By Harrison Peltz
Another year, another disappointing season. There’s a recurring theme in recent Jets’ seasons; they show promise, but then poor quarterback play blows any chance of a playoff berth goodbye. The two culprits: Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith. You could blame Rex for having minimal knowledge about offense. You could blame Schotty and Mornhinweg for being seemingly incapable of calling a sensical play. You could blame David Lee for being unable to develop them both. You could blame Rex again for throwing them in too early. You could blame the New York fans and media for putting too much pressure on them. But, at the end of the day, they were absolutely terrible. Sure, Rex, Schotty, Mornhinweg, Lee, the fans, and the media played a part in both quarterbacks’ demises, yet, good players are good players, and through thick and thin they will find a way to showcase their talents and win some games.
Sanchez and Geno, needless to say, were never able to do so. Was it because they had no talent? Of course not. Sanchez and Geno were both college-stars, who, while maybe should not have been selected as high as they were, evidently had substantial quarterback abilities during some point in their careers. However, their own flaws, both characteristically and athletically, resulted in lost confidence and seasons. Whose downfall was worse? Well, it’s hard to say, as there are no real statistics that measure how much someone sucks. Kidding; it’s not, and there are. In the week when Coach K got his 1,000th win and Marty Brodeur retired, let’s take a look at some of the less illustrious careers in sports: the Sanchize and Geno Smith.
Geno Smith (worse player)
The fact that Geno’s career didn’t pan out better is an absolute shame. Despite what the analysts said, he was a maven in college. His senior year, he posted 4205 yards and 42 scores in contrast to his meager 6 turnovers. His passer rating was a 163.9 (weird college measurement); only stars like Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck had better ratings than that. Sure, his numbers were inflated due to his receiving corps and the crazy spread offense that West Virginia ran, but those stats don’t just happen.
Not only could he throw the ball, but he also had freakish athletic ability, which he showcased nicely at the combine. He ran a 4.6 forty-yard dash, which placed him best of all quarterbacks in that class. To put that into perspective, Jarvis Landry, the current kick-returner for the Miami Dolphins, ran a 4.7. To make his young career even more promising, he was overlooked in the first round of the draft, which eliminated the immense pressure that high picks are subject to, and also gave him something to prove. Despite such teeming potential, he failed. Why?
Just to clear the air, Geno’s failure was not entirely his fault. It was only mostly his fault. He walked onto a team whose best receiver at the time was Jeremy Kerley (Holmes was still injured at the time). Arizona Cardinals cornerback Pat Peterson put it best when he claimed that he had never heard of the guys he had to ‘guard’ until the week before playing them (he won the game). His O-Line was leaky and his head coach was still living in the three yards and a cloud of dust era. He was thrown into a quarterback position for a team in America’s largest market with little experience, so we should cut him some slack on those terms.
Still, after ample time for maturation, Geno continued to make the same mistakes. He made rookie mistakes well after his first few games, even in his second season. He never hit timing routes properly. He failed to pick up blitzes and get rid of the ball under pressure. He threw picks on picks due to both his inability to read coverages and his high school level accuracy. Throw the deep ball? Geno was statistically the least accurate deep-ball thrower in the league, and that was the only thing his receivers were decent at (Kerley, Decker, and Stephen Hill).
The stats only confirm these notions. He threw more interceptions than touchdowns in one season, having a combined 34 interceptions in his two abysmal seasons quarterbacking Gang Green.
While Geno may stick around in New York for another season or two, his tenure in New York is over for all real intents and purposes. To consider his downfall great is a mistake, as he was neither quite good nor mediocre in the first place. He made a few nice plays, but never truly convinced his fans, his coaching staff, and his teammates that he was a big league quarterback.
Mark Sanchez (Worse Downfall)
So much anticipation. So much talent. So much hype. And for a bit, the hype was justified. The Jets were winning, and winning often. A failed trip to the AFC Championship game, though devastating, gave New York hope. A deep playoff run with a rookie quarterback who played pretty poorly? Imagine what they could do if Sanchez developed. Problem: Sanchez never quite developed. He improved, but no one pats a horrendous player on the back for playing mediocrely (besides the Jets coaching staff with Geno).
The myth that Sanchez was pretty good on the Jets is absolutely false. He threw for 2,444 yards and 12 touchdowns as a rookie, along with 20 interceptions. That accumulated to a total QBR of 31, a joke of a statistic. His play was certainly better the next season, yet still bad by any legitimate quarterback standards; he threw for 3,291 yards, 17 touchdowns, and 13 picks. In his best season, the beginning of the downfall, he threw for 3,474 yards, 26 touchdowns, and 18 picks. He made minor progress year-by-year, but having a career high of 3,474 yards in a season is nothing to be proud of. Get it straight: Sanchez was never that good.
Nevertheless, his downfall was massive and heartbreaking because his team was great and he showed the ability to lead them on multiple occasions. Gang Green was stacked defensively. A D-line fortified by Jason Taylor and Sione Pouha, a linebacker corps consisting of David Harris and Bart Scott, and, of course, the highly touted secondary, which may have been one of the best of all time. This team, along with their sound running game led by Nick Mangold and D’Brickashaw Ferguson, was of Super Bowl caliber. In Sanchez’s two first seasons, he didn’t let them down when they needed him. He actually did more than that: he made some miraculous, game-changing plays. During the playoffs, he played nearly perfect games, all on the road. His QBR in his first playoff was an impressive 92.7, while his QBR in his second playoff was a 95.5. Those numbers are Brady-like. They are also the reason why his downfall was so great.
The Jets were 8-5 in Sanchez’s third season. With one more win, they could have possibly made the playoffs. Two more wins, they would probably make the playoffs. If they ran the board, they might have even been able to play a playoff game at home (something New York hasn’t seen since Pennington).
In the first of their final three games, the Jets got dismantled by the Eagles. Sanchez had a horrible passer rating of 67.8. Funnily enough, this was the best game he’d play before the end of the season. The next game, the Jets lost to the Giants, and Sanchez had a passer rating of 54.2. In the season finale, the Jets lost to the Dolphins, and Sanchez had a passer rating of 65.5. They lost all three games and missed out on the playoffs. Who was to blame? Sanchez.
That was the beginning of the end. In the next season, Sanchez developed a severe case of the yips, to the point of not even being able to catch a shotgun snap. He was eventually benched for Greg McElroy. The Jets went 6-10 as Sanchez played his last snap for the Jets ever (he was on the roster the next year, but missed the whole season due to injury).
Obviously, his downfall was worse than that of Geno, mainly because he showed signs of terminating the quarterback curse that has crippled the Jets organization ever since Namath hung up his helmet.
You gotta feel bad for Sanchez and Geno. They stunk up the place, but the ridicule and mockery they received from the fans and media were in poor taste and excessive. Nevertheless, they are both the reason that the Jets have finally admitted defeat and cleaned house. Geno and Sanchez are, ironically enough, the main reason why things are beginning to look up for the Jets organization again.