One player Mark Sanchez is frequently compared with is Eli Manning. It is a natural comparison. Both are quarterbacks who were high Draft picks for their New York teams. Sanchez's early career statistic resemble Manning's greatly. So does a lot of the scrutiny for struggles through their first three years. Both achieved team success but came under a big microscope for a lack of development and suspect accuracy and decision making. Look at the archives for Giants websites in 2006, and it is scary how much they are like comments here this year about Sanchez.
These comparisons do not guarantee a similar outcome. Mark and Eli are two different people on two different teams. I am not sure how anybody can watch Sanchez and feel confident he is going to develop into a top ten quarterback. One overlooked aspect of how the Giants nurtured Eli might be worth examining, though.
Many have commented about the Giants replacing offensive coordinator John Hufnagel with quarterbacks coach Kevin Gilbride. They also replaced Gilbride with Chris Palmer, an experienced coach. As much as we talk about the coordinators developing players, they get their most individual attention from their position coaches. Manning gave Palmer a lot of credit in his development as a player.
While the Jets almost certainly will be in the market for a new offensive coordinator, if they are going to continue with Mark Sanchez, they might be well advised to look at getting a quarterbacks coach with a track record of grooming young quarterbacks. Sanchez looked lost on the field at the end of the year as though he did not know what to do with the football. It did not seem like he trusted what he saw when it came to coverages. There were times where it almost felt like he was about to throw the ball and then thought about it and didn't because he was afraid to make a mistake. I think if the Jets plan on going forward with Sanchez, they are going to need to break him down to square one and reteach him the position.
It really does not sound like the Jets have been terribly thorough with Sanchez. Every time he has a bad game, they announce to the world an answer like ground and pound, a color coded risk taking system, Mark Brunell getting first team snaps, or a buzzer that goes off if he holds it too long. It seems like his head is swimming out there trying to just not screw up. He doesn't seem now to understand things that it felt like he was grasping last year. It doesn't feel like the coach is getting through to his player.
It might not be all on Cavanaugh, but his track record is not sterling. Do you know what his last two jobs were? He was offensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens. I am talking about the Trent Dilfer version. He was the mastermind of the offense people point to in order to prove you can win the Super Bowl with a horrible offense. His units stayed bad under Elvis Grbac. Then he was given the task of developing Kyle Boller. Cavanaugh moved on to the University of Pittsburgh as offensive coordinator. He started Tyler Palko over Joe Flacco.
Coaching might not be the problem. If the team thinks Sanchez is the solution, though, finding a seasoned quarterbacks coach might be one of the most important moves of free agency.