It would have been a scary thing for the New York Jets franchise if Mark Sanchez hit the standard sophomore slump that many quarterbacks in the NFL go through. Despite a strong post-season in 2009 and a body of work that did show potential, the overall stat-line was ugly. The offense was going to need better than 12 touchdowns to 20 interceptions and a 63.0 quarterback rating.
Fortunately, Mark Sanchez improved in every category possible in his second season. More importantly, he continued to demonstrate he has a unique ability to play better in a bigger spot, along with an ability to avoid the pass rush and make plays outside the pocket.
Looking at stats alone, Sanchez didn't miss a single game in 2010 after missing one in 2009. He threw five more touchdowns and seven less interceptions. His passing yardage total went up 847 yards and his quarterback rating improved from 63.0 to 75.3. Sanchez's completion percentage did improve by one percentage point to 54.8, however that is a number that still needs to climb substantially in the coming years.
Beyond the stats, Sanchez led his team to 4th quarter come from behind victories on four separate occasions. The clutch play didn't stop in the post-season, when after a poor first half in the wild-card round he responded with a terrific second half, leading the Jets back to a victory and then followed with a 127.3 quarterback rating in the divisional round and a 102.2 quarterback rating in the AFC Championship Game.
He is far from a perfect quarterback but has shown more than enough in his first two years to believe he is a legitimate franchise quarterback for the New York Jets. The questions about his arm strength are unfounded because he hit every throw a NFL quarterback needs to make at some point this year. Yes, he needs to improve his accuracy but that will improve with the more comfortable he gets with the Jets offense. Sanchez also wasn't helped by an uncharacteristic amount of drops this year by his receivers. Go watch the fade routes he hit to Santonio Holmes against the Texans the Patriots, the bombs he completed to Braylon Edwards against the Lions and Texans, and the way he avoided the pass rush against Cleveland to hit Jerricho Cotchery for a touchdown and tell me he can't make the throws necessary to be a big time quarterback.