The Jets' Post-Mark Sanchez Landscape

Congratulations are in order for Mark Sanchez. The erstwhile Jets starter joins an exclusive club this season, as he becomes one of four quarterbacks since 2000 to post four consecutive seasons with a 0.05 EPA/P or worse:

Mark Sanchez. Aaron Brooks. Tim Couch. Joey Harrington. It's a remarkable list* not because of how bad these players were but because of how long their teams decided to stick with them. But this is sometimes the trap teams fall into with quarterbacks -- they become pot committed, too invested in the quarterback's success to back out and push the reset button.

*We could probably add Jake Plummer to it if we had EPA data for the 1999 season, as he carried a streak from 2000-2002.

The immediate aftermath for the three other squads has not been pretty. They combined to win just 17 games over the next three seasons combined, for an average record of 5.7-10.3. Only the Saints managed to pull themselves out of the mess thanks adding Drew Brees and Sean Payton before the 2006 season -- and they still missed the playoffs in two out of the three seasons.

What sets Brooks apart from Couch and Harrrington (and Sanchez) is Brooks wasn't a first round pick. He  was a fourth-round third-stringer acquired from the Packers and he only earned a start with the Saints thanks to injuries. Brooks ran with the opportunity and turned it into five seasons as the Saints' starting quarterback.

The Browns and Lions, on the other hand, given the investment (both in terms of money and the early draft pick) in their failed quarterbacks, had much farther to climb to get back to respectability. Both have made just one playoff appearance since, and the clubs have combined to average under five wins per season each.

Could the Jets be in for a similar down period in Sanchez's wake? To get more than just two other quarterbacks to compare him to, let's look at first-round drafted quarterbacks to stay with the same team and post a 0.05 EPA/P or worse for three consecutive years (instead of Sanchez's four):

Joining the crew are Patrick Ramsay, J.P. Losman, Alex Smith and Jason Campbell**. Of the 28 seasons following the exits of these quarterbacks, just five (18.3 percent) resulted in playoff berths. The teams average fewer than seven wins per season over the first three years, with the lights at the end of the tunnel typically not coming until four seasons after the exorcism.

**With a 0.03 EPA/P, Sam Bradford would join this list at the end of the season.

Only one of these squads -- the 49ers -- has had a success story, as they stuck with Alex Smith until Jim Harbaugh arrived. His defense carried the team to the NFC Championship game in 2011 and now Colin Kaepernick is poised to lead them to another playoff berth (and, as of this writing, another division championship should they hold on).

The rest? J.P Losman's Bills and the Patrick Ramsay and Jason Campbell's Redskins have failed to reach the playoffs since their exits, although the Redskins may do so this year on the back of Robert Griffin III's performance.

Including the Saints in the Aaron Brooks aftermath, the teams reaching the playoffs after impressive quarterback busts have done so either through the hiring of a great coach (Harbaugh in San Francisco), the acquisition of a great quarterback (Griffin in Washington) or both (Payton and Brees in New Orleans). The roads back have been otherwise long and even fraught with the same mistakes as in prior years.

The Jets probably have more talent, particularly on defense, than any of the listed teams here exhibited in the last year of their quarterback debacle. As such, the road back might be less bumpy, although such talent could keep them mired in the middle of the draft as opposed to near the top, where the Griffins and Andrew Lucks usually come from (Russell Wilson's third-round selection notwithstanding).

It's easy to see why so many quarterbacks are popped in the first round on what appears to be just the merits of being the top quarterback left. Impact talents like Griffin, Luck and Wilson have completely rejuvenated their franchises, and the opportunity to find the same must be difficult to resist. But taking a quarterback just to take a quarterback has dangerous consequences when the team misses -- beyond the failures as the prized draftee takes his lumps for three or four years, it's a difficult cellar to climb out of.

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8 Responses to “The Jets' Post-Mark Sanchez Landscape”

  1. Joshua Perry says:

    Is there going to be an end of the season stat analysis of the three Caballeros?

  2. ScottM says:

    I'm not sure if I follow the logic. You state, "Of the 28 seasons following the exits of these quarterbacks, just five (18.3 percent) resulted in playoff berths." Wouldn't this lead us to believe the entire team was poor anyway, and the poor quarterback play was influenced by the team surrounding them. You can't really blame the quarterback who's not on the team anymore can you? If anything you could say if the general manager/coach stuck with a bad QB that probably means they weren't good at identifying other positions either.

    Take another example of the Brees/Payton. To me if you added them to an average team I would expect that team to reach the playoffs. But if they weren't able to make the playoffs in 2 of their first 3 years wouldn't that tell you the rest of the team was below average.

    I also wouldn't say Wilson has completely rejuvenated the Seahawks. They do have a top 5 defense (which has improved from last year), a top 5 running back, and actually a pretty good offensive line (which of course nobody talks about.)

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  4. nottom says:

    Campbell and Brooks stand out to me on this list as they were both guys that, while never really adding much, weren't really holding their teams back. They were both above 0 EPA in all years and were just on teams that weren't very good. For a 4th round pick this is really about all that you would expect from Brooks, and while Campbell was a bit of a disappointment as a 1st round guy, he was a late pick and was a bit sabotaged by a revolving door of OCs during his time in Washington.

    It looked early on like maybe this was Sanchez's path, but then he regressed in his 3rd and 4th years.

  5. Crazy Ed says:

    Mark Sanchez's trade value is worth less than Tim Tebow's, that's for certain. It's one thing not to be able to throw, it's another to be a flipping buffoon who worries more about his off-field career as a jiggilow more than his real job.

  6. Anonymous says:

    You havent shown that all teams with the same qb for three years who change qbs make the playoffs any more or less. This argument lacks a tether to gauge context.

  7. Derek Filson says:

    Comment: Greg McElroy will become a tremendous NFL qb! Sanchez is garbage...Let him go play in Seattle for his ex-coach who knew he was not NFL material.

  8. kert26 says:

    Greg McElroy got the start last week, was sacked 11 times and is out injured for this week...what's that tell ya? I bet HE understands better than anyone the crap that Sanchez has truly had to to deal with behind that line, with NO WEAPONS to throw too and a subpar running game. Which is large portion of the dumpster fire of a season that the Jets had this year. Make no mistake, Sanchez has had a bad yr...but I hope they get rid of Sanchez, for his sake...he will have a fine career if he goes quickly people forget how solid he was in his 1st 3 yrs (including 2 AFC championship game appearances). Great defenses or not, u have to have a solid QB to get to that point. Took away his RB n WR weapons he had early on, get him somewhere that's more suited for him, he'll do fine. Good luck New York on figuring out your QB situation for the future

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