Why the Critics Are Wrong on Mark Sanchez Not Being a Franchise Quarterback
This fact alone should be enough to hold off the critics who say Sanchez is not a franchise quarterback.
Now, while critics may say that Sanchez did not lead the Jets to both those AFC Championship games, but rather it was the defense and the running game, it is not like he was just a spectator.
Sanchez was able to raise his level of play in both the 2009 and 2010 postseason runs, improving his completion percentage from 53.8 in the 2009 regular season to 60.3 percent in the 2009 playoffs, while upping his QB rating of 63 to 92.7.
Against the Patriots, Sanchez had his best postseason performance to date, throwing for three TDs, no INTs and coming away with a QB rating of 127.3; a perfect passer rating is 158.3.
Besides his playoff accomplishments, here are a few more reasons why Mark Sanchez is a franchise quarterback.
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While it may not show, Mark Sanchez has improved.
In his first season, he played in 15 games. He had a completion percentage of 53.8, passed for 2,444 yards, 12 TDs and 20 INTs with a QB rating of 63.
In his second season, Sanchez played in 16 games. He had a completion percentage of 54.8, passed for 3,291 yards, 17 TDs and 13 INTs with a QB rating of 75.3.
Up to this point of the season, Sanchez has improved his completion percentage to 56.9 and raised his QB rating to 82.2
Sanchez's first three seasons' stats are very comparable to fellow New Yorker Eli Manning.
Manning has since won a Super Bowl and is currently fifth in the league in QB rating in his eighth season.
This season, Sanchez's third, he has thrown 23 TDs, 13 INTs, 3,009 yards with a QB rating of 82.2.
If he finishes his last two games strong, he will have numbers comparable to the great Tom Brady.
Brady's third-season stats? He had 23 TDs, 12 INTs, 3,620 yards and a QB rating of 85.9.
Sanchez has improved his completion percentage and QB rating in each of his two seasons. While he may not be able to be the focus of a pass-first offense just yet, he should be able to get there in a season or two.
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While Mark Sanchez does not have a "cannon for an arm," he can make all the throws necessary.
He can gun it when he has to, and he can complete it long when he needs to.
Sanchez can be seen gunning the ball even back in his University of Southern California days here—well, maybe not.
There have been numerous times this season and in his two previous seasons where Sanchez gunned the ball to Dustin Keller, or most recently Plaxico Burress.
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There is no way that Mark Sanchez will ever be mistaken for Michael Vick. That being said, Sanchez is not a sitting duck back in the pocket either.
He does have scrambling ability to get the first down or to maneuver his way out of a possible sack.
In 2009 at the NFL combine, Sanchez ran a 4.88 40-yard dash. To put that in some perspective, New England wide receiver Chad Ochocinco ran a 4.55 40.
Through the first 14 games of this season, Sanchez has five rushing TDs, which ranks him second among QBs.
In this rare case, it's a good thing to say Sanchez is no Peyton Manning.
He Needs Time
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Going into his third season, Mark Sanchez was stripped away of two of his most reliable receivers who he had built a chemistry with in Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery.
Edwards was the New York Jets' leading receiver in 2010, while Cotchery was the team's leading receiver in 2009.
Cotchery was replaced by rookie WR Jeremy Kerley, while Edwards was replaced by 34-year-old, straight-out-of-prison Plaxico Burress.
It was clear to see the lack of chemistry between Sanchez and Burress at the beginning of the season. The two only connected 13 times in the first five games.
The little chemistry they have really started in Week 8 against the San Diego Chargers when Sanchez found Burress in the end zone three times.
On the season, Burress has just 38 receptions.
Sanchez is most comfortable with tight end Dustin Keller; he has played with Keller for longer than anyone in the receiving corps, and it shows. Keller is the Jets' No. 1 receiver, with 50 receptions.
The running game has also transitioned. In Sanchez's rookie season, the Jets' featured back was Thomas Jones. With Jones, the Jets had the league's best running game.
In Sanchez's second season, gone was Jones and in was LaDainian Tomlinson. With Tomlinson as the featured back, the running game dropped to fourth in the league.
This season, with Shonn Greene as the main back, the running game has fallen to 21st in the league.
With two receivers taken away and the declining running game, Sanchez has still improved.
Needs More Trust
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While Rex Ryan has continued to endorse Mark Sanchez as his starting QB, he has shown little trust in Sanchez.
In the offseason, he transformed the ground-and-pound game into a more pass-friendly system that would give his third-year QB more responsibility and a more open game where he can pass downfield with regularity.
With the new offense installed in the opening game against the Dallas Cowboys, Sanchez threw 44 times for 335 yards, two TDs and one interception on the way to a Jets victory.
After an ugly win against the Jacksonville Jaguars that was dominated by the Jets defense, New York traveled to Oakland and let the ball fly again. Sanchez threw 44 times again for 369 yards, two TDs and one INT in a loss.
The loss was somewhat blamed on Sanchez.
But was the Raiders loss his fault or was it because the Jets defense allowed 234 rushing yards and four rushing TDs?
After the loss to the Patriots, Rex pulled the plug on the new pass-friendly offense, and started the transition back to ground-and-pound while neutering Sanchez in the process.
That was quick. Kind of a short leash.
If Ryan believes he has a franchise QB, he must show more trust.
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Not all players can handle the pressure and the criticism that comes with being a quarterback in New York; Mark Sanchez can.
Sanchez embraces the spotlight; he has the personality for it and he is a big-game player.
Everyone has witnessed this as he raises his performance in the playoffs. The bigger the game, the bigger he seems to play.
In college, he dealt with Los Angeles; as a pro, it's New York.
In fact, if Sanchez was a QB on just about any other team, questions and the constant criticism would not even exist.
If he is able to do this, he would have made the playoffs in each of his first three seasons. This feat should be enough to prove that he is a franchise QB, who is only going to improve.
But, it probably won't.