There are two definitely good things to be said about the Jets obtaining Southern Cal quarterback Mark Sanchez. The first is that he’s probably the best prospect available. The second is that he looks a hell of a lot better than anything they have right now.
But there are potential pitfalls. The first is what we’ll call the SoCal QB Syndrome…
This occurs when a very talented kid surrounded by equal talent hits
the pros and finds out that his teammates aren’t as good as he is. This
happened to Cincinnati’s Carson Palmer, who has played his heart out in
65 NFL games for a mediocre Bengals squad, throwing 107 touchdown
passes but able to do no more than a 32-33 W-L record.
Another example of the Syndrome is Arizona’s Matt Leinart, who
quarterbacked USC to national championships in 2003 and 2004. His
college record is mind-boggling: 99 TD passes against just 23
interceptions and a whopping 8.6 yards per throw. Leinart has played in
only 21 games with the Arizona Cardinals, starting 16 for a W-L of
7-9. He’s had only 14 TD passes as a pro against 17 interceptions and
has been able to average an anemic 6.7 yards a throw.
Sanchez doesn’t appear to have much ability as either of his two USC
predecessors, but as Chad Pennington proved, you don’t need a great arm
to succeed as a pro quarterback. In Sunday’s Daily News, Rich Cimini
quoted an opposing GM who called Sanchez ” ‘Pennington-plus.’ In other words, a quarterback with terrific intangibles and a slightly
better arm than Chad Pennington.”
This sounds great, but remember that
Pennington got hammered pretty hard as a Jet – he was the most knocked
down QB in the league in 2007. Which means that Sanchez and the Jets
will go as far as their blocking in 2009.
All of which probably translates into Sanchez needing at least a year
of development before Jets fans can expect to see some returns, so
they’re going to need to show some patience this season. But that
shouldn’t be too hard – Jets fans have been showing patience since Joe
Namath’s first season.