Yes, the Rams are interested in signing deposed NY Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez.
That, according to USA Today.
“I'd say that there is interest,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher told USAToday.com at the NFL owners' meetings. “I can't say how much. But there certainly would be interest. I don't have a backup with experience on the roster right now.”
No one should be surprised. The Rams need a veteran backup quarterback, and there's the obvious Jets' history between Sanchez and Rams' offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. Fisher and Sanchez are both USC guys, and that connection could be a factor in the Rams' view of the QB.
Is it a fit?
Does it make sense for the Rams to sign Sanchez?
First, some background...
I tend to believe that it's possible for players to do better after they change teams. In many ways Sanchez was doomed to fail in New York, and the Jets did a terrible job of helping him. I'm not talking about what they paid him; the Jets were generous in their contracts with Sanchez. This is about the Jets' support for Sanchez, and their failure to maximize whatever potential he had.
The Jets moved up to take Sanchez fifth overall in the 2009 draft and immediately threw him in as a starter despite his relative inexperience at USC. At first things went well; the Jets advanced to the AFC Championship in his first two seasons. The Jets were carried there by a strong defense and a very productive running game, but Sanchez was more than a bystander; he was able to strike for big plays in the two-year postseason run.
In the two postseasons the Jets won four of six games, with Sanchez throwing for 9 touchdowns and 3 interceptions and posting a passer rating of 94.3. Again, the defense and the rushing attack made it easier for Sanchez to make plays, but he did good work. Sanchez even went into Peyton Manning's football house and won a playoff game at Indianapolis.
Sanchez, however, pretty much spiraled into a free fall after that. When the defense and running game lost power, Sanchez buckled under the weight of the increased responsibility of carrying the team. The Jets allowed their offensive line to deteriorate, and that left a shaky Sanchez even more vulnerable.
When Sanchez was put into that preseason game against the Giants in the fourth quarter last August — behind a backup offensive line, after he already had won the starting job — and got his right shoulder mangled, how often did you hear Sanchez complain about that publicly?
In 2011 and 2012 combined, Sanchez was a turnover machine, throwing 36 interceptions and fumbling 16 times ... including the infamous “Buttfumble” that cost the Jets a potential win over the Patriots in 2012.
Playing in New York probably wasn't healthy for Sanchez for other reasons. You can't help wonder how he'd do after relocating many miles away from the NY tabloids, the reports of him dating high-profile women, and his rep (perhaps an unfair one) of being too active on the social scene.
The Jets began he process of easing Sanchez out by drafting Geno Smith in the second round of the 2013 draft.
And the coaches did an incredibly stupid thing during the 2013 preseason, inserting Sanchez in the fourth quarter of a meaningless exhibition game against the NY Giants. Playing behind second-team, third-team offensive linemen, Sanchez suffered a serious shoulder injury and missed all of 2013.
Sanchez had already been named the regular-season starter before that debacle, so why would the Jets take the risk of exposing him in that Giants game? It was irresponsible.
Though Sanchez worked hard to get the shoulder healthy and strong, the Jets bounced him in favor of Michael Vick, and announced the move on Twitter Friday night.
As much as I'm inclined to think that Sanchez is salvageable, I have a hard time getting past one flaw in his game: An alarming lack of passing accuracy.
Between the 1970 merger and 2013, Sanchez had the second-worst adjusted accuracy rating by an NFL quarterback. Only journeyman Mike Pagel was worse. That data covers a lot of seasons, and many quarterbacks.
(A quickie explanation: adjusted accuracy accounts for the proliferation of the passing game in the NFL, and offers a more credible assessment of a quarterback's play. The league average is 100; Sanchez's adjusted accuracy was 81. But even using the conventional stats, Sanchez never had a completion percentage better than above 56.7, and that's awful.)
On the plus side, Sanchez is still young enough (age 27) to rebuild his game. And he would be familiar with the Schottenheimer offense; Schotty was the Jets' OC during the quarterback's first three seasons in New York. And that's when Sanchez – despite his obvious consistency – had his best moments.
The Rams also need a veteran QB, and in reality the standards are fairly low. There just aren't that many good No. 2 quarterbacks in the NFL, so expectations must be tempered. And given Sam Bradford's injury history, the Rams could use some insurance.
There's also the matter of Bradford's future; he's due to be paid enormous salaries over the next two seasons, and his contract is set to expire after the 2015 season.
Bradford has plenty of critics among Rams fans. The arrival of Sanchez would probably create a full-blown QB Controversy.
Fisher has a history of getting solid (or better) play from down-and-out quarterbacks. And nondesrcipt quarterbacks. It happened in Tennessee with Kerry Collins and Billy Volek. Heck, the enigmatic and underachieving Vince Young once had a passer rating of 98.6 under Fisher. (That was in nine games, and not a full season, in 2010.) And Kellen Clemens played better than most expected (including me) when he took over for the injured Bradford last season.)
I just don't know if Sanchez is what Fisher likes in a QB. The coach prefers a conservative offense that depends on a tough defense, and Fisher has a strong aversion to giveaways. It would be an understatement to say that Sanchez lacks efficiency; the man bleeds turnovers.
Consider this performance history between 2009 and 2012. Among qualifying NFL quarterbacks, Sanchez:
* Had the third-worst interception percentage (3.6), which was only better than Rex Grossman (4.2) and John Skelton (4.2)
* Had the third-worst passer rating (71.7), which put him ahead of only Blaine Gabbert and Skelton.
* Had the fourth-worst TD/INT ratio (0.99) ranking ahead of only Skelton, Chad Henne, and Grossman.
* Had the most fumbles (43) and most lost fumbles (20) of any NFL player.
The large amount of turnovers would drive Fisher nuts. Is that really what he wants in a quarterback? Can the Rams clean Sanchez up and make him an efficient quarterback? Fisher really needs to think about that.
Thanks for reading ...