Lately I’ve noticed that a lot of opposing fans have taken to calling New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez “overrated.”
Quite frankly, I’m not sure exactly what that means anymore. I thought a player had to at least be, you know, highly rated by the mainstream media to be in consideration to be thought of as “overrated.”
I don’t know who is rating Sanchez so highly. He’ll be the first one to tell you that he needs to improve going into his fourth season in 2012, but I would never call him overrated.
Yes, it’s become something of a sport in itself to bash Mark Sanchez and call him every name in the book. Even some cowardly teammates have hid behind anonymity to trash him this week.
Perhaps the Sanchez detractors get riled up when Rex Ryan praises his young signal-caller, and that’s the source of their “overrated!” narrative. But we should take anything Ryan says with a grain of salt, no?
No, Mark Sanchez is not overrated. I wouldn’t quite call him underrated either, but I do think he’s gotten more than his fair share of criticism lately.
Is Sanchez a good quarterback right now? No, he isn’t. I’m not a blind apologist who’s going to sit here and tell you that nothing’s wrong with Sanchez and the Jets will be fine with him going forward.
But his regression in 2011, I believe, has been a little overstated. He did account for 32 touchdowns this past season, and the Jets were the most efficient red-zone offense in the NFL, scoring touchdowns 65.5% of the time.
It’s true that Sanchez had a career-high 26 turnovers this season; 18 interceptions, 8 lost fumbles. There were certainly times where he looked overwhelmed by Brian Schottenheimer’s gameplanning.
However, if he’s going to be criticized every time the wind blows, it’s only fair if his detractors admit that he’s done some impressive things along the way in his three seasons.
Those playoff wins? The ones in New England, San Diego, Indianapolis and Cincinnati? Those actually happened, you know. Contrary to popular belief, the Jets fielded a quarterback in those games.
It may surprise you to hear that Sanchez’s playoff numbers aren’t all that bad. They’re actually remarkably better than his admittedly pedestrian regular season numbers have been thus far.
Sanchez has completed 60.5% of his postseason passes, with 9 touchdown passes to only 3 interceptions and a respectable 94.3 quarterback rating.
Sure, he wasn’t “asked to do too much,” as they say, but it really does him a disservice when people don’t give him even one iota of credit for accomplishing what few people in league history have ever done.
That, of course, would be his four road playoff victories. No quarterback in NFL history has more than that.
I’m not trying to say that Sanchez was the reason they won those games. He wasn’t. We all know that. But it is fair to say that he played pretty well in most of those games.
Some ignorant people would say that Sanchez was the reason the Jets failed to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2011 AFC Championship game last season, but that’s simply false.
The Jets trailed 24-0 in that game before scoring 19 unanswered points. They fell short, but not because of Sanchez. He completed 20 of 33 passes (60.6%) for 233 yards, 2 touchdowns, and no interceptions.
Sanchez was the one who reportedly made an impassioned halftime speech to pump his team up and keep their heads in the game as they faced a daunting task of a comeback against that defense.
The Jets quarterback outplayed his AFC East counterpart when the Jets went into New England and knocked off the Patriots, too. Sanchez completed 16 of 25 passes (64%) with 3 touchdowns and no interceptions.
My point is, Sanchez has proven he can be a viable starting quarterback on a Super Bowl contending team. He’s played well in big moments, and he’s gotten the Jets right on the periphery twice, before the age of 25 no less.
It’s simply too early to cast him aside and give up on him. I’m not saying he’ll be a legitimate long-term option, but I believe it’s fair to say that it’s too early to say he’s not.
There are lot of good quarterbacks in the league right now. I don’t think Sanchez is in the top 20, nor do I care. What I care about is winning football games. That’s what matters most.
I believe the Jets can win a Super Bowl with Mark Sanchez. Maybe not with him carrying the team on his back, but he can certainly be along for the ride.
There’s more than one way to win a Super Bowl. Having an elite quarterback like Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Tom Brady or Eli Manning is one way. Having an elite defense like the Steelers or Ravens is another.
People forget that Ben Roethlisberger did not “win” the Steelers his first ring. They won that title despite him. It took Eli Manning a few years to put it together. Ditto for Brees.
I am not saying that Sanchez will ever be in that class. I’ll settle for a Trent Dilfer-type if it means a championship for the Jets.
Rex Ryan is a defensive minded coach, and it’s all but certain that he’ll have a top-5 unit year in and year out as long as he’s coaching.
Couple that with strong offensive line play and a solid running game, two things that need to be upgraded next season, and that’s a recipe for success come January and February.
Mark Sanchez is my guy, and he’s Rex Ryan’s guy. For now at least. His fourth season will be a big year for him as he breaks away from the shackles of Brian Schottenheimer and tries to get back to basics.
There are a multitude of things that Sanchez needs to improve upon. But I believe he can do it. I believe he can become a better quarterback, the type that you can depend on week in and week out.
It won’t happen overnight, and he won’t suddenly turn into a Pro Bowler. But he doesn’t have to be. He just has to make plays when he’s asked to make plays and try to cut down on the turnovers.
I expect big things for the Jets in 2012, and that includes a big bounce-back season for Sanchez. Maybe I’m crazy, or maybe I’m the last sane fan out there. You tell me. The comment section’s always open.