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Mark Sanchez: A Disturbing Statistic


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Had an opportunity to do a pre-game interview with another blogger before the Jets-Patriots game.  Was asked about Mark Sanchez only attempting 18 passes against the Indianapolis Colts the week earlier and if he would have to throw more for the Jets to win against the Patriots? My answer, off the top of my head, was that if Sanchez threw more than 35 passes the Jets would likely lose.

The CBS broadcaster mentioned Sanchez had attempted 38 passes at a specific point late in the game.  Remembering the 35 attempts statement began to think if the Jets were going to lose, like had been predicated, because at that point they had a good chance of winning.  After the game ended, another devastating loss, wondered why I thought the Jets would lose if Sanchez threw the ball more than 35 times?

Decided to test my hunch by looking up Sanchez win/lose ratio when he throws the ball 30 or more times in a game.  Found that when Sanchez throws the ball 30 or more times the Jets are 15-17, 7-10 if more than 34 attempts.

Of course any team would like to run the ball limiting the amount of throws even with an elite quarterback as a balanced attack leads to victory but most offenses run about 60-70 plays per game.  So basically if Sanchez is asked to throw the ball over 50% of offensive plays the Jets are more likely to lose than win.

Even during the Patriots game, Sanchez was 28 of 41, 68% completion, so he had good numbers but the Jets still lost.  He was sacked 4 times, had once interception on a late throw to Stephen Hill which should have been a touchdown and fumbled on the final drive when he needed a score to continue or win the game.

Sacks aren’t always the quarterbacks fault but the more the game is put in Sanchez’s hands the more likely he is to hold the ball to long and/or make a mistake which will cost the team.  Even this year’s Miami Dolphins game which the Jets won, thanks to kicker Dan Carpenter, Sanchez 21 of 45, 46.7% completion, 2 interceptions and 6 sacks.

Just as a comparison Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, who was a rookie in 2008, is 18-3 when throwing 30-39 passes (2009-current) and 24-14 throwing 30 or more passes in the same time frame.  Mark Sanchez is 11-13 if asked to throw 30-39 passes during his career.

Bottom line is you can’t count on Sanchez to carry the team to a win even if he only has to marginally carry the team.  Last season the Jets ran 1070 offensive plays and 587 were passes (55%) just looking at this ratio it is not surprising that the Jets were 8-8 but during a 16 game schedule you have to be able to count on your quarterback to win more than 47% of the games when asked to pass about half the offensive plays if you want to be a contender.

All statistics are courtesy of NFL.com.

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This is a dumb stat.

This team is not designed to throw the ball that many times per game, by personnel or offensive philosophy.

If we need to throw that many times per game, other things most likely are going wrong, I.e. defense and running game.

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Found that when Sanchez throws the ball 30 or more times the Jets are 15-17, 7-10 if more than 34 attempts.

It sounds almost as if he's 50-50 when throwing the ball a lot. I don't think there's anything telling with this stat. I wonder what the Jets win/loss record is if they rush for 100 yards.

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Shocking. But yeah, this is a dumb one. It's the inverse of "if a team runs the ball x amount of times, they win".

Yep. A team that is already losing badly will abandon the run and pass almost every down for the rest of the game. A team with a comfortable lead wants to run out the clock and keep the turnover chances to a minimum so they run more.

Used to infuriate me that Parcells used to bust out that "if we run the ball 500x..." stat. Back then I couldn't imagine how such a well thought of HC could say something so shortsighted.

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A prime example of correlation not implying causation.

There is a strong correlation between kick return yards given up and wins. The more kick return yards a team gives up, the more it wins. This may sound counter-intuitive, but after thinking about it for approximately 1.5 seconds, the reason becomes clear:

Each time a team scores, the opposing team gets a kick return. Hence the correlation.

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Yep. A team that is already losing badly will abandon the run and pass almost every down for the rest of the game. A team with a comfortable lead wants to run out the clock and keep the turnover chances to a minimum so they run more.

Used to infuriate me that Parcells used to bust out that "if we run the ball 500x..." stat. Back then I couldn't imagine how such a well thought of HC could say something so shortsighted.

Suspect he knew the reality that the score dictated whether an offense passed or ran late in the game but liked effing with the likes of Francesa confusing an outcome for causation. It's way easier than explaining why that happens. Theissmann would say much the same thing every game he broadcast; if team x runs the ball 35+ times they are 16-0. OF COURSE THEY ARE. You aren't throwing the ball around in the 2nd half if you have lead. Theissmann amde it sound like simply slavishly handing the ball off every down was the reason a team won a game, while it usually is a byproduct of having a lead.
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