If Jets sign David Garrard, would he beat Mark Sanchez for starting job?

Rick Stewart

Could David Garrard best Mark Sanchez in a quarterback battle if the New York Jets bring him in?

By now, you've likely heard that the New York Jets have worked out 35-year-old free agent quarterback David Garrard. It's been reported that the Jets liked what they saw from Garrard, with Adam Schefter suggesting that the Jets just need to "work through cap issues," before being able to sign the quarterback.

But to what end are the Jets actually bringing in Garrard (again, provided they do sign him). Let's assume that Garrard is healthy and that the Jets get him signed to a deal prior to training camp and all of that (which seems likely). Is he there to backup incumbent starter Mark Sanchez, or is he there to compete?

Last season, the Jets traded for then-Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, with the idea that the fan-"favorite" Tebow would light a fire under Sanchez and motivate him to play at a high level. Unfortunately for them, that didn't work out at all.

Sanchez fell flat,Tebow attempted a whopping eight passes, and Greg McElroy actually took the starting job from Sanchez briefly, before going down with an injury. Now, the Jets are back where they started, as they're looking to get rid of Tebow and have Sanchez as their starter, seemingly by default.

What's so interesting about Garrard coming in and possible competing is that he hasn't thrown a pass in the regular season since 2010. Could a 35-year-old quarterback with that much rust on his arm actually compete with the guy who was a first round pick just a few years ago? Let's take a look at the stats.

First, a brief look at how totally inept Sanchez has been in recent seasons.

Last season, Sanchez played in 15 games, and threw for 2,883 yards, and had the second-worst completion percentage of his career at 54.3 percent. Aside from Andrew Luck, who had many other redeeming qualities to offset his poor percentage, Sanchez was the worst in that regard (not counting either Chad Henne nor John Skelton, who did not play full seasons).

Sanchez has never posted a completion percentage above 56.7 percent, which was his total in 2011. He also threw 18 interceptions this past season, against just 13 touchdowns. Usually, it's touchdowns against interceptions, but when you're talking about Mark Sanchez, that's not the case.

To put it into perspective, Sanchez threw the same amount of interceptions in 2011 (18), but half the touchdowns, as he had 26 touchdowns in 2011. But even worse than all of this is the fact that Sanchez had 14 fumbles on the season.

He's just not good at protecting the football, and he's not always pressured into dropping it. He's been known to run right into his own players and drop the football, including the center who snaps it to him. It's a horrible stat and there's really no excuse for it.

Under Sanchez, the Jets finished the 2012-13 season with a 6-10 record, including three-straight losses to end the season. The bar has not been set very high when it comes to replacing him, that's for sure.

So what about Garrard? He hasn't thrown a pass in the regular season since 2010, but has impressed NFL teams since then. He missed the 2011 season with a back injury, but was poised to be the starter for the Miami Dolphins in 2012, before he injured his knee and missed the entirety of the season.

Garrard had won that quarterback job prior to the injury. Of course, his health is a concern, but if those two injuries can be overcome, then we have only Garrard's past stats to look to for comparison to Sanchez in a theoretical quarterback battle.

For one, Garrard has never thrown for a sub-60 completion percentage since receiving real playing time in 2006. On top of that, he's never thrown for more interceptions than touchdowns in his career, outside of the 2002 season in which he only played in four games.

Garrard does have one standout season in which he threw 18 touchdowns against just three interceptions, along with a 64.0 completion percentage, but that was back in 2007 with the Jacksonville Jaguars. How about his most recent season?

In 2010, Garrard played in 14 games and completed 236 of 355 passes, good for 2,734 yards and a completion percentage of 64.5. Those numbers are far better than anything Sanchez has done since entering the NFL. On top of that, he threw 23 touchdowns against 15 interceptions.

It's generally overlooked, but Garrard was pretty good for the Jaguars for the majority of his time spent as a starter. He was never going to make those eye-popping plays, but given the almost constant possibility of self-destructing when Sanchez is under center, getting a guy like Garrard could be a nice change for the Jets.

But don't just take my word on it. The guys over at Gang Green Nation put it very simply:

I think it probably says it all that a 35 year old who has not played in a game since 2010 is one of the best free agent options for the Jets. That is where we are, however. If he is anything close to the player he used to be, Garrard should be able to beat out Mark Sanchez for the starting job and be able to avoid that catastrophic turnover that has doomed the Jets so frequently the last few years.

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