History Looks Favorably On Mark Sanchez’s Development

A look at recent Super Bowl MVP quarterbacks early in their career, paints a promising picture for Mark Sanchez’s future

The acquisition of Tim Tebow by the New York Jets has led many to question the amount of faith the organization has in starting quarterback Mark Sanchez. Many fans and league analysts have come out and publicly stated that they do not feel as though Sanchez is the right quarterback for this team now or in the future. Some have even said that Tebow chose to come to the Jets because he believes he can take over as the starting quarterback at some point during the season. However, anyone who feels this way has clearly not taken the time to look at the facts.

There are no excuses to make for Sanchez and his inconsistent play in the final three weeks of the season last year. But those three weeks should not define Sanchez’s career thus for, nor should they write his future. If history tells us anything, it is that most, if not all, elite NFL quarterbacks take time to develop to that level. In observing Sanchez’s numbers through his first three seasons in comparison with the three previous Super Bowl winning quarterbacks in their first three years in the league, it is obvious that this kid has not only over achieved for his age, but more than likely has a future destined for greatness as well.

First, let’s look at games started. In his first three seasons with the Jets, Sanchez has started 47 out of 48 games (Remember, he missed the Tampa Bay game in 2009 after injuring his knee against the Bills in Toronto). Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, and Eli Manning started 28, 0, and 41 games, respectively. Now, it is hard to argue any numbers Rodgers had in his first three seasons due to the fact that he was sitting behind one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time in Brett Favre. However, this also means that Rodgers had ample time to learn, and his growing pains came about on the practice field, rather than under the spotlight of New York as Sanchez’s have. That being said, Rodgers’ and Sanchez’s numbers in the first three years of their careers cannot be compared because there is not a high enough sample of Rodgers’ production during that time.

So let’s focus on Brees and Manning. In Brees’ first three seasons, he completed 540 of his 909 pass attempts for a completion percentage of 59.4. During that span, he threw for 5,613 yards, 29 touchdowns and 31 interceptions. He also rushed for 1 touchdown over those three years. Other than an inflated completion percentage due to only 27 attempts in his rookie season, Brees’ numbers in his first three years show he was anything but a franchise quarterback. Even his own team didn’t believe he was the future, and selected Eli Manning with the first overall pick in the 2004 draft, before trading him to the Giants for Phillip Rivers. However, unlike with Sanchez, no one really seemed too concerned with how Brees’ feelings would be affected. Brees went on to have two breakout seasons in 2004 and 2005 before the Chargers let him walk as a free agent and sign with the Saints in 2006. We all know the rest.

Similarly, Eli Manning’s first three seasons were anything but extraordinary. The incumbent Super Bowl MVP completed 690 of 1,276 passes, while accumulating a 54.0 completion percentage, 8,049 yards, and 54 touchdowns. Manning also threw 44 interceptions during those three years. Again, not exactly numbers that scream elite NFL quarterback, and anyone that lives in New York knows that the majority of fans and writers alike were calling for Peyton’s little brother to be shipped out of town. So, how did Manning respond? By coming out the next season and pulling off the greatest upset in Super Bowl history. Now he is the Giants’ Golden Boy.

Finally, on to the Sanchise. In Sanchez’s first three seasons, he has completed 782 of his 1,414 pass attempts for a completion percentage of 55.3, more than a full point higher than Manning’s, and very close to Brees’s inflated 59.4. Sanchez has also thrown for 9,209 yards, 55 touchdowns, and 51 interceptions. Although his turnover rate is higher than the other two quarterbacks, his yards and touchdowns are higher as well. He’s also rushed for 12 touchdowns throughout those three seasons. In that same time frame, Sanchez has won four of six playoff games on the road, while neither Brees nor Manning could win one between the two of them.

So here we sit at this awkward point in Sanchez’s career. This is the point where Sanchez has done enough to win over the coherent fans, but has made one too many young mistakes to force the media and fair weather fans to call for his head. Whether people realize it or not, this happens everywhere. Brees was run out of town, and Manning was at the cusp of getting his pink slip as well. The non-believers in these two, now elite, NFL quarterbacks looked plenty foolish while Manning and Brees were busy breaking NFL records and winning Super Bowl rings.

