Could Mark Sanchez be the Greatest Rookie QB in NFL Playoff History?

New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez responds to cheers after the Jets beat the San Diego Chargers 17-14 in an NFL divisional playoff football game Sunday, Jan. 17, 2010, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

Last summer, I wrote a post entitled Who was the Best Rookie QB to Start a Playoff Game (Since 1970)? where I compared the rookie seasons of each quarterback to start a playoff game in NFL history. Well, now we have another this season that has joined that group. Matt Sanchez has joined Shaun King, Ben Roethlisberger, and Joe Flacco as the only QB to win a playoff game his rookie season. He and Flacco are the only two rookie QBs to win two playoff games (I would give Big Ben plenty of credit for helping his team to the top seed in the playoffs, but I’m a Steelers fan). So far in this playoffs, Sanchez has played better than I would have expected him to. Since he has accomplished something that only Flacco did before him, I wanted to see how he matches up with the other rookie QBs that I compared earlier. For the data on those players, please refer to the link above.

In this post, I will show the same data that I showed in the other post, linked above. First, let’s take a look at Sanchez’s regular season stats.

Player Year QBRec Cmp % Yds TD INT Y/A Y/G Rate Sk Playoff Record
Mark Sanchez 2009 8-7-0 53.8 2444 12 20 6.7 162.9 63 26 2-0

There’s nothing really special there. It looks like an adequate season for a rookie quarterback, not great, but not outrageously bad. Sanchez had some really bad games, but he also had some pretty good ones. The only thing remarkable about it is that he’s 2-0 in the playoffs so far. Next, let’s look at the area that I called “Other factors.”

Other Factors Tm D Rk-Pt Tm D Rk-Yd Tm Rush Rk SOS
Mark Sanchez 1 1 1 0.510

Sanchez had a lot of help from the rest of his team: the top ranked defense in both points and yards and the top ranked rushing offense. He did play a somewhat tough schedule, with a SOS of 0.510. It was the toughest schedule of any of these rookies save Flacco. Finally, and this is where Sanchez has the real opportunity to make his mark, let’s look at his playoff performance so far.

Playoff Performance Cmp Att Yds TD Int Lng Y/A Cmp% Rate
Mark Sanchez – Gm1 12 15 182 1 0 45 12.13 80 139.4
Mark Sanchez – Gm2 12 23 100 1 1 21 4.35 52.17 60.1
Mark Sanchez – Tot 24 38 282 2 1 45 7.42 63.16 92.2

So far, among rookie QBs in NFL history, Sanchez has the highest total playoff rating as well as the highest playoff rating in a single game. Although his performance against San Diego was nothing special, he did enough to win. Like Philip Rivers, his counterpart, he only really made one bad decision. In each case, they resulted in interceptions. Unlike Rivers, Sanchez has Darrelle Revis on his team, who made a fantastic play for Rivers’ other interception. We’ll see if Sanchez and the Jets can continue their success, but so far, Sanchez looks like he’s trying to make his claim to best rookie QB to start a playoff game.

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One Response to “Could Mark Sanchez be the Greatest Rookie QB in NFL Playoff History?”

  1. justin Says:

    sachez IS the best rookie QB of all time hands down

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