Mark Sanchez has been, by many indicators, the worst full-time starting quarterback in the NFL this season. That sounds like a shock-value statement -- good for New York radio, garish in football reality -- but it's not. The numbers and tape are piled up.
I have defended Sanchez often -- he lacks weapons, creative play calling, a run game and experience -- but as his career sample size grows, it's just defending a QB based on historical standards, not based on the current NFL. While Sanchez has a career completion percentage (54.7) similar to Phil Simms (55.4), in the modern NFL, with every advantage systemically built to favor passers, the Jets' QB is well below average.
The culprit is a lack of accuracy, a trait that hasn't improved. Completion percentage should be considered a superficial stat, football's version of the RBI, something dependent on too many other factors. And Sanchez has never achieved a mark that is in the top half of qualifying passers. This year, he's last in the NFL at 52.0 percent. But his quarterback accuracy percentage -- a ProFootballFocus stat which factors in drops, throwaways, spikes and batted passes, and quantifies pure throwing accuracy -- is a disaster. Sanchez has been last or second to last in the NFL in each of his four seasons. He was dead last as a rookie, and in 2009 and 2010, only Derek Anderson and Blaine Gabbert were lower, respectively. This year, he's again dead last.
The big issue is that this mitigates the perception that a lack of weapons is the problem. Even great surrounding talent matters little if you can't deliver the ball on or near frame consistently. Sanchez is accurate with passes this season (64.1 percent accuracy percentage) at a lower rate than 11 QBs are completing them.
There are other problems: Sanchez completes passes of less than 10 yards at 55.8 percent -- no other NFL passer is below 60 percent. Against five or more rushers, he completes passes at just 48.7 percent according to ESPN Stats & Info, also an NFL-worst. Overall, he has the worst completion percentage of any QB through Week 10 since 2005. And what the Jets' decision-makers must understand is that this isn't new. A couple of playoff runs and some clutch performances viewed through the prism of his youth mask the reality that while Sanchez has struggled mightily in 2012, he's performed similarly in previous years. What he's had is a Jets defense that has been among the NFL's best in each season he's been in the league, starting with a brilliant defense during his rookie year.
Nick Laham/Getty Images
Mark Sanchez' passing accuracy -- or lack thereof -- is a major problem.
That defense has dipped slightly in 2012, and Sanchez has been completely exposed.
This doesn't mean the Jets should bench Sanchez now. It doesn't mean they should start Tim Tebow, who last year was as inaccurate as any passer since Akili Smith in 2000. What it does mean is that the Jets must go into the offseason willing to consider bringing in a QB who can legitimately upgrade their passing attack, or at least force Sanchez to reach a level he hasn't yet attained. And think about it: If you had a position where you could say, "This is the worst anyone is playing at this position in the NFL," you'd demand a change, or at least legit competition. Why not at the most important position? For a franchise that has, in a five-year period, brought in both Brett Favre and Tim Tebow, the idea would be one of the most salient options the team has considered.
Here are 10 QB moves for the Jets to consider.
Pursue a trade for Matt Flynn
Consider how the Seattle Seahawks have viewed their QB scenario compared to the Jets. They signed Matt Flynn at a reasonable figure for a projected starter (three years, $26 million with $10 million guaranteed), but they weren't satisfied to simply hand him the job and drafted Russell Wilson to challenge him. Wilson beat Flynn out, and the team has made strides. The Jets, on the other hand, traded for Tebow while at the same time saying he wouldn't compete for the starting job, handed Sanchez the ball, and have seen the team struggle as they balanced the idea that Sanchez would grow with the perpetual "wrinkle" of Tebow packages. The Seahawks have their man and will be willing to listen to offers for Flynn, who might have a high ceiling if given a shot. Would a package built around a third-rounder get a deal done? It's possible.
Draft Matt Barkley or Geno Smith
According to Football Outsiders projections, the Jets now have a likelier chance to be drafting in the top three than making the playoffs. They likely won't need a top-three pick to target either Barkley or Smith, given the lack of need at QB leaguewide based upon the stellar seasons of the rookie QB class, and due to growth in second-year starters such as Gabbert and Christian Ponder. Both Barkley and Smith also have something that Sanchez didn't have coming out of USC, which is considerable starting experience, making each an easier projection for evaluators. Would a rookie be an upgrade over Sanchez? There is no guarantee, but again, would a rookie be certain to perform worse than Sanchez has in 2012? Absolutely not. Only Brandon Weeden from the 2012 class has performed as poorly among rookies, and he has similarly been a victim of his receivers.
Target Jason Campbell in free agency
Jets fans, I can see you gag at this point. Want to make it worse? Look at Campbell's numbers next to Sanchez's. The Bears backup, signed to a one-year deal in the offseason, certainly lacks a high ceiling at this stage, and that's an understatement. But Campbell has three NFL seasons as a starter that are clearly better than even the best NFL season Sanchez has put together in terms of overall performance, accuracy in particular. Now a journeyman, Campbell's career passer rating of 82.6 exceeds Sanchez's 72.8 mark. He does not represent a fix, but he does represent legitimate competition at QB. He might jump at a fair chance to earn a starting job, even on a one-year deal.
