Last year two quarterbacks stepped up big in their rookie seasons. Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan each put together exceptional first-years and led their teams to the playoffs. Immediately before this year's draft, virtually every draft analyst believed there were several "NFL ready" quarterbacks ready to follow the lead of Ryan and Flacco, ready to start from day one. The other name that was brought up continuously was Peyton Manning, coming off his 3rd MVP award, the poster boy for putting a quarterback in a "baptism by fire" in which first year struggles result in vast improvements. No one really argued with this line of thinking. Players like Ben Roethlisberger, Manning, and last years wonders, are among the best quarterbacks in the league. And teams like the Lions and Jets bit, and bit hard. The Lions announced Stafford as the starter early in training camp, while the Jets "awarded" Sanchez with first-string duties after a "battle" that was about as unbiased as the USSR-USA 1972 Olympic basketball final. Needless to say, Sanchez was the day one starter and looked poised and effective. Already comparisons to Joe Namath and Tom Brady were being made. Sanchez became the first rookie quarterback to begin 3-0 (for rookies that started in all three of his team's games.) Then Sanchez faced the New Orleans Saints defense and his confidence turned. Progressively spiraling downwards, Sanchez now finds himself among the worst statistical quarterbacks in the league, as teams have figured him out, he has lost all confidence, and he looks like he does not belong in the league. Jets fans are concerned, feeling that this is their typical luck. Still, they seem to think that first-year struggles are completely normal for future Hall of Fame quarterbacks. Jets fans couldn't be more wrong, and they should be pointing their finger at management, who bought into the "first-year rookie starter" after last year's two anomalies. The truth is that players like Manning, Roethlisberger, Flacco, and Ryan are merely the few survivors of a rookie starter death march that destroys players with great potential. Since 1999, 16 quarterbacks have taken the majority of their team's snaps. Roethlisberger, Ryan, and Flacco are the only three to post quarterback ratings over 80. They are also the only three who aren't considered to be monumental busts. Among the trash heap of former franchise quarterbacks who were ruined because they were brought in to soon, we have such gems as Joey Harrington, Kyle Boller, and David Carr. The point that Jets fans fail to grasp is that ALL of these quarterbacks showed great potential at one time. All of them had the physical tools to succeed at the NFL; all of them expected to jump up to an elite level by their third year; and all of them basically stayed at their rookie production. Peyton Manning was not a model to base the way you develop a QB; he was an exception to the rule that quarterbacks that struggle as rookies will fail quickly in their careers. QBs who played the majority of their teams snaps as rookies (Year-Games-Passer Rating) Ben Roethlisberger '04 (14)- 98.1 Matt Ryan '08 (16)- 87.7 Joe Flacco '08 (16)- 80.3 Matt Leinart '06 (14)- 74.0 Tim Couch '99 (15)- 73.2 Byron Leftwich '03 (15)- 73.0 Trent Edwards '07 (10)- 70.4 Vince Young '06 (15)- 66.7 Cade McNown '99 (15)- 66.7 Quincy Carter '01 (8)- 63.0 David Carr '02 (16)- 62.8 Kyle Boller '03 (11)- 62.4 Chris Weinke '01 (15)- 62.0 Mark Sanchez '09 (10)- 61.1 Joey Harrington '02 (14)- 59.9 Kyle Orton '05 (15)- 59.7 Meanwhile, while there is 1 notable quarterback in the last 10 years who succeeded in the league after starting as rookie (Roethlisberger, since Flacco and Ryan have only played for two years; Orton cannot be considered a success to this point), the following is a list of quarterbacks who waited at least one year before seeing significant playing time, as opposed to QBs who started the majority of snaps: Since 1999, quarterbacks who did not play the majority of their team's snaps their rookie season: -Donovan McNabb -Daunte Culpepper -Chad Pennington -Tom Brady -Michael Vick -Drew Brees -Carson Palmer -Eli Manning -Philip Rivers -Aaron Rodgers -Jay Cutler Jets fans should not be so optimistic that Sanchez will be "fine." Much more than likely, the Jets organization has ruined him beyond the point of return. You may protest, throw up your arms, or say that "my instinct" tells me Sanchez will succeed because he "looks" good out there. Bottom line is, every rookie quarterback is their team's starter because of that sexy potential. Everyone thought it would be a matter of time before guys like David Carr, Cade McNown, and Chris Weinke busted out to the next level. The Jets really botched this one. The success rate for a quarterback who sits out his first year is much higher than a rookie thrown into the starting lineup. Rather than being in the company of greats like Brady, Brees, and McNabb, history strongly suggests that Sanchez will be lumped instead with players like Harrington and Boller.