Matt Cassel vs. Mark Sanchez

EDITOR'S NOTE: This posts uses advanced statistics. For an explanation of DYAR and DVOA, click here. For an explanation of WPA, click here. For an explanation of EPA, click here.

During my box score tonight's, I keep claiming that Matt Cassel is the best former USC quarterback currently playing in the NFL. Over the past decade, Pete Carrol has produced many first round quarterbacks and top tiered, highly rated talent. Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, and Mark Sanchez all led USC to great years and were all taken within the first 10 picks of their respected drafts. But despite all this, the best QB was one that didn't even play a snap in college: Matt Cassel.

Now some of the reason Cassel is the best USC QB is by default. Carson Palmer looked amazing early in his career and looked like he was fully worth the high draft pick. But after destroying his knee in a playoff game and taking a year off to recover, he just doesn't look like the same quarterback. And I will still defend Matt Leinart but I'm sad to say it looks like his development has been too stunted at this point for him to succeed. The only real chance Leinart ever got was in his rookie year and I will never judge how good a QB truly is in his rookie year- despite the flashed of greatness we have seen from Leinart.

But Mark Sanchez still has a shot. I saw many of his games early and he looked good. He looked like he was making great decisions and making many accurate passes, but his receivers have probably the worst hands in the league. Sure he makes a lot of short passes, well guess what, not everybody can be Peyton Manning. Plus, the few long bombs I've seen him throw (especially to Braylon Edwards) he's looked pretty darn good doing it.

I said I won't fully judge a QB based solely on his rookie season and I certainly will take the fact that Sanchez doesn't even have two full years under his belt. But what that being said, this is a debate on who's the best USC quarterback RIGHT NOW.

We'll start off with the basic statistics. In five less games from 2010 to 2009, Mark Sanchez has thrown 3 more TD passes (12 to 15) and 14 less interceptions (20 to 7). He's increased his TD% by 136% and decreased his INT% by a whopping 262%. He currently holds a 2.14 TD/INT ratio- and anything over 2/1 is commendable and respectable. Cassel's biggest problem, like Sanchez, last year was interception. He threw 16 touchdown, but just as many interceptions. In five less games Cassel has thrown two more touchdowns (16 to 18) and 12 less interceptions (16 to 4) from 2009 to 2010. Cassel currently is fourth in the league in INT% (considering he only has FOUR interceptions on the year) and has a 4.5 TD/INT ratio- more than double that of Sanchez.

Somewhat frustrating is Sanchez's completion percentage. You always like to see a QB improve as he plays more games and a critical part of a QB's game to develop is his completion percentage. While it did go up slightly (53.8 to 55.1), it's still not close to being ideal (at least 59-60%). Versus Cassel who also had a mediocre comp% last year (55%) and raise it up to where it should be this year (59%).

My initial thought for this was because Sanchez has some pretty bad receivers from a catch rate perspective. Edwards has a 51% and Holmes has a 54% of the year. But Dwayne Bowe also has a 54% catch rate. Jamaal Charles has a 71%, LT has a 68%, and Thomas Jones has a 56%. All pretty much the same across the main receivers and backs which tells me the completion percentage of the quarterbacks is mostly the result of the quarterbacks and not the receivers.

Currently, Cassel has more touchdowns, less interceptions, and a better: completion percentage, passer rating, and yards per attempt than Sanchez with essentially the same sack percentage. Although Sanchez does have more yards. And more attempts.

Now onto the advanced stuff! We're getting kinky now. Matt Cassel is 13th in DYAR (essentially total value) and 14th in DVOA (essentially value per play). Sanchez is 18th in DYAR and 25th in DVOA. I think you can make your own conclusions about what this means. Where Sanchez does beat Cassel is in clutchiness. Sanchez has a 2.32 WPA and a 31.2 EPA versus Cassel's .75 WPA and 59.3 EPA.

Lastly, its helpful to look at offensive lines. Drastic differences in offensive line play can greatly affect a QB's play. You can chalk up a lot of bad stats to poor offensive line play. It's hard to throw the ball effectively when you have a guy in your face constantly. But luckily for us, Kansas City has the 9th ranked passing offensive line and the Jets have the 10th this year. Even more reason to think these players' numbers are the result of their true talent right now and not some other, outlier factors.

So who is currently the best USC QB playing the game? Matt Cassel. You can see this cat Cassel is a bad mother- shut your mouth! But I'm talking about Matt!