Pursue a trade for Kirk Cousins
When the Redskins drafted Cousins, many evaluators considered it a play for future draft picks given the massive draft value the team dealt to take Robert Griffin III. Cousins would qualify as a leap of faith but could also be acquired without relinquishing a first-rounder. Again, Cousins doesn't represent a sure upgrade, but he does qualify as a player who could challenge Sanchez in 2013 and could ideally take over the starter's role in 2014 if Sanchez is gone at that point.
AP Photo/Gregory Bull
Matt Moore, who has played fairly well as a starter, could compete for the Jets' top QB position.
Target Matt Moore in free agency
Moore also lacks a ceiling (that's not the same as "limitless!") but has a career passer rating of 80.5 and has performed competently when asked to start in both Carolina and Miami, neither a situation where he was flush with weapons. While he isn't a great long-term solution, he is a legitimate competitor for the starting job, perhaps as a stopgap while the team develops a lower-round QB draft pick.
Break the glass, this is an emergency
Draft Tyler Wilson, E.J. Manuel or Landry Jones
All three are currently considered second-tier options in the 2013 NFL draft. That valuation could change; both Wilson and Manuel are considered high-ceiling players capable of putting on a show during postseason all-star events and throughout the draft process. Each will also have multiple years of starting experience and should come in with the intent to challenge for a starting job in the right situation. What Sanchez has done in 2012 certainly qualifies as a situation ripe for a challenge.
Pursue a trade of Sanchez to Arizona for Kevin Kolb
This is a borderline nuclear option for both franchises, and I certainly wouldn't call it realistic. But given how the deals match up, it could also be considered a perfect turn of the page on a player for two unsatisfied franchises. Sanchez could use the change of scenery and might thrive with pass-catchers who can haul in some of his less-than-precise passes; Kolb still has the potential to thrive if a team can manage to keep him upright.
Pursue a trade for T.J. Yates
The Texans just handed Matt Schaub a five-year, $66.15 million deal, so Yates is effectively locked into a backup role. He would be no lock to beat out Sanchez, but again would qualify as legit competition for the starting job. Yates has already been to the playoffs as a starter and performed reasonably well in limited time, all of it without the services of Andre Johnson.
Target Michael Vick in free agency
Defcon 7! Did I mention the Jets have brought in both Favre and Tebow over a five-year period? Vick is as likely to start in Philly next season as Ron Jaworski, and bringing him to New York on a flier would be the most Mike Tannenbaum move ever. (Which is saying something.)
Pursue a trade for Kyle Orton
The Cowboys have professed a desire to seal Tony Romo up for the long haul, making Orton with his current deal among the best low-cost backup QB values in the league. But Dallas might be willing to listen, particularly since the Cowboys will likely take a draft flier on a developmental QB in the 2013 draft.
Watching the Jets' offense in 2012 has been like walking blindfolded across a floor strewn with Legos. I've managed to watch every single play. Not a single one of the situations laid out above represents a guaranteed upgrade over Sanchez for the Jets in 2013. But every single one represents the chance to provide legitimate competition to a QB who has regressed to a league-worst level in 2012. Every option should be on the table.
Link on that last part. Dallas has said nothing of that nature in a long while. Why do you think they signed Orton to begin with? Maybe to prep a young QB? Romo needs to start winning or they will drop him like a bad habit. I don't care what the Jones's said back in Feb. If you seriously think Romo is going to be back in Dallas next year I think you off your rocker. That love affair is over. I expect then to trade him for MJD or even to Chicago. I'd say the likely hood of them moving Romo is about 90% at this point. Jerry would have to be crazy to give him a 100mil dollar deal at this point.
i strongly believe Mr.Rivers will be available this off Season.. Of course it most likely will cost someone a package that includes a first rounder. I do think his time in San Diego is up. i think he's on the outs.
Wow, the evidence against Sanchez just keeps piling up.
I've was a Sanchez supporter until the last 2 games. I've now turned.
Man this sucks......again......same story over my entire 33 years on this earth. The NY Jets are without a viable QB.
**** - why can't we ever get a QB. I think we're the only franchise to have never ever had a good QB in the last 30 years. Well maybe that's an overstatment.
The Buccanneers maybe?
Bucs - they HAD Steve Young in 1986!
Seahawks - 1976-91 (16 years - 2 QB's) Jim Zorn then Dave Kreig
Cardinals - Jake Plummer. Before that 1973-88 (16yrs - 2 QB's) Neil Lomax and Jim Hart
Bears - Jay Cutler. They also had McMahon 1982-1989 and won a SB with him.
For 12 years from 1980 to 1991, the Jets basically had 2 starting QB's, Todd then O'Brien. Todd was terrible. O'Brien was not a franchise QB, but he was well above average. I'd take a QB with his ability any day, except on the day I could have Dan Marino instead. And that pretty much sums up what it means to be a Jet fan.
Of these options, the one I like the most is trading for TJ Yates. Although since Matt Moore beat us, that may be grounds for Tanny to pursue him, although we know how that scenario played out in March *cough cough*.
Funny how you guys want to sign Kyle Orton to be our STARTING QUARTBERACK. All I suggest is signing Vince Young to be our cheap backup QB after getting rid of Tebow and somehow that's the antiChrist. Vince Young is actually better than Tim Tebow and I've watched both of them play extensively in college and the pros.