Mark Sanchez: How Good Is He?

August 10th, 2011

Mark Sanchez walks the green carpet at the Maxim Party Powered by Motorola Xoom at the Centennial Hall at Fair Park, in Dallas, TX.

Mark Sanchez is a bit of a controversial figure among NFL fans. Some feel that he is merely a product of an obscenely good defensive situation, and in reality he is an average to bad quarterback. Others feel that Sanchez could eventually peak as a top 10 passer in the NFL.

As in any discussion, it is an intriguing perspective to consult statistics and see what they can tell us. Let’s take a look.

Sanchez often gets roundly criticized for being a “below-average” NFL quarterback. However, according to the statistical mavens at Football Outsiders, last season he was simply in the middle of the pack. He accounted for 438 Defense-Adjusted Yards Above Replacement, good for 18th in the NFL. He had a relatively tough slate of defense to compete against, and those actually bumped up his numbers a bit.

Sanchez may not have been superb, but he was certainly good enough to be an above-average quarterback despite a difficult schedule.

Sanchez is also much-maligned for his seemingly pedestrian 54.8% completion rate. However, he did not get a great deal of help from his receivers last year. They dropped 38 passes, the fourth most by any unit in the NFL. Had no drops transpired, Sanchez’s completion percentage would jump 7.5 percentage points to 62.3%, good for 14th best in the NFL.

Even if the drops were halved instead of eliminated completely, his completion percentage would leap to 58.3%. He is a bit more accurate than some of his detractors give him credit for, as is empirically clear in the statistics.

Sanchez’s massive improvement from Year 1 to Year 2 also has to be considered in his evaluation. As a rookie, he actually cost his team 266 yards. That’s right, Sanchez had a negative DYAR. However, as a sophomore, Sanchez improved by a massive 704 yards. That’s 153.1 percent better than his freshman campaign.

One cannot expect Sanchez to improve continually at this pace, but, at the very least, he has shown that he has the potential to make another leap.

Overall, Sanchez is probably a middle of the pack quarterback. That may be all the Jets need to contend for the Super Bowl this year. Sanchez is still very much a work in progress, but there is a lot of upside and, despite the loud voices of contrarians, a bit of evidence that he could reach his lofty potential and become an elite, Super Bowl winning quarterback.

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