So is Sanchez next? Although no one can predict the future, if history tells us anything, it is that most quarterbacks in this league need time to grow and develop. Sanchez’s early success makes him an easy target anytime he struggles the slightest bit. However, just remember that he is not the only one who faced downtimes early in his career. The best of them have and were able to overcome it, while coming out on top, laughing at their critics.

Welcome to the NFL, Rookie: Jets vs. Saints Instant Reaction

Well, I guess we aren’t going undefeated. You can’t win in the NFL when you turn the football over and the Jets let a great performance by their defense go to waste today. There are inevitable negatives when you start a rookie quarterback and today we were reminded firsthand that the Jets are going to lose some games this season because of Mark Sanchez’s inexperience. Yet, step back from the cliff Jets fans there is still plenty to feel good about for the 2009 season.

Sanchez, Offense Let-Down…The Jets defense held the Saints to 10 points today, forced Reggie Bush to fumble which set up the Jets only touchdown, held Drew Brees to under 200 yards of passing and a QB rating of 78.9…that should have been enough for a victory today. Unfortunately, Sanchez didn’t give the Jets a chance by directly handing the Saints 14 points. On his first interception, he locked on to Dustin Keller and turned a Jets red-zone opportunity into a 99 yard Saints touchdown. On his fumble, Sanchez needs to have the mental clock in his head go off and he has to get rid of the football. I also wasn’t crazy about Brian Schottenheimer throwing the ball twice on 3rd and 1 and then finally deciding to run on 3rd and 2 in the Jets goal-line personnel group. Regardless, the Jets still aren’t running the ball very well. Shonn Greene looked very good off the bench with 4 carries for 23 yards but then left with an injury. Why can’t this guy stay healthy? Chansi Stuckey has also pulled a disappearing act for the second week in a row.

Defense Is Real Deal…I already mentioned their impressive stats and they also stepped up with a goal-line stand and a stop on 4th and inches. This team is absolutely legit on the defensive side of the football. Darrelle Revis had another great game and David Harris was all over the field with 12 tackles. They received no help from the offense and still kept the Jets in the game until late into the fourth quarter.

At Least Feel Good About…the next 4 games on the Jets schedule – Miami (1-3), Buffalo (1-3), Oakland (1-3), Miami (1-3) and then a bye week…Calvin Pace is back this week…the Jets will receive less national attention now as a contender and most people will jump off their bandwagon as a contender allowing them to go about their business and deal with a little less pressure…we will get to see how Mark Sanchez responds to a bad performance on national television…at least he got this type of performance out of his system early in the season.

Jets vs. Saints: Prediction, TOJ TV Episode IV

First a few updates:

1. Don’t expect to see either Lito Sheppard or Donald Strickland on the field this Sunday. Hopefully, like Calvin Pace they will be rejoining the defense next Monday night in Miami.

2. Some interesting quotes about Vernon Gholston by defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, “The plays that he’s gotten, especially when he got in more in the last game, he’s graded out well. Vernon’s not a guy that you’re going to see a lot of flash from, but he’s strong…If you go back and look at some of the quarterback pressures we got, a lot of them happened because Vernon kind of collapsed that side of the defense and had taken up two blockers and the running back and the quarterback. Vernon has really taken it upon himself to get better and he’s really done it out in practice…It showed in the game. He made some really nice plays.” Usually you think of a flashy guy when you spend the #6 overall pick in the draft on him, unless he is an offensive lineman. However, at least Gholston is moving towards being a solid all-around contributor for this defense.

Jets vs. Saints: Prediction, TOJ TV Episode IV

Check out the recap of the week three, along with a prediction for  Jets/Saints and plenty more…including our first  Jets themed commercial. Great job by our editor James Corbett this week, who is really helping take the show to another level.

The Song: Drake – I’m Still Fly

Jets vs. Saints: Game Breakdown

First a few updates:

1. The only Jets who didn’t practice today were Lito Sheppard and Donald Strickland. Ryan didn’t sound too optimistic about either of them playing, especially Strickland. It definitely isn’t a good week to be without your #2 and #3 corners but Dwight Lowery and Drew Coleman have showed they are capable replacements off the bench.

