cosell’s damning comments on Sanchez may initially be dismissed, but it is the most accurate assessment there is. He’s just not that good.
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