Mandel’s Musings – Thoughts About Jeter, Sanchez, and Manning

Published on: 14th September, 2009

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Derek Jeter is the MVP of the American League, hands-down. Joe Mauer? Uh uh. Batting .360 is an amazing feat for anyone, let alone a catcher like Mauer. It’s a great achievement but let’s keep things in perspective. Mauer is doing it when his teams’ games have no meaning and no pressure attached to them. He plays in a hitter’s haven in Minnapolis, doesn’t lead the league in anything else or is anywhere near leading the league statistically in any other category. Wonderful hitter, the Mauer kid. Jeter is among the top  four players in the American League in runs, hits, batting average, and at bats. He’s tenth in stolen bases. He’s seventh in on-base percentage. He’s the leadoff hitter and best player on the best team in baseball, a team that needs to win every game to hold onto home-field advantage in the playoffs. Jeter is the MVP. Period.

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Now, on to footballl.

This kid quarterback with the Jets,, Sanchez, has that certain something that the real good ones (too soon to say great ones) seem to have. They are perfectionists, no matter how well they may fill the stat sheet in a game. Yesterday, after throwing for a career-high six touchdowns against the Detroit Lions, Drew Brees, the Saints quarterback talked about his interception and the mistakes he had made. His team had scored 45 points and moved up and down the field but Brees wasn’t entirely happy with his performance. Peyton is the same way. So was Staubach, for you old-timers. And Montana.

 

Sanchez put on a tremendous show yesterday in Houston against the Texans, winning his NFL debut, throwing for 272 yards (the third most by a rookie starting his first NFL game) while showing the type of poise and footwork rarely seen at this level. Yet, in his post-game comments, Sanchez could only talk about the egregious “rookie mistakes” he made yesterday. His self-critical remarks in the face of a big, opening day win on the road over a team many feel to be an up and coming contender seemed real and not a form of false modesty. Sanchez recognized the good things his offense accomplished but this is a kid with the poise and ability to self-explore that will hold him in good stead as his career moves along. He is also incredibly poised for a player who came out of college after his junior year. The bright lights of the big city he represents (no, not Florham Park, N.J.) do not seem to detract from his focus. His teammates are drawn to him, to his infectious attitude and he has the arm strength to make all the throws he needs to make. 

On the other hand, there remains the 100 million dollar quarterback who plays for the NY Giants. Eli, at what point in your career are you going to learn to look off receivers who are surrounded by multiple defenders and either find your second and third options or tuck the ball in and take a quick stroll down the field for a few yards. When you forced that ball towards Smith with triple coverage around him and, the ball on your own 20, there were only two things that could have occurred. Neither of them good. It was going to be either incomplete or an interception. Smith could not have made a catch on that throw unless his arms were 10 feet long but, you forced it in there anyway. This is a rookie mistake, Eli. A pass we expected from you six years ago when you broke in, not this year, Not with your experience, your pedigree, your background, and the hard work you put in every week preparing for each game. We expect Sanchez to make those kinds of “rookie mistakes” as the young, Jet QB acknowledged he will from time to time. Not you, not anymore.

 

One gets the sense watching these two New York quarterbacks that Sanchez, with his unique footwork, quickness, field generalship, vocal leadership, and strong arm, he’s going to arouse fans’ excitement and pull games out when his team had no business winning. He takes the hit when he has to, he applauds his teammates good plays. He plays as if he loves the game. Eli, I know you love the game (I’m almost sure you do) but you don’t exhibit that love with a sense of joy. Yes, it’s a serious business but it’s also a game. Your teammates look to you now for the passion. They’re still waiting to see it on the field. They may be waiting a very long time.

Yes, I understand Eli has won his championship and will forever be a NY hero. But, Eli will never be a player who makes lesser players better than they are. He needs stars around him to perform at their best to be a winning quarterback and, he is not someone who is the clear leader of his team, though he should be at this stage. Sanchez has the “it” factor, of that there is no doubt. After six years at the helm, Manning still doesn’t have IT.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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