The worry for Mark Sanchez

Steady lows for the Jets' QB are starting to outweigh the high points, and he needs help

Originally Published: October 5, 2011
By Peter Keating | ESPN Insider
Mark SanchezPatrick Smith/Getty ImagesMark Sanchez has looked far from a franchise quarterback this season for the Jets.

Forget Joe Namath and Rex Ryan. The New York legend to ask about Mark Sanchez's performance against the Ravens on Sunday Night is Frank Barone, who surely would sum things up with his signature "Holy crap!" Sanchez's completing just 11 of 35 passes was bad enough. His gaining only 119 yards, or an abysmal 3.4 yards per attempt, was worse. But his four turnovers, including three (two fumbles and an interception) that Baltimore returned for touchdowns, just destroyed his team. The Jets, who scored on a kickoff return and an interception return of their own while going down 34-17 almost certainly would have been better off against the Ravens if they had just punted on every first down. Really.

Sanchez was historically bad: Of 909 games since 2008 when a quarterback has participated in 40 or more plays, Sanchez's performance was the absolute worst, with a Total Quarterback Rating of 0.6. Andrew Walter, the former Oakland QB who previously held the record for lowest single-game QBR of all time (0.9 versus Carolina in 2008), can sleep a little easier now.

The question is this: Is it fair to heap all the blame for the Jets' terrible play onto Sanchez? Of course not. He had to contend with a ferocious Ravens D full of players who were especially amped to demolish Ryan, their old coach, and he had to do so without protection from Nick Mangold, by most accounts the best center in the NFL; Mangold was out with a high right ankle sprain. But the numbers still say it's time for the Jets and their fans to be deeply worried about whether Sanchez can productively handle the offensive responsibilities he's being asked to shoulder.

Peter Keating is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, where he covers investigative and statistical subjects. He started writing "The Biz," a column looking at sports business from the fan's point of view, in 1999. He also coordinates the Magazine's annual "Ultimate Standings" project, which ranks all pro franchises according to how much they give back to fans. His work on concussions in football has earned awards from the Deadline Club, the New York Press Club and the Center for the Study of Sport in Society.