1) The Jets win in spite of him!
False. In the last four games – two to get into the playoffs, and the two playoff games – Sanchez is completing 60 percent of his passes. He has thrown two TDs and one pick. He hasn’t fumbled. He’s basically playing error-free football. The Jets are winning because the defense has been phenomenal, the offensive line has paved the way for the running game, Sanchez has brilliantly managed the second half of both playoff games, and the Bengals and Chargers combined to go 0-for-5 on field goals. The Jets didn’t win any games this season in which Sanchez was terrible (Saints, Bills, Patriots). For the “in spite of” statement to be factually correct, the Jets defense would have had to hold a lead late against Jacksonville or Atlanta.
2) If you only throw for 100 yards in a playoff game …
Meaningless. The Jets aren’t asking their rookie QB to throw 25-30 times per game. All they’re asking is for him not to make mistakes, convert a few third downs, and put them in position to win the game. He’s done that in both playoff games. There’s a reason he’s only the 4th rookie QB since 1950 to start and win a playoff game: rookies are mistake-prone. If Sanchez has to put the ball up 30 times Sunday, the Jets will almost certainly lose.
3) His passer rating – 63 – is so bad!
Take a gander some historical “passer rating” numbers. Chad Pennington is 6th all-time. Eli Manning is 70th. John Elway (79.9) and Byron Leftwich (79.6) are virtually equal in the passer rating department. Read into that what you will.
It’s stats like this that prompted the Football Outsiders to compare the rookie season of Mark Sanchez to the rookie season of JaMarcus Russell. Statistically, the seasons are similar in completions, attempts, yards, and yards-per-attempt. Russell bested Sanchez in TD passes! And passer rating! This must mean … absolutely nothing.
(Guess which QB set a few rookie passing records? Rick Mirer in 1993 with the Seahawks. He was never heard from again.)
Of course the Football Outsiders left out two relevant points in the Russell-Sanchez comparison: Russell was a 2+year starter at LSU (Sanchez had one year at USC), and Russell rode the Oakland bench for a year before mopping up for four games in his first year in the pros.
Conclusion: The intense dislike for Sanchez has more to do with a) the fact he went to USC, which was the most insufferable college football program of the 00′s; b) this GQ spread, c) the fact that he’s on the scene and dating models, and d) the nickname “San-chize” that was bestowed on a rookie quarterback after the 3-0 start (why people would waste time hating someone because of their nickname is mind-boggling, but we digress).*
Of course, you know where this is headed: The Colts will race out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter Sunday, and Sanchez will be forced to rally the Jets. What are the chances a rookie on the road in the AFC title game pulls that off? 0.0.
Baltimore’s Joe Flacco threw three picks in the AFC title game last year against Pittsburgh.
Atlanta’s Matt Ryan turned the ball over three times (fumble, two picks) at Arizona in a Wild Card game last year.
Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger threw five interceptions in the postseason as a rookie (two games).
* We could have tossed in the hot dog eating incident, but everyone agrees that was funny.