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NFL Preview: The Difference Between Matthew Stafford And Mark Sanchez

Bernie has a column today about Steven Jackson's importance in Sam Bradford's rookie season, and I don't think he's overstating matters very much in his conclusion, which might as well say, "It's really important, unless you're a big fan of Joey Harrington." 

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But his lede comparison, between Detroit Lions no. 1 pick Matthew Stafford and New York Jets Star of Stage and Screen Mark Sanchez, shows just how much of that importance will be about perception. Matthew Stafford got knocked around all year and kind of forgotten; Mark Sanchez reached the playoffs and played pretty well. But they both had almost identical regular season numbers.

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Sanchez threw 12 touchdowns and 20 interceptions and completed 53% of 364 passes. Stafford threw 13 touchdowns and 20 interceptions and completed 53% of 377 passes. The difference is that Sanchez could hide behind the Jets' heavily utilized running game—he threw 13 fewer passes in five more starts—whereas Stafford couldn't even hide behind his offensive line. 

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Sam Bradford won't be able to hide behind anything except everybody's extremely low expectations for the St. Louis Rams this season. But if Steven Jackson can shoulder the offensive load for another season on his balky back a spotty season from Bradford could become a certified Promising Rookie Season, even if it's the same one he was going to have anyway. 

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