Mark Sanchez has been, by many indicators, the worst full-time starting quarterback in the NFL this season. That sounds like a shock-value statement -- good for New York radio, garish in football reality -- but it's not. The numbers and tape are piled up.
I have defended Sanchez often -- he lacks weapons, creative play calling, a run game and experience -- but as his career sample size grows, it's just defending a QB based on historical standards, not based on the current NFL. While Sanchez has a career completion percentage (54.7) similar to Phil Simms (55.4), in the modern NFL, with every advantage systemically built to favor passers, the Jets' QB is well below average.
The culprit is a lack of accuracy, a trait that hasn't improved. Completion percentage should be considered a superficial stat, football's version of the RBI, something dependent on too many other factors. And Sanchez has never achieved a mark that is in the top half of qualifying passers. This year, he's last in the NFL at 52.0 percent. But his quarterback accuracy percentage -- a ProFootballFocus stat which factors in drops, throwaways, spikes and batted passes, and quantifies pure throwing accuracy -- is a disaster. Sanchez has been last or second to last in the NFL in each of his four seasons. He was dead last as a rookie, and in 2009 and 2010, only Derek Anderson and Blaine Gabbert were lower, respectively. This year, he's again dead last.
The big issue is that this mitigates the perception that a lack of weapons is the problem. Even great surrounding talent matters little if you can't deliver the ball on or near frame consistently. Sanchez is accurate with passes this season (64.1 percent accuracy percentage) at a lower rate than 11 QBs are completing them.
There are other problems: Sanchez completes passes of less than 10 yards at 55.8 percent -- no other NFL passer is below 60 percent. Against five or more rushers, he completes passes at just 48.7 percent according to ESPN Stats & Info, also an NFL-worst. Overall, he has the worst completion percentage of any QB through Week 10 since 2005. And what the Jets' decision-makers must understand is that this isn't new. A couple of playoff runs and some clutch performances viewed through the prism of his youth mask the reality that while Sanchez has struggled mightily in 2012, he's performed similarly in previous years. What he's had is a Jets defense that has been among the NFL's best in each season he's been in the league, starting with a brilliant defense during his rookie year.
That defense has dipped slightly in 2012, and Sanchez has been completely exposed.
This doesn't mean the Jets should bench Sanchez now. It doesn't mean they should start Tim Tebow, who last year was as inaccurate as any passer since Akili Smith in 2000. What it does mean is that the Jets must go into the offseason willing to consider bringing in a QB who can legitimately upgrade their passing attack, or at least force Sanchez to reach a level he hasn't yet attained. And think about it: If you had a position where you could say, "This is the worst anyone is playing at this position in the NFL," you'd demand a change, or at least legit competition. Why not at the most important position? For a franchise that has, in a five-year period, brought in both Brett Favre and Tim Tebow, the idea would be one of the most salient options the team has considered.
Here are 10 QB moves for the Jets to consider.