Sunday, January 24, 2010

Comparison: Mark Sanchez and Other Rookie QBs of the 2000s

Ed Note: This post is a bit lengthy, so bear with me.

I'm a Dolphins fan, I don't hide that. So needless to say, I hate seeing the Jets in this season's AFC title game. I am also not a fan of this love affair with rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez. Nor am I a fan of people insisting that he is a good quarterback.

What really made me consider writing this post was this piece by The Big Lead, "debunking the myths" surrounding Sanchez. Among those "debunked" is the "myhth that the Jets win in spite of Sanchez. Now, I know why TBL used that myth, because the day prior he asked on Twitter why everyone hated Sanchez, and my response was that the team won in spite of him.

"In spite of" may not have been the best word choice. However, he is not winning the team games, and his performances certainly don't warrant the praise he has received. I likened the Jets winning with Sanchez to the Bears making the Super Bowl with Rex Grossman. That comparison was a bit of a stretch.

See, Grossman had the ability to both win games for Chicago, and seriously blow them, yet the Bears still won. Sanchez, on the other hand, has not really proven he can come through and win the games, nor has he shown he can completely blow them (though his three-interception performance against the Falcons could be said to have lost that game for the Jets). But like the Bears with Grossman, the team is winning (for the most part) regardless of his performance. Bottom line, the Jets are winning because of the team's "vaunted" defense and superb running game, and not because of Sanchez.

Now that that's out of the way, let's get down to the meat and potatoes of this post. In the TBL piece, he mocked Football Outsiders for comparing the rookie season of Sanchez, statistically, to that of JaMarcus Russell, and said the similarities meant nothing. But then, he compared Sanchez to other rookie QBs in the playoffs.

Comparing him to one, but saying the other is irrelevant is absurd. So I've decided to come up with fair comparisons. In the last decade, 26 quarterbacks have been drafted in the first round, yet only six of those 26 (about a quarter of them) have started the first game of the season in their rookie years: Sanchez, Matthew Stafford (2009), Matt Ryan (2008), Joe Flacco (2008), David Carr (2002) and Kyle Boller (2003). So I thought it would be fair to compare Sanchez to his fellow rookies in their first seasons.

First, let's take a look at Sanchez's stats from this season:

Mark Sanchez:
Sanchez started 15 regular season games for the Jets, who went 9-7 in 2008. He completed 53.8% of his passes while throwing for 2444 yards and 12 TDs and 20 interceptions. Sanchez also had a passer rating of 63.

And now for the other rookie QBs:

Matthew Stafford:
In his first year for the Lions (who drafted Stafford after going winless in 2008) Stafford only played in 10 games. He threw for 2267 yards, 13 TDs and 20 interceptions while completing 53.3% of his passes with a passer rating of 61.0. Numbers all comparable to Sanchez's, in fewer games, playing for a team that was exponentially worse than the Jets were in 2008.

Matt Ryan:
Ryan was drafted by the Falcons in 2008, a year after the team went 4-12. In his rookie season he started all 16 regular season games. Ryan completed 61.1% of his passes for 3440 yards, 16 TDs and 11 interceptions that resulted in a passer rating of 87.7. Oh, and his team improved to 11-5 (seven more wins than the previous season), and made the playoffs.

Joe Flacco:
Flacco was drafted by the Ravens in 2008, a season after the team went 5-11. As a rookie, Flacco started all 16 games for the Ravens and the team improved to 11-5. He threw for 2971 yards, 14 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, while completing 60 % of his passes and finishing the year with a passer rating of 80.3.

David Carr:
Carr was drafted first overall in 2002 by the expansion Houston Texans. He started all 16 games, going 4-12. Keep in mind, they were an expansion team in their first year. Carr threw for 2592 yards, 9 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. He completed 52.5% of his passes and compiled a passer rating of 62.8.

Kyle Boller:
In 2002, the Ravens went 7-9. They drafted Boller 19th overall in 2003, and he started 9 games that season. He connected on 51.8% of his passes, threw for 1260 yards, 7 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. Throughout the year, he compiled a passer rating of 62.4 and the Ravens finished at 10-6 and won their division.

Now that we've looked at each rookie QB to open the season starting for his team this past decade, let's put Sanchez in the proper place. First off, every other quarterback on this list was drafted by a team that was below .500 when it drafted him. Sanchez was drafted by a 9-7 team that missed out on the playoffs. It's fair to say that his team, which finished 9-7 again this year, wasn't nearly as bad as the teams that these other guys inherited.

That being said, it's still far-fetched for Jets fans to praise Sanchez as a great quarterback, and dub him The Sanchize, etc. Sanchez didn't improve the Jets in the win column in the regular season, while every other quarterback on this list was good for at least two additional wins for his team in his rookie season.

Statistically speaking, Sanchez best measures up with Carr. Both threw for about 2500 yards, completed roughly 53% of their passes and had touchdown-to-interception ratios of 3:5 with ratings of (again, roughly) 63.

