For those of you that have already closed the book on Mark Sanchez, just stop reading at this point. This article will not sway you. I doubt that anything will. For those of you who are clinging to the hope that the Broncos will get improved QB play in 2016 relative 2015, this article is for you. You see, Mark Sanchez, by almost every statistic have been a below average NFL QB during his career. Here's bit of information that might just brighter your day - NFL QBs can get better and improve their game after they have been in the league.
The real question becomes - "How much improvement is normal?" or, better stated, "What's the best case scenario for Mark Sanchez statistically if he is is our starting QB in 2016?"
|Rich Gannon||before OAK||83||58||1000||1758||56.9%||11158||66||3.8%||54||3.1%||6.3||8.4||7||8|
|Rich Gannon||with OAK||74||74||1533||2448||62.6%||17585||114||4.7%||50||2.0%||7.2||6.2||9||12|
|Vinny Testaverde||before NYJ||142||132||2300||4177||55.1%||29223||175||4.2%||183||4.4%||7.0||5.9||12||16|
|Vinny Testaverde||with NYJ||65||61||1094||1854||59.0%||12497||77||4.2%||58||3.1%||6.7||4.0||14||13|
|Kerry Collins||before NYG||52||49||788||1531||51.5%||9508||51||3.3%||64||4.2%||6.2||7.8||2||4|
|Kerry Collins||with NYG||71||68||1447||2473||58.5%||16875||81||3.3%||70||2.8%||6.8||5.1||14||17|
|Chris Chandler||before ATL||112||85||1347||2333||57.7%||15216.0||83.0||3.6%||90.0||3.9%||6.5||7.7||6.0||6.0|
|Chris Chandler||with ATL||68||67||981||1672||58.7%||13268||87||5.2%||56||3.3%||7.9||10.5||5||10|
|Jim Plunkett||before OAK||87||87||983||1994||49.3%||13217||84||4.2%||117||5.9%||6.6||9.6||6||8|
|Jim Plunkett||with OAK||70||57||960||1707||56.2%||12665||80||4.7%||81||4.7%||7.4||9.4||13||15|
Rich Gannon was an 11 year veteran when he got to Oakland. He improved greatly on his career numbers during his four seasons where he started every game for the Faiders at QB. That was the last time that the Faiders were relevant.
Jake Plummer was surrounded by a bunch of horrible offensive talent during his six years in AZ. His numbers with Denver were a great improvement over what he had done with the Cardinals.
Vinny Testaverde was a middling NFL QB who played on some atrocious teams (Bucs, Browns and Ravens) before he landed on a relatively stable Jets team with some talent. He only had three healthy seasons with Jets as the full-time starter, but they were his best NFL seasons. Like Plummer, Testaverde showed a vast improvement in his TD:INT ratio.
Miller, quarterback, draft prospects...oh my!
A week before the 2016 Draft, John Elway addressed several areas in his Thursday press conference but didn't offer much insight as so many moving pieces remain.
Kerry Collins actually made the Pro Bowl with the Panthers in his second season (despite throwing only 14 TDs with 9 INTs), but he was not a great QB with the Panthers. Once he matured (and stopped drinking every night), so did his game. With the Giants from 1999-2003, he was exactly what head coach Jim Fassel, defensive coordinator John Fox and offensive coordinator Sean Payton needed, a veteran QB who was adept at being a game manager and who had the capability to win games on occasion. Kerry Collins 7.0% improvement in completion % is the second best of the QBs that I am going to cover (Steve Young was the best - see the table below).
Alex Smith was the wrong guy at the wrong time in San Francisco. After the 49ers used the first overall pick on him, he was asked to do things that he was not very good at (mostly throwing the ball more than 10 yards past the line of scrimmage). Once he was paired with a head coach and an offensive coordinator that allowed him to truly become the king of the check-down, he flourished. His 1.5% improvement (absolute) in interception % is the second best among this group once they changed scenery (again Steve Young had the biggest improvement).
Randall Cunningham did not have much offensive talent surrounding him in Philly. He had lots of weapons including Randy Moss in his prime when he was playing for the Vikings. He also had an offensive minded head coach in Brian Billick who let him throw the ball deep to Moss and Chris Carter and let them go get the ball. Cunningham really only had one great season with the Vikings - he was hurt the following year - but it was his career year and it was a huge improvement over most of his career stats up to that point.
Jim Harbaugh and Chris Chandler were both journeyman quarterbacks who ended up on teams that allowed them to do what they were best able to do. Both flourished (albeit briefly) with their latter teams (Colts and Falcons). Steve Young's story of redemption/improvement is so well chronicled that I'm not even going to bother beyond saying that he only spent two seasons in Tampa Bay before the 49ers acquired him.
The oldest QB on the list is Jim Plunkett who was the 1st overall pick in the draft from Stanford (where have I heard that before?) by the P*ts in 1971. He was not very good in Poxboro (having only one season where he completed more than 50% of passes) so they traded him to the 49ers where he played two season and performed equally poorly. When he got to Oakland, his stats improved greatly partly because there was a lot more offensive talent around him, but also because he was put in a situation where he was allowed to do what he did best. His improvement in completion % was amazing - similar to Kerry Collins (but not close to Steve Young). He led the Faiders to two of their three Super Bowl victories.
Improvements relative to previous career numbers
note that an drop in int% (a negative number) is a good thing.
So what does this mean to Denver Broncos fans in 2016? It means that there is a possibility that Mark Sanchez could improve. If we leave out the outlier (Steve Young), then the average level of improvement was 4.3% in completion %, 0.9% in TD%, -1.0% in INT%, 0.7 Yards per attempt and -1.3% in sk%. So if Mark Sanchez can do what those QBs listed above did here are his expected numbers (adding the average change to his career numbers)
- 61.0% completion (league average was 63.0% in 2015)
- 4.7% TD% (league average was 4.6% in 2015)
- 2.8% INT% (league average was 2.4% in 2015)
- 7.4 yards/attempt (league average was 7.3 in 2015)
- 5.3% sk% (league average was 6.1% in 2015)
What would that equate to in 500 passing attempts? 305 completions, 3700 yards, 24 TDs, 14 INTs, 27 sacks. That's pretty close to the stat line that Ryan Tannehill accumulated last season.
The somewhat sobering fact is that means Mark Sanchez would improve to become basically a league-average QB. That's tempered by the knowledge that even league average is a huge improvement over the level of QB play that we got from Manning and Osweiler in 2015.