Friday, September 30, 2011

Mark Sanchez Gets Far Too Much Credit For Success of New York Jets

Prior to the 2011 NFL season, I made the statement that Mark Sanchez really needed to step up this year for the New York Jets.  The guy is the face of a winning football franchise in the country's biggest football market, but he has yet to deserve the adulation.  It bugs me when this guy is on several national football commercials when there are many more guys in the league who deserve it more.

Let me state for the record that I do not wish for Sanchez to fail.  I simply want him to live up to the expectations the team have of him.  He's had some good games in the playoffs, yes, but his atrocious play in the regular season is a major reason why the Jets have had the Wild Card instead of a top seed the past two years.

QBR Rating Shows Sanchez Is Less Than Average 

ESPN's new Total QBR, a statistic designed to take into account everything a quarterback does for his team (passing, running, scoring, etc) and turn it into a number that is more representative of his contributions than the usual QB rating has been.

A Total QBR of 50 (on a scale of 0-100) is considered average.  As an example, Tom Brady's amazing season so far has resulted in a Total QBR of 89.7.  That's the top spot.

Matt Ryan, who has clearly been struggling but has been able to bring his team back in the fourth quarter of the Eagles game to win, has a Total QBR of 45.8.  That's 19th out of 32 NFL starting quarterbacks.

Mark Sanchez, with the Jets at 2-1, has a Total QBR of 31.6. Good enough for the #28 spot.

What is Sanchez Not Doing?

Let's look at his stats for the year so far:

  • 62.5% completions (nice improvement from his career average of 54% before this year)
  • Averaging 295 yards/game (very nice)
  • 6 TDS vs 4 INTs (career-wise he's 35 TDs vs 37 INTs)
  • Yards per attempt: 7.91 (12th in the league)
As far as stats go, Sanchez is having his best year yet and would seem to be playing well.  However, stats don't tell the whole story.

Now, to understand how QBR works, the basics are that a quarterback must actually be truly responsible for the good stuff that the team does.  If he scrambles and runs for a first down in the fourth quarter when his team really needs it, it counts more than if he does a quarterback sneak in the second quarter to simply try to run out the clock at halftime.

Also, if the QB throws a screen pass that the receiver turns into a 70-yard touchdown, the quarterback receives far less credit for that (as he should) than if he had thrown the ball 40 yards in the air.

What the QBR is stating is that Sanchez has had little effect on his team's 2-1 record.

The Media's Rush To Crown Sanchez

Sanchez, by all accounts, is a nice guy and tries hard to be a leader.  He's good-looking, articulate, and enjoys the spotlight.  The media (especially the local New York media) have been quick to crown him as some type of savior franchise ("Sanchise") quarterback because he played well in a few playoff games last year.

In fact, here's a quote from an ESPN New York article about the Jets upcoming game against the Baltimore Ravens:
In other words, he needs to play one of those beyond-his-years games, because the Jets -- no longer a punch-em-in-the-mouth offense -- need some vintage Sanchez to upset the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium.
Vintage Sanchez is actually someone you don't want.  The guy who ranks in the bottom third of the league in every major statistical category.  What you really want is Sanchez 2.0.  Not the guy who was, in reality, playing his second and third year as a college starter on the New York Jets.

Usually, NFL starting quarterbacks who play as badly as Sanchez did in his first two years aren't still starting their third year.  Sanchez is the exception because the Jets still win, he's the high-drafted franchise qb, and everyone wants him to succeed.

I want him to succeed, too.  However, I'd like to wait until he truly does before he gets another national tv commercial.

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