Vince Verhei draws an intriguing comparison. JaMarcus Russell, 2008-09: 198-for-368, 2,423 yards, 13 TDs. Mark Sanchez, 2009-10: 196-for-364, 2,444 yards, 12 TDs. The difference? Sanchez threw more picks. And only six people thought to mention Russell's "poise." Six.
Russell is of course a national punchline, and Sanchez is a famous beachwear model who is praised to the heavens for occasionally passing a football to members of his own team. Verhei ran some numbers, though, and found that Sanchez's top comparable was none other than Russell himself. He mentions the stats above and notes further:
Russell started 15 games at age 23 in 2008; Sanchez started 15 games at age 23 in 2009. The biggest difference is in interceptions, where Sanchez was significantly worse, throwing 20 interceptions to Russell's eight.
Actually, the biggest difference is that Sanchez's mediocrity has been gussied up in the media and presented to us as "poise," whereas Russell's, in those days, was invariably chalked up to his "raw" talents. (Send that one to the boys at Bletchley Park.) I count only six "poise"s for Russell during the 2008-09 season, the first of which is a pun, the second of which barely rates as a compliment, and the third of which may very well refer to a night out at Dave & Buster's.
Paul Gutierrez, Sacramento Bee: "... directed the offense with, dare I say it, pride and poise ..."
Gwen Knapp, San Francisco Chronicle: "The poise of JaMarcus Russell, who had his best game yet as a pro quarterback? Noted, but not set in stone. Probably not even worth writing in ink."
Ailene Voisin, Sacramento Bee: "JaMarcus Russell's poise and dart-throwing ..."
Bruce Macgowan, Marin Independent Journal: "JaMarcus Russell showed poise in the final drive ..."
Mark Purdy, Contra Costa Times: "... showed poise by not flashing anger or frustration when his first-quarter touchdown pass to tight end Zach Miller was nullified by a stupid illegal formation penalty."
Cam Inman, Contra Costa Times: "At least the 49ers' and Raiders' inexperienced quarterbacks showed impressive poise in their openers ..."
Sanchez has a better team than Russell did in 2008, and he has enjoyed vastly better PR. There's a lesson in this for any young quarterback seeking the overpraise of the national football press. Be handsome. Don't get drafted by a crazy person running a franchise from his sarcophagus, and don't hold out if you do. And somehow contrive to get yourself photographed by GQ while dry-humping a supermodel on a beach. You'll be poised in no time, no matter how many interceptions you throw.
Divergent paths for Greene, Sanchez [ESPN Insider]