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What Are the Expectations for Mark Sanchez in 2011
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What Are the Expectations for Mark Sanchez in 2011

With the season just about to get underway I thought I might take a look at just what should be the realistic expectations for Mark Sanchez as he makes the turn from his second to third season in the NFL. I've heard a lot of people in the media as well as fans on message boards talking about how he should get better this season simply because he is a year older. So I thought I would take a look at how realistic that expectation really is.

Before the 2010 season I wrote something about career projections for QB's based on improvement shown in QB rating between the rookie and second season. Sanchez tracked with a pretty good group of QB's that passed the Pro Bowl threshold level of improvement, which was around 17%. So I wanted to focus on that group of players and see if there was indeed more improvement between the second and third seasons. This group of players is:

Boomer Esiason
John Elway
Eli Manning
Donovan McNabb
Kerry Collins
Peyton Manning
Trent Edwards
Bernie Kosar
Troy Aikman
Rodney Peete
Neil Lomax

The list also included Mike Vick and Billy Joe Tolliver, but I eliminated them due to lack of games played in their third season. Here are the average levels of improvement, with a few clear outliers removed:

Average Year 3 Improvement

COMP% Yds TD Int Rate YPG YPA YPC TD/A Int/A
3.41%2.71%-4.19% 2.36% 1.74%5.89%0.43%-2.77% 4.79% 12.96%

Overall the increases are more or less nothing. Surprisingly interceptions were the only noticeable increase which is probably more of a sign that the QBs are simply allowed to take more chances with the football than they were in year 1 and year 2. So based on that expecting a large increase for Sanchez is not realistic.

Though it is a small data set, running a regression analysis on the variables I could try to see if there was anything specific to Sanchez' case that might bring more hope for an explosion from the young QB. Here are the expected stats:

Comp%: 57.8%±0.6%
YDs: 3424±37.7
TD: 23±0.6
INT: 17±0.5
YPG: 214.4±2.36
YPA: 5.88±0.32
YPC: 10.59±0.57
TD/Att: 0.041±0.001
INT/Att: 0.031±0.001

So the bottom line is that there is nothing that has really stood out in Sanchez’ year 2 work that would indicate the large jump in year 3 that many expect. He should be a touch more accurate and probably will not take as many deep chances as he did last season. I think at this point in time you have to begin to expect moderate gains each and every year for the player. The big increase normally occurs in year 2, which we did see from Sanchez if you look a bit deeper at his numbers and do not get overly worked up over his accuracy problems.

However, if the Jets defense doesn’t live up to expectations or the preseason was any indication of what the teams running game will be like, Sanchez is going to get a good deal of blame for the poor performance of the team and it really is not going to be warranted unless he plays much worse than he did in 2010. These are just the normal growing pains of having an above average, but not great young QB at the helm and going for the Super Bowl at the same time. Let’s all hope that Sanchez becomes one of those unexplainable numbers, but expecting it just isn' t realistic.

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