2. Make sure you check out episode IV of Turn On the Jets TV tomorrow, Corbett (my editor) and myself will in the studio (our apartment) filming a recap on week 3 and a prediction for Jets/Saints, along with a few other things for your entertainment.

3. Congratulations to Mark Sanchez for winning the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month award. It is the first time a Jets player has ever won that award. Sanchez has 606 yards passing with 4 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.

4. It will be good to see the Jets back in their normal green and white jerseys this week.

5. Just a reminder that after this game, the Jets get outside linebacker Calvin Pace back (80 tackles, 7 sacks, 5 forced fumbles in 2008).

6. The Jets are 6.5 point underdogs this week…no respect.

Jets vs. Saints: Game Breakdown

Jets Offensive Game Plan: It has been tough sledding for the Jets running game so far this season but this is the game they need to break out of their funk. On the road, in the deafening Superdome, against the league’s best offense you need to establish a strong running game to keep Drew Brees and co. off the field and not put too much pressure on your rookie quarterback. Thomas Jones and Leon Washington need their combined 40 touches and they need to make the most out of them. Leon is way overdue to rip off a big play on offense and Jones needs to get back above 4 yards a carry to start moving the chains again. If Jones starts off slow, don’t be surprised to see rookie Shonn Greene get a few carries. The better the Jets run the football, the better Mark Sanchez will play and the better chance the Jets will have to win this game.

When the Jets do need to pass, Sanchez must do a better job of protecting the football than he did last week. The Jets offense can’t let New Orleans get a short field because of a turnover or give them any points to make the defense’s task harder than it already is. Outside of his touchdown grab against New England, Dustin Keller has been very quiet the past two weeks and the Jets need to get him involved in their passing attack. Jerricho Cotchery needs to keep it going as the go to receiver, and Chansi Stuckey needs to bounce back after only having 11 yards receiving last week. Let’s see if this is the game that David Clowney can get a ball thrown his way, since he is coming off a couple of strong weeks in practice as a response to his deactivation against the Titans. I would like to see the Jets run another play out of their “Seminole” package beyond Leon Washington just faking the reverse to Brad Smith and keeping it. They tried a throwback to Sanchez last week but it got called back on a holding penalty.

Jets Defensive Game Plan: The Jets banged up secondary will have a difficult task against Drew Brees and co. this week. Darrelle Revis will likely be locked up Marques Colston and should be able to handle him. However, that will leave speedster Devery Henderson on Dwight Lowery, who has struggled with faster receivers in the past and been beaten deep on occasion. Don’t be surprised if the Jets give Lowery some help over the top. Expect to see Eric Smith either shadowing Jeremy Shockey or Reggie Bush out of the backfield. It will be interesting to see how often the Saints go to their running game with Pierre Thomas or Bush against the Jets front seven. I have confidence in the Jets ability to contain the run but they must continue to be aggressive their pass rush to help out their secondary this week.

New Orleans won’t drop as many passes as the Titans did and they have more players on the outside who can make you play for a blown coverage. This game is a golden opportunity for the Jets defense to make a statement that they are the league’s best. If they can go into New Orleans and keep Drew Brees in check, how are you going to say another unit has been better than them through four weeks?

Hopefully, the Jets can jump out to an early lead which will force the Saints to rely even more on the passing game than they already do, allowing the Jets to get some hits on Brees and force him into a few turnovers. This is Vernon Gholston’s last game as a starter, so far he only has 6 tackles and 1 TFL. There isn’t a better time for him to get his first NFL sack than this week.

Special Teams Breakdown: Leon Washington almost broke a few against New England, let’s see if can rip off a huge kick return against the Saints suspect coverage unit on the fast track at the Superdome. Reggie Bush is always dangerous on punt returns, but guys like Wallace Wright, Jason Trusnik, and Eric Smith have been excellent in coverage this season.

The Jets Will Win If…They establish a strong running game and get Thomas and Leon their combined 40 touches. Mark Sanchez doesn’t have any turnovers and hits a few big plays down the field to keep the Saints defense honest. The Jets defense gets to Drew Brees early and often, forcing him into a few bad decisions. Darrelle Revis continues to prove why he is the best corner in football, by locking down Marques Colston.

