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Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Going beyond Sanchez-Wilson comparison

By Mike Sando


New York Jets coach Rex Ryan said some interesting things about quarterbacks Mark Sanchez and Russell Wilson on Wednesday.

Ryan, whose Jets visit the Seattle Seahawks in Week 10, compared how his team handled Sanchez's 2009 rookie season to how Seattle is handling Wilson, its rookie quarterback.

There are similarities. Both teams had strong running games and strong defenses. Neither asked its quarterback to carry the offense or team, as a general rule.

"We were built similarly to what Seattle is doing," Ryan told reporters during a conference call. "Seattle right now probably throws the ball less than any team in the league, but is efficient when they do throw it. I don’t know how many times we ran it, but I promise you it was more than any team in the league that first year."

Indeed, the 2009 Jets led the NFL with 607 rushing plays, 82 more than any other team. They attempted 393 passes, 48 fewer than any other team. The 2012 Seahawks lead the NFL in rushing plays. They have attempted fewer passes than every team but San Francisco, which has played one fewer game.

So far, so good. But Ryan also acknowledged an important difference.

"This young man Russell Wilson, I saw something that blew me away which was a 154 [passer] rating over the last five games on third down," Ryan said. "That is ridiculous and pretty impressive. Each guy is different, and you always do what you think is in the best interest of your football team."

Wilson's third-down passer rating over the past five games has been 103.4, which ranks fifth in the NFL over that span. That is up from 45.4 over his first four games, a figure that ranked 32nd out of 33 qualifying quarterbacks (only Arizona's John Skelton had a lower one at 41.1).

Seattle is getting much better production from Wilson lately. That is where the Sanchez-Wilson comparison breaks down.

The first chart compares both quarterbacks' production through nine NFL games.

Wilson comes out ahead, but the difference is far more pronounced when we single out their sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth games. The second chart carries the breakdowns for those games.

Sanchez actually got worse over his 10th through 16th starts. He tossed three touchdown passes with eight interceptions over that span, taking 11 sacks and posting a 24.1 Total QBR score over that closing span.

Chart notes: "PAA" shows how many points the quarterback's play added compared to an average quarterback, using methods explained here. "PAR" shows points above what a replacement quarterback might provide, noting that backups are worse than average. For Total QBR, 50 represents average, 100 is maximum and anywhere in the 65-plus range represents Pro Bowl-caliber play over the course of a season. "Success" refers to quarterback plays improving a team's win probability.