Mark Sanchez is entering his third season in the league. In both of his previous seasons, he has come within one win away from being in the Super Bowl. However, no one is arguing that Sanchez is one of the top quarterbacks in the league because everyone knows that it is the defense that has made the Jets so good. But on the surface, it looks like Sanchez is improving. In his second season, he threw for about 800 more yards than he did as a rookie and he also threw five more touchdowns with 7 fewer interceptions. But I’m not convinced that Sanchez has really improved.
In 2010, no quarterback had more “dropped interceptions” than Mark Sanchez. According to Aaron Schatz at FootballOutsiders.com, Sanchez had 15 dropped interceptions last year. No other quarterback had more than eight. Did Sanchez just get lucky? I think so. He only completed 1% more passes in 2010 than he did in 2009, but he did have nearly 150 more attempts. In 2009, about 5.5% of Sanchez’s passes were intercepted, while only 2.6% of his passes were picked off last year. Let’s say that Sanchez didn’t really improve and that 5.5% of his passes were intercepted in 2010. That would have put him at about 28 interceptions for the year. Going back to Schatz’s numbers, Sanchez had 15 dropped interceptions. Add that to the 13 times he actually did get picked, and he ends with 28 interceptions. There is no reason to believe that Sanchez will lead the league in dropped interceptions again this year, but he could lead the league in interceptions. I expect to see Sanchez regress from his numbers last season.
Due to the lack of outstanding teams in the AFC and the possibility that Peyton Manning misses the whole season, the Jets will still make the playoffs as a wild card at 10-6, but it will again be due to their defense. The Patriots will win the division and a first round bye with the second best record in the AFC at 13-3. Reggie Bush will not lead the Dolphins to a winning season as they finish 6-10 and the Buffalo/Toronto Bills will end at 5-11.