The Jets Will Lose If…Mark Sanchez plays like a rookie and struggles with the crowd noise, along with the Saints opportunistic defense. Dwight Lowery gets torched by Devery Henderson for a big play. Reggie Bush rips off a long run after a catch out of the backfield to get some revenge on Bart Scott. Drew Brees isn’t pressured in the pocket and carves up the Jets banged up secondary.

A Memorable Moment in Jets/Saints History

NFL Week 3 Recap/Jets vs. Saints First Look

First a few updates:

1. The Jets have now moved up to #6 in ESPN’s Power Rankings, one spot behind this week’s opponent, the New Orleans Saints.

2. The status of Lito Sheppard and Donald Strickland remains up in the air for this weekend. I get the impression that Sheppard is further along than Strickland. It would be a huge boost to have at least one of them back against the Saints lethal passing attack. I am guessing the Jets aren’t going to sign a free agent corner like Corey Ivy, since they probably would have made the move already to have him in as early as possible to study the game-plan for New Orleans.

3. Rex Ryan admitted David Clowney was inactive for the Titans game because of some comments he made on Twitter about being disappointed with his lack of playing time. Clowney responded with a strong week in practice as a look squad receiver. Hopefully, this will be the type of thing that motivates Clowney for the rest of the season and he will eventually find a role in the offense.

Wrapping Up Jets/Titans

Defensive Player of the Game: Eric Smith – I never thought I’d be typing Smith’s name in this category but the fourth year safety has found a home in Rex Ryan’s scheme as a do everything defensive back. Smith has been used to shadow specific tight ends and running backs, along with frequently being sent at the quarterback as a blitzer. In the Tennessee game, Smith had 6 tackles, 2 passes defensed, and an interception. He is currently third on the team in tackles, despite not being a starter.

Offensive Player of the Game: Jerricho Cotchery – For the second week in a row, I am giving this award to Cotchery who carried the Jets passing attack with 8 catches for 108 yards and a touchdown. Right now, Cotchery is on pace to be a 1500 yard receiver and is proving all the critics wrong who thought he didn’t have the skill set to be a number one receiver.

Honorable Mentions: Drew Coleman for stepping in and playing a great game as the team’s nickel back…Kris Jenkins for continuing to dominate up front…David Harris for racking up another sack and his first interception of the season…Bart Scott for having his best game so far this season…Jim Leonhard for ripping off a big 36 yard punt return…Shaun Ellis for quickly getting Leonhard’s back when he was cheap shotted by one of the Titans lineman.

AFC East Observations

New England Patriots – The Patriots had a nice bounce back win against the Falcons at home. Their offense was led by a strong game from Fred Taylor, while Tom Brady continued to be somewhat out of sync. There was some horrible officiating in this game, that of course benefited the Patriots. I am very interested to see how New England handles the Ravens, who are considered by most to be the best team in the NFL, this upcoming Sunday.

Miami Dolphins – I feel terrible for Chad Pennington who suffered another season ending injury to his shoulder. However, I will enjoy watching the Dolphins suffer the rest of the season to a 4-12 record. Isn’t it funny how Jason Taylor left because they were 1-15, they went 11-5 without him, and now he comes back and they are going to be right back among of the NFL’s worst? haha. I am really hoping the Bills handle the Dolphins this weekend, so we could send Jason, Channing “The Jets are paper champs” Crowder and the rest of Miami to a 0-5 record.

Buffalo Bills – The Bills played the Saints tough for three quarters but fell apart in the fourth. I don’t like TO, but it is ridiculous how bad of a job Buffalo’s offense is doing getting the ball to him and Lee Evans. Regardless, Buffalo has the look of a team that could be around .500 this year.

TOJ Top 5

  1. Baltimore Ravens – Their offense continues to develop to compliment their already elite defense. I am hoping they put a beatdown on New England this week.
  2. New York Giants – Very business like victory over the hapless Bucs. They are an extremely well rounded team.
  3. Indianapolis Colts – Peyton Manning is in the zone right now, but then again I guess he always is.
  4. New York Jets – They have a chance to make a statement with a win in New Orleans this week.
  5. New Orleans Saints – First big test comes for them against the Jets defense.

