In 2012, Mark Sanchez was the scapegoat of the NFL. But what if in 2017, 30-year-old Mark Sanchez is the starting quarterback of a franchise. It sounds crazy, but it’s not — it’s quite reasonable. I’m not the only one that thinks so.
A prediction. In 3 years, Mark Sanchez will be a starting quarterback in the NFL. John Manziel will be interviewing for analyst work
— Tom E. Curran (@tomecurran) August 20, 2014
Former Jets starter and current Eagles backup had everything go right for him at the start. Despite All-Awful numbers of 12 touchdowns, 20 interceptions and a 53% completion rate, He went 2-0 in the playoffs in his rookie season. Nobody hated Sanchez — yet.
Until 2012 — the year of his collapse — the quarterback appeared to be improving. He was improving his touchdown total, his completion percentage. What should have been recognized was the increase in interceptions. Sanchez was developing bad tendencies. Instead of discouraging him by holding him back, the coaches worsened those tendencies by giving him more power in the offense. What’s a quarterback to say? No?
The Jets were supposed to be playing Johnny Namath ball. Sanchez didn’t need to take risks or carry the offense like the Jets were pushing him to do. He needed to continue to develop as a decision-maker. He needed to develop confidence. Meanwhile, the starting wide receivers went from Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress at the end of 2011 to Santonio Holes and Jeremy Kerley at the end of 2012. The starting running back went from LaDanian Tomlinson in 2011 to Shonn Greene in 2012. The talent was disappearing at an alarming rate.
Just as quickly as the Jets established their rushing identity, it disappeared.
In 2012, the Jets three leading rushers were Shonn Greene, Bilal Powell and Tim Tebow. A franchise supposedly built upon smashmouth football had no one to do the smashing. Greene was supposed to be their best option — and the third-round pick of the 2009 draft should have been Sanchez’s savior and partner in crime. But Greene wasn’t. He averaged 3.9 yards per carry. And he didn’t do much to help Sanchez battle off defenses single handedly. The Jets were a mess. They had no offensive identity and were playing quarterbacks like they had toddlers talking into their headsets.
Rex Ryan is lucky to have a job. But by god is Rex lucky that Sanchez butt-fumbled — because that put the whole Jets’ fiasco on him. It allowed Ryan to rid himself of Sanchez thereby cleanse the organization. It was an unfair solution, but football — and life — is unfair and so everyone went on with their business.
But Sanchez was no worse than Matt Schaub.
Sanchez looked miserable in 2012, throwing 18 interceptions and losing nine fumbles in 15 games. If the Texans had played Schaub for five more games he was on pace to throw 21 — and six pick-sixes. Yet he’s the starting quarterback for the Raiders. Intentionally or not, Rex Ryan rode Sanchez into the ground, then left him for dead.
Sanchez won’t start for the Eagles, but he’ll prove in the next three years that in a system with strong leadership and stronger identity, he can succeed. Before long, he’ll be the face of a franchise.