Truth vs. Myth Perception of 3rd Year QB's. Are we too quick to judge Sanchez?

I remember coming into this season hearing all the talk from commentators about Sanchez taking his second step. Although I was and still am very high on Sanchez, I seriously doubted given the circumstances he was in (Oline, new WR's, bad OC, shortened pre-season) that Sanchez was going to light it up this year. Through 10 game so far, hes thrown 14 TDs and rushed for an additional 3. At this rate, he should have more total TD's than any Jets QB since Vinny Testaverde when he threw for 29 TDs in 1998. No matter how you may look at it, this is massive improvement at the QB position over what we have had in the past 15 seasons.

Now, I wish I could put something good together but I'm currently busy for the next week or so. What I want to tackle however is the perception that 3rd year QBs are suppossed to turn a corner. I decided to go check myself if the stats even back up this statement and I'm surprised to find out that such a statement is nothing more than stupid talking points perpetuated by NFL analysts. Below is a list of notable NFL QB's and their stats in their 3rd seasons.

3rd season on NFL QB's:

Drew Brees -  Rating: 67.5 Completion: 57.6%  Passing: 2,108 TD/INT - 11/15 (2003) 

Brees had an atrocious year in 2003. The Chargers were the worst team in the NFL that year. The very next year with an almost similar team (except with the addition of Gates) Brees produced a career year.

Phillip Rivers - Rating: 92.0 Completion: 61.7% Passing: 3125 TD/INT - 21/15 (2006)

Rivers inherited a great team that would come close to making it to the Super Bowl. LT put up the greatest year by any RB and Gates was just as special at TE. Overall this was a good year by Rivers in his 3rd NFL season when he made his first start.

Aaron Rodgers - Rating: 106.0 Completion: 71.4 Passng: 218 TD/INT - 1/0 (2007) 

Rodgers played two games in his third year. He barely played as Brett Favre backup and never really had an opportunity to show what he could do.

Eli Manning - Rating: 77.0 Completion: 57.7 Passing: 3244 TD/INT - 24/18 (2006) 

Manning's 3rd year wasn't great, as a matter a fact his numbers look like what Sanchez is set to put up at the end of the season. If you remember, Manning in his 3rd year had Tiki Barber light it up with over 2,000 yards from scrimmage. Its safe to say Sanchez has never gotten that type of help from Greene or LT. Also important to note Plaxico and Toomer were peaking in 2006 and Manning had a great Pro Bowl line along with Jeremy Shockey

Peyton Manning - Rating: 94.7 Completion: 62.5 Passing: 4413 TD/INT - 33/15 (2000) 

This was an amazing year by Peyton but it is easy to forget that the following season (4th year) Manning led the league in INTs and the Colts missed the post season. This was the same year Jim Mora had his epic rant about the Colts missing the playoffs and Manning throwing too many pick 6's.

Donovan McNabb - Rating: 84.3 Completion: 57.8% Passing: 3233 TD/INT: 25/12 (2001)

Good numbers by McNabb overall but not great. Also factor in he had a lot of rushing yards that same season. The Eagles made it to the NFC Championship that season under McNabb. Needless to say touchdown wise this was McNabbs 2nd best season EVER. Which goes to show up and down his career was. McNabb did get a lot of criticism in Philly though. 

Jay Cutler - Rating: 86.0 Completion: 62.3% Passing: 4526 TD/INT: 25/18 (2008)

Although his rating wasn't great Cutler had some pretty gaudy numbers in his 3rd season. Brandon Marshall had a lot to do with his 4,500 yards but its important to consider Cutler had over 600 passing attempts in 2008. This was a great 3rd season by Cutler but he followed this one off with a 76.8 rating in his first season with Chicago while leading the NFL in interceptions.

Ben Roethlisberger - Rating: 75.4 Completion: 59.7 Passing: 3513 TD/INT: 18/23 (2006)

After winning the Super Bowl and an off season motorcycle crash Big Ben had a horrible season. He was one of the league leaders in INTs. The 2006 Steelers were the first team not to reach the playoffs after winning the Super Bowl. Big Ben had a major hand in that. 

Carson Palmer - Rating: 101.1 Completion: 67.8 Passing: 3836 TD/INT: 32/13 (2005) 

This was by far the best year Carson ever put up in the NFL. This was also one of the best years any QB has had in recent memory. Carson came close to putting up similar numbers in 2006 but injuries set him back and he was never the same. Those Bengals teams were offensive oriented and relied on guys like Rudi Johnson, Chris Henry, Chad Johnson, and TJ Houshmanzadeh to make plays. That team was stacked and it really helped Palmer who also had a great line.

Tom Brady - Rating: 85.7 Completion: 62.1 Passing: 3764  TD/INT: 28/14 (2002)

These were good numbers by Brady but 2002 still remains the only year he was the starting QB for the Patriots and missed the playoffs. In comparison to the numbers Brady puts up these days it is nothing special, but Brady had a pretty serviceable season for that Patriots team. 



Does not count: Aaron Rodgers

Terrible 3rd years: Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger

Average 3rd year: Eli Manning

Good 3rd year: Donovan McNabb, Phillip Rivers, Jay Cutler, Tom Brady

Amazing 3rd years: Peyton Manning, Carson Palmer

In total as many QBs had terrible seasons as they had amazing seasons. Both Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger would recover to put MVP-like numbers and win the Super Bowl. Eli Manning who had an average year in 2006 won the Super Bowl the following season despite having a lower rating in 2007. Eli Manning didn't finish a season with a rating above 80 until his 5th season! Phillip Rivers continued to put up decent numbers while being supported by a great OC and an even better offense arround him. Both McNabb and Cutler have struggled to put up the numbers they put up their 3rd seasons. McNabb would have a great 2004 with Terrel Owens and thats the closest hes come to repeating his numbers in 2001. Peyton Manning led the league in INTs after his 3rd season but recovered to be a perennial MVP candidate. The same could not be said about Palmer who would never put up amazing stats like he did in his 3rd season.

I know I didn't include Flacco and Ryan but I want to give those guys time before I evaluate them. They both put up similar numbers last year but there is no question that the two regressed this season. 

Basically what I want to say is, judging QB's based off their 3rd season is a crapshoot. You'll be lucky to be right in most of these cases. Just let time pass and allow Sanchez to develop before people start posting Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck trades. 

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