TOJ Bottom 5

  1. Detroit Lions – Not in the bottom spot, which is progress for them.
  2. Washington Redskins – Their offense is a-w-f-u-l.
  3. Kansas City Chiefs – It is going to be an ugly re-building process.
  4. St. Louis Rams – Another historically bad year is on the way for the Rams.
  5. Cleveland Browns – The situation is getting real ugly for Eric Mangini.

Jets vs. Saints First Look

The Opponent: The Saints come in at 3-0 with the league’s best offense. After scoring 45 and 48 points the first two weeks, they were held to “only” 27 points last week against Buffalo. Drew Brees leads the Saints attack by spreading the ball around to a variety of receivers in the passing game, while New Orleans rushing attack has been coming on lately led by Pierre Thomas and Mike Bell. The Saints defense is coming off a strong effort against Buffalo and is generally considered to have improved from last year. Former Jets rookie of the year, Jonathan Vilma leads the unit at middle linebacker.

New Orleans Starters/Key Reserves

OFFENSE

  • Quarterback: Drew Brees – 67/97, 841 yards, 9 TD’s, 2 INT’s
  • Running Back: Mike Bell – 45 carries, 229 yards, 1 TD
  • Running Back: Pierre Thomas – 14 carries, 126 yards, 2 TD’s
  • Running Back: Reggie Bush – 30 carries, 111 yards, 1 TD, 11 receptions, 114 yards
  • Fullback: Heath Evans – 6 receptions, 51 yards, 2 TD’s
  • Wide Receiver: Marques Colston – 15 receptions, 195 yards, 3 TD’s
  • Wide Receiver: Robert Meachem – 3 receptions, 62 yards,  1 TD
  • Wide Receiver: Devery Henderson – 11 receptions, 214 yards, 1 TD
  • Tight End: Jeremy Shockey – 14 receptions, 128 yards, 2 TD’s
  • Left Tackle: Jammal Brown
  • Left Guard: Carl Nicks
  • Center: Jonathan Goodwin
  • Right Guard: Jahri Evans
  • Right Tackle: Jonathan Stinchcomb

DEFENSE

  • Defensive End: Charles Grant – 5 tackles, 1.5 sacks
  • Defensive Tackle: Sedrick Ellis – 10 tackles, 1 sack
  • Defensive Tackle: Kendrick Clancy – 1 tackle
  • Defensive End: Will Smith – 9 tackles, 1 sack
  • Outside Linebacker: Scott Shanle – 22 tackles, 2 INT’s
  • Middle Linebacker: Jonathan Vilma – 16 tackles, 1 sack
  • Outside Linebacker: Scott Fujita – 17 tackles
  • Corner: Jabari Greer – 15 tackles, 3 passes defensed
  • Corer: Tracy Porter – 10 tackles, 1 INT
  • Safety: Roman Harper – 23 tackles, 3 TFL’s
  • Safety: Darren Sharper – 6 tackles, 3 INT’s

SPECIAL TEAMS

  • Kicker: John Carney
  • Punter: Thomas Morstead
  • Punt Returner: Reggie Bush
  • Kick Returner: Courtney Roby

Key Players: Drew Brees is one of the league’s best quarterbacks and can carve any defense up if given enough time in the pocket. Marques Colston is his favorite target, especially near the end-zone. Jeremy Shockey is becoming more of a factor. Devery Henderson is a legit deep threat. On defense, Darren Sharper and Roman Harper have been playmakers for the Saints. Will Smith and Charles Grant are quality defensive ends, who can apply pressure and Jonathan Vilma and Scott Shanle are solid linebackers.

Injuries: Mike Bell isn’t likely to play at running back and either is Jammal Brown on the offensive line. For the Jets, Lito Sheppard and Donald Strickland remain question marks for this Sunday. Beyond that, the Jets appear to be healthy.

Early Story Lines: Battle of an undefeated teams…Top defense versus top offense…Jonathan Vilma against his former team…Jets attempt to get their running game going.

Saints/Bill Highlights

AFC Power Rankings: Where Do the Jets Fit?

