One of the biggest concerns about Geno Smith is, of course, that he could just be another Mark Sanchez. And people have noticed the first blush comparisons between their two first seasons such as QB rating, total interceptions, completion percentage, etc. Others have weighed in on all the advantages Mark may have had like a top Offensive Line, a robust running game (no, the Jets this year did not have a great running game) and other factors, while on the other side people want to talk about advantages Geno may have had. So I thought I'd just put up some advanced stats (from PFF and NFL reference) so that others can see them side by side.
|Category||Sanchez 2009||Smith 2013|
|Yards per Attempt||6.73||6.85|
|NFL QB rating||63.2||66.4|
|PFF QB rating (drops as catches)||71.16||75.09|
|Percent of Passes that are Deep||12.1||13.5|
|Accuracy % on Deep Passes||38.6||46.7|
|Percent of Drop backs Pressured||23.6||41.8|
|Percent Sacked when Pressured||24||19.2|
|Pressured Completion %||40.6||40.6|
|Pressured Accuracy %||52.7||55.5|
The two biggest differences that leap out at me are Accuracy % on passes over 20 yards in the air, a full 8.1% in Geno's favor, and a huge difference in the frequency of drop backs under pressure. Geno was pressured by Pro Football Focus's count +18.1% more (or 76.7% more often, if you want to put it that way). This keeps in line with the narrative of Offensive Line differences. The 2013 Jet OL was 15th in the league in Pass Protection Efficiency (77.2), while the 2009 Offensive Line was 2nd in the league with a PPE of 86.2. And the main 2009 Jet running backs were all more efficient in pass blocking than the 2013 Jet running backs (PPE). Also notable is that Geno was sacked less frequently when he was pressured than Mark was, and had a higher accuracy percentage when pressured.
This isn't to say that Geno Smith has been a better rookie QB than Mark Sanchez was. The league is a little different, and their roles in the offense are very different as well. But the two standout dimensions of QB pressure and Deep throwing seem to point to possibilities that could make Geno a better NFL QB than what Mark turned out to be, a QB that could look down field and hit the deep pass dependably, and a rookie who might perform very differently if pressured significantly less.
What also is interesting is that even though Geno bettered Mark Sanchez in nearly every category (only TD% seems to fall directly in Sanchez's favor), why did our impressions of their two first years feel so completely different?