Week 11 Preview: The Sanchise Must Step Up

It’s a few hours before kick-off and a few hours before I’ll go to bed with dreams of a Jets victory in my head.  Another 6am start for this guy.  Coffee and Gang Green – it’s become a ritual.

A lot has been written about Mark Sanchez the past week.  When they lose, he always seems to get the blame.  When they win, he rarely gets the credit.  That is New York in a nutshell.  Expectations have been sky high since the Jets traded up to the 5th pick to get him a few years back.  He was to be the next Namath.  The QB with the GQ smile (and now the pictures to match). The franchise savior – “The Sanchise.”

Fans and the media have been very hard on him since he took his first start, despite his 4-0 record in the playoffs (all on the road – more road playoff victories than Brett Favre had in his career) and 2 straight trips to the AFC championship game.  Name another top drafted QB who has done that in the last 5 years?

So the question remains – Is Sanchez good?

ESPN’s Aaron Schatz had a really interesting take on this today:

Sanchez is a prime example of this problem. When he plays well in the playoffs, some fans insist he’s a winner whose regular-season struggles can be ignored. When he has a bad game in the regular season, other fans come out and declare that the Jets will never win with Sanchez running the offense. Very few fans seem to be able to accept the truth: Mark Sanchez is a slightly below-average quarterback who still hasn’t necessarily reached his potential.

The last part of that sentence is an important part of the Sanchez story. He’s not a good quarterback yet, but Sanchez is progressing instead of stagnating. His completion rate, touchdown rate, net yards per attempt and NFL passer rating are all higher than a year ago. And there’s reason to believe that more improvement is likely in 2012…

…It turns out that on average, NFL quarterbacks see the biggest efficiency improvements before their second and fourth seasons.  Sanchez certainly saw improvement between Season 1 and Season 2. That Season 4 improvement is not a guarantee — Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco are prime examples this year — but it’s still a good reason to give Sanchez one more season before kicking him to the curb.

Take a look specifically at two of these quarterbacks who were particularly similar to Sanchez in the third season in that span:

Player Year Team Age Comp Att PassYD TD INT COMP% Yd/At Yd/C
Mark Sanchez 2011* NYJ 25 300 530 3700 25 16 56.7% 6.98 12.31
John Elway 1986 DEN 26 280 504 3485 19 13 55.6% 6.91 12.45
Tom Brady 2003 NE 26 317 528 3620 23 12 60.0% 6.86 11.42

So….nobody here is saying that Sanchez will be the next Elway or Brady.  But there’s reason to believe and hope he can still be something very good, if not great.  I believe.

Tonight’s prediction:

Jets: 27
Broncos:10
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