Isaiah J. Downing/USA TODAY Sports

Broncos QB Mark Sanchez Is In A Lose-Lose Situation

Many fans don't realize just how tough Mark Sanchez has it. Whether he fails or succeeds in Denver, Sanchez is in a lose-lose situation.

When Mark Sanchez looks in the mirror at the end of the day, the image of Brian Griese stares back at him. Looking back at history, people will remember that Griese was a high-round draft pick that would be thrust into action during 1999-2000 season after the Denver Broncos won back-to-back Super Bowls.

There was also a quarterback who played his last snaps here by the name of John Elway, and he would leave a permanent shadow that all future players who line up under center in the Mile High City would be forced to reckon with. 

“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

Fitting and prophetic words when it comes to Mark Sanchez taking his first snaps with the first team offense this preseason. He will be following in the shadows of “The Duke” and “The Sheriff”—John Elway and Peyton Manning, respectively. 

The Orange and Blue faithful the world over are not going to let Sanchez forget it. In much the same way that Brian Griese entered that ‘99 season, Sanchez will be walking a similar path this year, if he is named the starter over Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch.

Both Sanchez and Griese followed Hall of Fame quarterbacks coming off of Super Bowl win and both will be judged harshly from fans and pundits alike.

When Sanchez is asked about the competition at quarterback this year he responds as professionally as possible. After a recent practice this is what he had to say,

“Just stay consistent, continue getting completions and keep having fun out there. Keep leading the guys.” He also talked about what he would need to do to win the starting quarterback job this season.

“Everything you do in practice and everything you do in a game, it’s all that," he said. "Everything you put on film is important, It’s not just one game, one series or one play, it’s your entire body of work.” 

When the trade with Philadelphia was consummated, Sanchez arrived in Denver full of optimism. It would have been wise on the part of Sanchez to look up the reaction that Bronco fans had to Brian Griese during that fateful 2000 season. It definitely would pump the brakes on that exuberance. 

Griese was a target for the fans’ ire early during ‘99-‘00 season, as the team under his direction would start off 0-4, and eventually finish at 6-10, not making the playoffs. It seemingly didn’t matter to the fans that he had played admirably and managed to throw for 3,000-plus yards, while at the same time losing league MVP Terrell Davis to a knee injury early in the year.

The criticism of the young quarterback ranged from not having enough arm strength to being too aloof with his teammates and, most notably, not being mentally tough enough for the position. 

Griese may not have been blessed with a cannon for a right arm, but he was accurate, and aside from his first year starting, never had a completion percentage below 61 percent during his tenure as the Broncos starting quarterback.

Teammates would praise his leadership as he put on a gritty performance in a road win against Oakland, finishing the game with a blood-stained jersey suffered on a dirty hit that would cut his chin wide open.

Griese would show his toughness against the Raiders; this time at home when he would lead a game-winning drive, despite suffering a separated shoulder earlier in the game in a contest the team needed to win to push for a playoff spot. 

Those moments were inconsequential to Broncos Country. They were still too closely connected to Ol’ No. 7 and everything he had done for this franchise. Griese was like a 7-11 clerk that was robbed during the graveyard shift—he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

In much the same way, Sanchez is walking into a situation where the memories of Peyton Manning won’t be that far removed from the minds of so many Bronco-fanatics. 

Conversely, Sanchez’s play over the last two preseason games is not doing him any favors or winning over fans. An amazing touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas on the opening drive against Chicago is quickly forgotten after an ill-advised throw on a bootleg gets picked off. After a solid start Saturday night, Sanchez would wilt under the surprising pass rush of the San Francisco 49ers, losing two fumbles in the redzone. By Sanchez’s own grading criteria of having fun and putting together a respectable body of work, it does not look promising to expect to see him suit up against Carolina on September 8. 

The only way Mark Sanchez will escape the negativity and criticism this upcoming year will be to lead the team to another Super Bowl title, no easy feat for any starting signal-caller in the NFL. If he’s the starter on a team that goes 11-5 and loses in the AFC Championship game, it’ll lead to a clamoring for Paxton Lynch to put the team over the hump, while Sanchez would be shown the door.

If Denver starts the season 3-6 with Sanchez at the helm, the howling will start early and be persistent for the equally-untested Siemian or Lynch to right the ship. 

Sanchez is in a lose-lose situation. Even if he does well this year, he was acquired to keep the seat warm for Lynch to take over next year. If he does poorly, he probably never gets a chance to be a starter for another team.

For the sake of this year’s Denver Broncos, Mark Sanchez will need to remember how to be the quarterback who led two modestly talented New York Jets teams to the AFC Championship game and not the turnover machine he has been thus far. 


Adam Uribes is an Analyst for Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @auribes37.

Follow Mile High Huddle on Twitter @MileHighHuddle and on Facebook.

To get instant Broncos notifications, download the NEW Scout mobile app for iOS HERE!   


Mile High Huddle Top Stories