First a few updates:

1. It’s officially training camp week, with the Jets opening up this Friday in Cortland, New York. Later in the day, I will be posting an extended, comprehensive (two big time adjectives there) training camp preview. Also, I will finish up my positional analysis this week, with a look at the team’s linebackers and special teams. You can look back through the archives for my breakdown of all the other positions on the roster.

2. I will be appearing on a podcast on our site tomorrow around 11:30 to discuss the Jets, the link is http://ownersedge.fanball.com/fantasy_buffet.php

3. By the end of the week, I plan on making additions to both the TOJ Hall of Fame and TOJ Hall of Shame…thrilling stuff for everybody, I know. Also, I am stuck with the 5th pick in upcoming fantasy football draft and I am open to suggestions on who I should pick…Brees, Fitzgerald, Jones-Drew, Westbrook, Brad Smith, Wallace Wright?

AFC Power Rankings: Where Do the Jets Fit?

I don’t like to rank teams from 1-16, but instead separate them into different levels. With training camps starting up this week, here is how I see the AFC breaking down:

The Favorites

Pittsburgh Steelers – The defending champions are returning all of their major parts and should be right back at the top of the AFC North. Their defense should be one of the league’s best and if they can get something out of Rashad Mendenhall and Limas Sweed this year, their offense could be even more dynamic.

New England Patriots – They have the best coach in the NFL, a good defense, and potentially the best offense in football if Tom Brady is back at 100 percent. If the Jets want to win the AFC East, the road goes through New England (sorry Dolphins fans).

Indianapolis Colts – They were playing as well as anyone in football last year before getting bounced in the wild-card round to the Chargers. Even without Tony Dungy, they still have a quality defense and tons of weapons on offense, including first round pick Donald Brown, who should flourish in their system.

San Diego Chargers – They have as much talent as anyone in football, but can they put it together? Fortunately for them, the AFC West is a weak division and they shouldn’t have any trouble repeating as champs.

The Contenders

Baltimore Ravens – A great defense, a young quarterback who is only going to get better, and a dominant running game should equal another double-digit win total for the Ravens.

Tennessee Titans – I think they will take a big step down from last year’s win total. They sure didn’t feel like a 13-3 team last year, but maybe that’s just because I watched the Jets embarrass them in their home building. They got a shot for revenge in the Meadowlands in week 3, though.

Question Marks

Miami Dolphins – They have 6-10 written all over them this season and I’m not saying that as a biased Jets fan. The Wildcat won’t fool anybody this year and Chad Pennington has never put together two healthy, productive seasons in a row. Yet, they have a good defense and running game which will keep them competitive.

Buffalo Bills – There is a ton of talent at the skill positions but can Trent Edwards stay healthy and take his game to the next level? Can Dick Jauron get out of his own way?

New York Jets – I expect a great defense and a great running game but there is still question marks at quarterback, receiver, tight end, and depth on both lines.

Houston Texans – Every year everybody picks them to make a big jump but it never seems to happen. If Matt Schaub can stay healthy, their offense will be scary good with Steve Slaton and Andre Johnson making plays but they still have question marks on defense, as usual. The Texans will be a good test for the Jets in week one.

Bigger Question Marks

Denver Broncos – You don’t improve from 8-8 by going from Jay Cutler to Kyle Orton at quarterback.

Jacksonville Jaguars – Torry Holt will help them on offense, but unless David Garrard goes back to his 2007 form, the Jaguars aren’t going to be any better than they were last season.

The Basement Dwellers

Oakland Raiders – There is obviously talent on offense and some pieces on defense, but hasn’t that been the case on Oakland for the past few years? I’m sure they will go 5-11 but still find a way to beat the Jets.

Kansas City Chiefs – Matt Cassell isn’t going to look so good without Randy Moss, Wes Welker, and one of the best offensive lines in football.

Cincinnatti Bengals – If Carson Palmer can play a full 16 games, they could improve a few games from last season but that would only put them in the 6-7 win range.

Cleveland Browns – Have fun Eric Mangini, but hey they said the same thing about your Jets in 2006 and look what happened.

Jets Highlight of the Day: After spending another weekend of arguing with my friend’s about Leon Washington’s talent level, I decided to throw up some of his highlights, Give 29 a new contract: