Why the Critics Are Wrong, Mark Sanchez Really Is a Franchise Quarterback

Chris Dela Rosa@chris_deezyContributor IDecember 21, 2011

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 18:  Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York Jets warms up before the start of the Jets game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on December 18, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

When people think about franchise quarterbacks, the common names thrown around are Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers.  The thread linking these three quarterbacks is how a franchise can build around these quarterbacks and see results.

Meanwhile, New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez has been facing harsh criticism since being drafted by the Jets in 2009.

A lot of the criticism Sanchez has drawn over the years has come from his poor decisions on the field. Since the start of his rookie season, Sanchez has thrown 46 interceptions, 20 of them coming in his rookie season.

Sanchez's interception problem comes from his inability to make proper reads down field as a play is developing. 

Take this play against the Raiders for example.  First off, it was 1st-and-10 late in the first quarter, which means that there was plenty of time to score.  Sanchez should not have even tried to force the pass into the end zone, he should have thrown the ball away.

The biggest problem is the way he tried to force the pass into the end zone.  Time and time again, Sanchez throws an interception when he is trying to rocket the ball into a tight space where his intended receiver is covered by at least two defenders.  It is because of this that Sanchez has already thrown 13 interceptions this season.

What most people forget about when they criticize Sanchez though, is that he still a young kid under the New York spotlight still trying to acclimate to the National Football League.  And judging by the last few years, he has handled it relatively well.

This year, one of the biggest story lines around the National Football League has been Tim Tebow.  Many people argue that he does not seem like the typical quarterback, but he wins games and that is all that matters.

It is odd that the same argument has not been applied to Sanchez over the last few years.  Something he has done that Tebow has yet to do is win enough games to not only lead his team to the playoffs, but he and the Jets have come within the Super Bowl two years in a row.

His ability to win games has not only been shown in the playoffs with convincing wins against the San Diego Charges (2010 playoffs) and New England Patriots (2011 playoffs), but he has been able to play as a clutch quarterback consistently in the regular season, as well. 

While it may not be the optimal way to win games, Sanchez has had to lead his team to multiple comeback victories over the last few years.  The most recent one being against the Washington Redskins two weeks ago when the Jets were trailing going into the final five minutes, but went on a tear and later won the game by 15 points.

Some other notable comeback victories over the last few seasons are: the Week 1 victory against Dallas after being down by 14 with 10 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, or the Week 11 victory against Houston last year when the Jets had 55 seconds to go almost the length of the field to score a touchdown.

As for Sanchez's actual skills as a quarterback, he is consistently progressing.  The Jets have been a run-heavy team in recent years and with Sanchez, they can be take advantage of play-action fakes. Sanchez is really mobile in and out of the pocket.  He can move his feet well and in most cases evade rushers, thus extending plays so that he can find the open man.

Not only can he be a mobile quarterback, he has the arm to be a good quarterback.  Watch this rocket of a pass he throws to Santonio Holmes in the Jets' embarrassing loss to the Eagles last week.  While it was a horrible game, Sanchez had this great throw, even if it was right over a massive crowd.

Something most people do not keep in mind when criticizing Sanchez is that he is still a 25-year-old quarterback.  Sure, he was drafted fifth overall two years ago, but expecting him to be the next Peyton Manning or even Phillip Rivers in his first three years is a little much.  

Over the last few years he has progressed and has shown that he has the makings of a being a good quarterback, so give him some time and you will come around to seeing Sanchez as a franchise quarterback.