Because that is the only reason why Scott would predict that Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez will break into the ranks of the NFL's top 10 passers in 2012. Before last season, Manning famously declared that he considered himself to be in the same class as Tom Brady and backed it up with a Super Bowl win over Brady's Patriots in February. Now, Scott is hoping that his proclamation will ring true for another New York quarterback.
The problem is that, save for a similar problem with interceptions, Sanchez is not in Manning's class — and he won't be among the league's top 10 quarterbacks this fall.
That's not to say that there haven't been positive signs for Sanchez supporters — his touchdowns thrown, completion percentage and yardage totals have all increased in each of his three seasons in the league — but rather that there are too many good passers for Sanchez to leapfrog if he is to join the upper echelon of NFL quarterbacks.
The last nine Super Bowls have been won by six quarterbacks — Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers. It's hard to see Sanchez being better than any of them in 2012 unless Peyton Manning's neck and arm don't hold up.
Then you compare Sanchez with the next tier of NFL QBs — guys like Matthew Stafford, Tony Romo, Matt Ryan, Philip Rivers and Matt Schaub — and it's pretty apparent that Sanchez probably doesn't belong in that discussion either. Though Sanchez has had success in the playoffs, winning four road playoff games against the likes of Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, it's fair to think that the other members of this group could have accomplished what Sanchez did with the Jets' defense backing them up.
That's eleven guys already, and we haven't even mentioned Cam Newton, Michael Vick, Jay Cutler or rookies Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. Could Sanchez be better than some of these guys in 2012? Maybe. But it would take quite an improvement for him to play better all of these players and two guys from the groups above.
One thing that indicates Sanchez may indeed improve this season is his rising completion percentage, which has gone from 53.8 percent as a rookie to 56.7 last season. Accuracy is tremendously important in today's NFL, and though Sanchez ranked just 28th in the league in completion percentage last season — again showing that he still has work to do — the fact that he has continued to improve is encouraging.
However, simply improving on that one stat will do little to quiet Sanchez's critics. The biggest thing the 25-year-old needs to work on right now is his consistency. Last season, Sanchez looked great in completing 26 of 44 passes for 335 yards and two touchdowns in a season-opening victory over Dallas. But with the Jets closing in on a playoff spot late in the season, Sanchez faltered badly, throwing seven interceptions over the final three games, all Jets losses.
Sanchez had interceptions in 12 of the Jets' 16 games last season, with multiple interceptions in five of them. Only four players threw more picks last year than Sanchez's 18. Clearly, that is another area in which Sanchez has struggled.
Of course, Sanchez could silence his critics by getting the Jets over the hump and taking them to their first Super Bowl since 1969. It's not an unreasonable thought, as Sanchez has already taken New York to two AFC Championship Games, but it's becoming more and more important to have an elite passer in today's NFL.
Consider that the only quarterbacks to have reached the Super Bowl over the last five years were the six quarterbacks on that first list, plus the retired Kurt Warner, who was a pretty fair player in his own right. It's nearly impossible to get to the Big Game with a subpar quarterback these days (2006 Chicago Bears excepted), so to even reach the Super Bowl, Sanchez will likely have to play at an elite level.
Unfortunately for Jets fans, Sanchez's performance over the last three seasons has not suggested that he will be able to jump even into the league's top 10 quarterbacks, let alone the elite club of quarterbacks who have taken their team to a Super Bowl
The fact of the matter is that, in 47 regular season starts Sanchez has shown to be, at best, a league-average quarterback. Even if he were to improve from last season, there are too many quality passers in the NFL for Sanchez to justifiably rank in the top 10.
Sanchez had better hope that he plays better in 2012, though, if not for the Jets' sake, than for his own. Tim Tebow awaits.
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