In reviewing Mark Sanchez's career accomplishments since he took his first snap under center in a green uniform, the success-filled resume makes it hard to believe he's only played two full seasons in the NFL.
The 24-year-old has already garnered four postseason wins (all on the road), accumulated almost 6,000 passing yards in only 871 attempts and posted a career postseason QB rating of 92.2.
And the best part about it: His most prominent moments have come in clutch moments in games - something your everyday, run-of-the-mill quarterback won't provide. And the numbers back it up: In his last 20 games, he led the Jets to victory in game-winning drives in seven of said games.
The young star has already made a name for himself and accomplished what many quarterbacks in the NFL never could, and the good news is: This appears to be the beginning of a long, successful career in the beautiful swamps of New Jersey for the California native.
A great fit in Brian Schottenheimer’s schemes:
While many analysts and pundits have doubted Sanchez’s ability, it’s actually no surprise as to why he’s already had success in his short tenure here. The fact remains: Sanchez is the perfect fit in the Jets’ offensive schemes. His mobility and agility allow him to keep defenses on their toes with misdirections and play-action passing; his accuracy in hitting receivers on short routes is stellar; and his strong mechanics coupled with quick-release throwing motion enable him to move the ball down the field effectively and score quickly, if need be.
He’s an excellent game manager – and that’s exactly what Gang Green needs. The Jets’ stout defense and vaunted (‘ground and pound’) power-rushing attack set the framework for victory with short fields and clock management/dominating time of possession.
Oh, and it certainly helps that he operates behind, arguably, the best offensive line in the NFL and has a plethora of weapons on offense to work with.
But let’s give credit where it’s due.
In his rookie season, Sanchez became the first quarterback in NFL history to start the season and win his first three starts. But he didn’t stop there. The Jets made the postseason and Sanchez lead them to two victories. And he did so on the road, too.
I bet you didn’t know:
Sanchez’s postseason record is 4-2; he has already tied the record for career road wins by a starting quarterback.
And, for all of the
genius stuck-in-the-past Dolphins fans in South Florida, he has already won as many postseason road games in his two seasons in the NFL as Dan Marino (1-6 on the road) and Brett Favre (3-7 record) combined for in their entire careers!
So, what now?
Sanchez, this season, faces the biggest test of his career thus far: Taking the reins to run the offense with the pressure solely on him. With two full seasons of experience now under his belt, Schottenheimer will likely remove the handcuffs and open up his playcalling. And if things do go astray, the onus will be on him.
But that's exactly how the young star likes it, apparent in his recent interview with Steve Serby where he exhibits strong personal responsibility and leadership qualities. It seems as if he is up to the task and ready to step up to the plate.
And if his postseason numbers are any indication as to what's in store in the future, I think he will do just fine.
Let's take a look at some statistics from his first two seasons as compared to two other NFL quarterbacks - whose numbers early in their careers were well, not so good.
Drew Brees, Super Bowl XLIV Winner
Eli Manning, Super Bowl XLII Winner
Future is bright:
The hard work both on and off the field and extra hours spent in the film room have already paid dividends -- as the young QB is already showing signs of maturity and leadership, fueled by the desire to win. We all watched him on "Hard Knocks" and remember how much time he was featured breaking down film with the coaching staff on a daily basis.
Steve Sarkisian (USC's former offensive coordinator) said Sanchez is the hardest working quarterback he's ever coached, according to FF Jungle. Sarkisian also said he is a true student of the game, and shows attention to detail and leadership quality.
Last season, Sanchez improved immensely: Throwing seven less interceptions, racking up almost 900 more passing yards and improving his vision/doing a better job surveying all of his options on the field.
The results are yet to be determined and only time will tell. But with the amount of progress he has already made, it's hard to be anything but optimistic for the future.
So credit Trader Mike and Co. yet again -- it's safe to say the gamble to trade up and take Sanchez in the 2009 Draft paid off.