Again, Sanchez started for a playoff-caliber team while Carr started for an expansion team. Had Carr not played for an expansion team, would he have been lauded like Sanchez has? Doubtful.

Bottom line, people need to stop sipping the Mark Sanchez Kool-Aid. He is not a great quarterback, nor is he necessarily a good quarterback (yet). He is par for the course in terms of a true rookie starting quarterback, at least for the last decade. He has just been fortunate to be drafted by a team that already had a good defense and superior rushing game, unlike his fellow quarterbacks on this list, all of whom played for teams who weren't all that good the year before.

Chandler Parsons Does It Again

To say Florida's basketball team has struggled shooting the ball this season -- especially from beyond the arc -- would be an understatement. The team currently ranks 272nd in the nation (and second-to-last in the SEC) in 3-point percentage at 31.3 percent.

Those shooting woes seem to go down the drain when the ball is in Chandler Parsons' hands with the game on the line in the closing seconds. First there was his three-quarters court shot against NC State earlier this season. Then, on Saturday night in the O'Connell Center, after South Carolina went ahead 56-55 with 5.1 seconds left, Parsons drilled his second game-winner of the season.

I'd explain it further, but instead, I'll just let the video speak for itself:

Monday, January 11, 2010

USF Head Coaching Speculation: Tony Dungy?

The biggest storylines so far this college football offseason have involved head coaches. Urban Meyer, Mike Leach, Mark Mangino and of course, Jim Leavitt.

Monday, Leavitt held a press conference with his lawyers, saying that he will fight his firing and try to reclaim his job. I find it very doubtful that this actually works out in Leavitt's favor, especially considering the list of player-witnesses that corroborate the story against him.

Instead, Leavitt, who built the USF football program from the ground up and turned it into what it is today, will be forced to move on. So too, will South Florida.

But just where do the Bulls go from here? They are a young program, in the heart of one of -- if not THE -- richest states, talent-wise.

Today, ESPN's Joe Schad reported that Tony Dungy was at USF on Monday to talk to the players, and the athletic director. Could Dungy be on USF's wishlist for a new head coach? Possibly. Will it actually happen? Unlikely.

Dungy makes perfect sense for USF. He already has ties to the area, and his family lives in the area as well. The job would give him the opportunity to influence young minds -- and help mentor them, in a way similar to what he has done for Michael Vick. And his name would do wonders for the program in terms of recruiting.

But does a return to coaching necessarily make sense for Dungy? When he retired as the coach of the Colts, he said he was ready to become a full-time dad and community volunteer. A return to coaching would take that away from Dungy -- the immense number of hours a head coach puts into the job are well-documented.

But would it really take being a dad and community volunteer away from Dungy? Not when you look at it this way. As I mentioned before -- and as others have discussed with me -- a return to coaching, this time in the college ranks, would give Dungy that opportunity to help mentor and influence impressionable young men. Add in that USF has been recruiting Dungy's son, Eric, to play football. If Eric were to choose USF, and Dungy were to want the job, then it would give him ample opportunity to be actively involved in his son's life, both on and off the field.

When you look at it, Tony Dungy to USF could be a match made in heaven. But I wouldn't hold my breath on it actually happening. Should it occur, though, it would be a huge statement for USF as a football program, and help them make that case for turning the "Big 3" in the state into the "Big 4."

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Chandler Parsons Lifts Florida Over NC State

Chandler Parsons ended the Gators' recent woes by nailing a three-quarters court shot in OT, trailing by 2 against NC State.

I think it's a safe bet to nominate this as an early shot of the season in college basketball.

2009 Miami Dolphins In Retrospect, Briefly.

What an up and down season for the Dolphins. It ended much like it started: with a three-game losing streak. However, there was a 7-3 run sandwiched in the middle, there. But this team was better than the sub-.500 record would indicate.

Think about it. Before the season, Vegas had them finishing the year 7-9. Then take this into consideration: the Dolphins lost their starting quarterback, Chad Pennington, three games into the season. The same QB that led them to an 11-5 record and an AFC East title in 2008. Then, Chad Henne, essentially a rookie, was thrust into the line of fire, and came out with a 7-6 record as a starter, despite battling many growing pains throughout the season.

Then, the team's MVP, Ronnie Brown went to the IR with an injury, and the aging (yet remarkably young) Ricky Williams became the team's workhorse and rushed for over 1,000 yards, putting the team on his back at times.

The combination of those two key losses caused the team to alter its offensive mindset, as the WildCat was almost scrapped completely.

Add in the fact that this team is still devoid of a No. 1 receiver, as Ted Ginn clearly is not the answer, nor are Davone Bess or Brian Hartline (though, those two do make solid second or third options at the position).

Despite all of those setbacks, the Dolphins were still in playoff contention at the end of the season, and they still finished with a record that was expected of them (from the "experts") coming into the year. The team still has a lot of growing to do, and their are obvious voids that need to be addressed through the draft and such. But this team is not as bad as the sub-.500 record indicated. They are closer to being a playoff team, than being a complete and utter mess, and with Bill Parcells running the show, I have full confidence that this team's playoff absence won't last very long.