Mark Sanchez to Philadelphia: The Right Choice?
Because I enjoy disappointment and failure, I grew up as a New York Jets fan in Minnesota. After the Brett Favre debacle of 2008, it was time for the team to pick up its franchise quarterback, and I was excited. Then came April 25, 2009, the day that the Sanchize came to New York.
Out of curiosity, I went back through my Facebook account and found that day. Needless to say, I was pretty excited when they announced the Jets had traded up with the Browns to draft Mark Sanchez. My status read, "Jim Sannes says, "J-E-T-S!!! JETS JETS JETS!!!!!!!!!! MARK SANCHEZ, BABY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" In that status, there were 41 exclamation points and 33 capital letters. If you add those up, the sum is still lower than Sanchez's career turnover total (89) in four seasons at the helm of Gang Green.
Now, Sanchez's time in the Big Apple is done. There were the good times (two AFC Championship Game appearances, hot dog gate). There were the bad times (shirtless photo shoots, butt fumble). Those times are done now.
It appears as though Sanchez is headed to Philadelphia, according to Chris Mortensen, to back up Nick Foles. Sanchez will be on a contending team and surrounded by a lot of other talent, something he often couldn't say while in New York.
With this move, though, Sanchez is the clear backup. After the season Foles had last year, there's no way he's de-throned by a castaway bust.
This brings forward the question of whether or not this was the right situation for Sanchez. Was there another team where he could have found more success or possible even started? Well, according to this report from NFL: Around the League back in January, yes, there are situations in which Sanchez could have started. So, let's check out the numbers behind this: is it possible that Sanchez would have been better suited elsewhere?
To answer this question, let's look at some other places where Sanchez could have landed and compare those situations to the one he'll have in Philly. Obviously, this is all hypothetical because we don't know if the other teams even sniffed Sanchez (gross), but it's fun to look at either way.
St. Louis Rams
I wanted so, so badly for Sanchez to end up in St. Louis. Why? Because Sam Bradford is actually in the same ballpark as Sanchez.
Let's compare the two side-by-side using numberFire's Net Expected Points (NEP). In case you're new to the site or need a refresher, NEP is a measure of the expected points a player contributes to a team each play. So, if Sanchez throws a pick, his NEP will be very negative because his team's expected points after that play will be significantly lower than it was before. However, if he picks up, say, a first down, he will have a positive NEP because he increased the expected number of points on that drive. You can find a more in-depth explanation here.
Over his four years as a starter, Sanchez's Total NEP (which includes rushing success) has been -51.73, 11.92, -58.00 and -82.81. This means that over his last two seasons played, Sanchez lost 140.81 points for the Jets offense as compared to what would be expected. In case you couldn't tell, that is really, really bad. That's just a little better than JaMarcus Russell's composite NEP over his last two seasons (-140.95).
Despite the horrendousness (is that a word?) of those Sanchez numbers, Bradford actually isn't that far off. In his four seasons, his Total NEP has been -25.98, -91.76, 26.23 and -1.05 respectively. His worst season (2011) was worse than even Sanchez's butt-fumble season.
The thing that favors Bradford here is the trajectory of his numbers. In 2012, Bradford was actually not bad, and he had a few receivers around him in Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson. But without those two in 2013, Bradford went back to struggling.
This is very similar to Sanchez in New York. In his rookie season, Sanchez only had Jerricho Cotchery and Dustin Keller to help him before the team traded for Braylon Edwards mid-season. Sanchez threw 12 touchdowns and 20 interceptions in the regular season before picking up a bit in the playoffs.
In his second season, the Sanchize met up with his future BFF, Santonio Holmes. Holmes sat out the first four games because of a suspension before joining the Jets in Week 5. Although Sanchez's performance actually went down in the weeks in which Holmes played, his overall performance was much better than his rookie season. The talent was better, and so was Sanchez.
Then 2011 happened. This is where the poop hit the fan. Yes, Sanchez's touchdown-to-interception ratio was better (26-18), but that was it. Everything else was in the tank. Cotchery was gone, Edwards was gone, Holmes was throwing hissy fits, and Plaxico Burress did not exist outside of the red zone. It was a perfect storm that sent Sanchez spiralling into the JaMarcus zone.
Things just got worse in 2012. Holmes got hurt, Keller got hurt repeatedly, and Jeremy Kerley was the only receiver with more than 360 receiving yards. It might have been hard for any quarterback to succeed in that situation.
Now, obviously, a lot of the troubles did include bad decision-making from Sanchez. That's not disputable. But a lot of the struggles were out of his control. In St. Louis, he would have been in a situation in which he could have actually been comparable to Bradford. He also would have been with his old offensive coordinator, Brian "Schotty got a big ole butt" Schottenheimer. But, alas, the stars were not aligned.
After what Josh McCown did last year with the Bears, I'd believe anybody could succeed there. McCown had the seventh-highest Total NEP of any quarterback in the entire league last year, despite only playing in eight games.
Now, the Bears need a backup to Smokin' Jay Cutler and his fat contract after McCown left for Tampa Bay. And considering Cutler has missed at least one game each of the last four years, a backup quarterback should be a priority in Chicago.
For Sanchez, signing a one-year contract with the Bears would have been a dream. He gets to work with quarterback whisperer Marc Trestman, and if Cutler gets hurt, Sanchez gets to throw to Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery.
Prior to last year, McCown had recorded at least 190 pass attempts in just four seasons. His Total NEP sums were -19.13, -34.96, -13.17 and -7.85. Then, with Marshall, Jeffery and company, that number jumped to 89.21 (!!!) last year. That's not a coincidence, home boy.
What more could you want if you're Sanchez? If he were to come in and perform, that could have lead to a situation similar to McCown's where he could have left in free agency and gotten paid. Nope. It would have been too perfect.
The Eagles' gig is very similar to the Bears situation, just maybe not quite as appealing. He gets plenty of offensive weapons around him even if DeSean Jackson is gone, and arguably the game's best all-around running back in LeSean McCoy.
Also like in Chicago, Sanchez would not start unless Foles were to sustain an injury. But spending time with Chip Kelly may be good for Sanchez. It's not as if he had a plethora of offensive geniuses in town while he was with the Jets.
Overall, if I were Sanchez, I would have ideally gone to St. Louis where the quarterback situation is far more fluid than in Philly or Chicago. With that said, actually having some semblance of talent around him and a coach that knows which direction the end zone is also appealing.
Either way, I hope that Sanchez finds some success. The poor dude never had much of a shot in New York considering the deplorable cards he was constantly dealt. The best part of the situation for Sanchez is that you can't ram into a teammate's badonkadonk while holding a clipboard.