Sunday, August 1, 2010

Rookie Playoff Quarterbacks And Mark Sanchez' Place

Something happened on Mark Sanchez' way to a pretty disappointing rookie season. The Playoffs.

Yeah, I know, Mark Sanchez was named NFL rookie of the week for 16 straight weeks or something. It was a farce. A facade.

I looked into Sanchez playoff record relative to other rookie quarterbacks a couple of weeks ago - which I will get to momentarily - but decided to wait for Football Outsiders' Almanac before posting about it, since I thought there was a reasonable chance they would have addressed it. They didn't so I will.

I bring this up though, because I am glad I waited. FO published the most comparable rookie quarterbacks to Sanchez. It isn't a flattering list. While some of the players later on the list turned out to be great quarterbacks, including Aikman and Elway (neither of whom had good rookie years) his closest comparables had short and unimpressive careers, topped by Jamarcus Russell.

Make no mistake, Sanchez was awful in the regular season, and his awfulness was a bit masked by the otherwise outstanding team that was assembled around him. The Jets had the fewest passing attempts in the league, and not the fewest by a little but the fewest by a lot. New York attempted 391 passes, the second fewest came from Buffalo with 441. The league median was around 540. So with 150 fewer attempts than over half the league (that's 9 per game, boys and girls) one would think that defenses would be keying the run, that his looks would be good. But even with that huge advantage, Sanchez was one of the worst quarterbacks in the league, and his awfulness very nearly sabotaged the Jets playoff run.

But he did get to the playoffs and somehow this ugly old worm transformed itself into a beautiful butterfly.

San Diego12231001160.1

That 93 rating would have put him 13th overall for the 2009 season, slightly behind Kurt Warner, Eli Manning and Donovan McNabb. More impressively though, he did it under the bright lights of the playoffs against teams that finished 7th, 17th and 12th in pass defense.

There haven't been many teams recently who made the playoffs with a rookie quarterback but it is still interesting to compare with those that did. In fact this is the whole point of this thing.

Going back to 1983 only 5 teams have made the playoffs with rookie quarterbacks, 4 of them this decade and Dan Marino.

Joe Flacco333754371350.8
Matt Ryan126401992272.8
Ben Roethlisberger231544073561.3
Dan Marino115251932277.6

So what do we make of this? It's hard to say for sure, except that Sanchez' performance in the playoffs was historically great, certainly the greatest post season in the last 30 years. Add in that regardless of how he got there, he is among excellent company. Anyone watching the AFC Championship could tell that this was no fluke either, with Sanchez poised and confident.

Quarterbacks either get it or they don't. They can either make plays or they can't. While it would be unprecedented for Sanchez to advance from the season he had to a place among the league elite in one year, it does appear that the playoffs were his 'Drew Brees' moment. The lights came on, the game slowed down, he got it.

FO doesn't expect great things from this year's Jet team, and they are probably right. The one thing they appeared to underestimate though is the progression of any rookie quarterback from his first to his second season. They always improve. Often that improvement is incremental and doesn't mean much in the big picture, but with that playoff run in his pocket we should have every expectation that Sanchez will no longer be a liability, and that his performance gain should offset losses elsewhere.


Post a Comment

About This Blog

Twitter: oblong_spheroid

  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP