Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Football Wrap Week 5B: Mark Sanchez and the USC QB Curse

I start this week’s NFL wrap with a proclamation.

Mark Sanchez has thrown for less than 50 percent of his passes in every start this year. His passes were inaccurate Monday night. His decision-making was suspect. At this point, there’s nothing that says he should be keeping his job. But he is because the alternative is a cult hero in Tim Tebow who isn’t much better.

I don’t care if Sanchez went to two AFC title games and has no help around him. He’s not a NFL starting quarterback right now and he’s barely a capable game manager. But to be honest, it’s not his fault. It’s the USC QB curse.

In the 10 years that USC has been relevant, all of their quarterbacks haven’t panned out well in the NFL. Matt Leinart? Mentally wasn’t ready despite his gifts. John David Booty? Barely got any burn. Sanchez is next in line and unless something changes, so is Matt Barkley.

(I’m iffy on Carson Palmer being called a failure. His downward turn was caused by tearing his ACL/MCL in 2005 and hurting his elbow in 2008. I think his career would’ve been on a great track if not for it.)

But USC quarterbacks, it hasn’t been an easy road to the NFL. Considering Palmer or Rodney Peete might have had the best NFL career, that says a lot since Peete was mainly a backup.

I remember watching Sanchez whenever I covered USC . He destroyed Ohio State in their much hyped meeting – still one of the most electric games I’ve been to.
He thrashed Penn State in the Rose Bowl and it seemed like he was the new Golden Boy.

Just like when he was an All-American here in California after he won a CIF championship in 2004. Ironically he wasn’t named Mr. Football – that honor went to DeSean Jackson.

While Mark Sanchez flounders, fellow USC Trojan Shaun Cody is flourishing in Houston. A reminder that USC defenders have fared better in the NFL than their much more heralded offensive counterparts
At this point, Pete Carroll was right when he said Sanchez wasn’t NFL ready. Sanchez made the most of a great situation and a great defense. Now when he’s asked to show what he can do, he can’t.

He’s a great leader but right now he’s not a great quarterback. He’s not the answer in New York and he needs somebody who can help refine his game similar to Alex Smith. Otherwise he’ll be in the pile of USC quarterbacks who didn’t justify their hype.

On to Les Tidbits.

Andrew Luck grew up this week. His first game-winning drive against the Packers. He stared down a suspect defense and he found his way to make plays happen. The best game of his young career. And prayers from the Gumbo to Colts defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano as he battles cancer.

Tom Brady: You know the deal, Peyton. It's business, not personal.
New team, same old story. Peyton Manning’s team still loses to Tom Brady’s team.

Salute to the 49ers for maybe playing the most balanced offensive performance in NFL history. 1st time ever there was a team with 300+ passing yards and 300+ rushing yards in the same game.

Speaking of which, the best division in football so far?? The NFC….West???? All of the teams are above .500 and I’m as confused as you are.
My Cowboys thankfully had the week off after the Monday Night Massacre. But alas, my Chargers found a way to stink up Sunday Night Football with one of those typical gutwrenching losses they have with Norv Turner.

- Gas Face 1? Melvin Ingram. The young rookie negates a pick-6 with a late hit on Drew Brees. Turns a 17-point lead into a 3-point lead when Brees hit Marques Colston with a TD. Terrible, terrible.

- Gas Face 2? Philip Rivers having his best game of the year but two late turnovers. An INT and the game-winning sack/fumble. I don’t even blame him as much because…..

- Gas Face 3? Jared Gaither. The offensive lineman who got burned for the GW sack/fumble. He was hobbling on one leg and because of his pride, he didn’t remove himself from the game on the final drive.

This was a typical Norv Turner collapse. Complete with boneheaded end of game decisions (not burning a timeout sooner on the last drive).  Another reason why it’s hard to be a Bolts fan because they’re bound to lose a game or two like this.

Props to the Saints for scoring 17 points in the second half to win and to former Charger Drew Brees to add extra salt to defeat with his record-setting 48th straight game with a TD pass. But that one hurt.

I end the column with Kansas City Chiefs lineman Eric Winston and his honesty about Matt Cassel being cheered as he left the field. It's real talk about how fans need to see players as people, not property, not replaceable guys in jerseys.


  1. With 150 plus schools sending Q.B.'s to the NFL every year, plus the ones being developed on the roster and at other leagues, how can U.S.C. have a curse silly. that's 10% of the league. If they were not great they would not be starting.

  2. The curse is that none of the QB's became the stars they were in college when they were fully expected to. Carson Palmer was close 5-6 years ago but he hasn't been. None of his successors have even been close and Sanchez is arguably in the bottom 6-7 of QB's. He's starting because Tim Tebow is his backup. Some times guys start because there's no capable backup.