I was going to hold off on this very topic for a few weeks because I think it's a good one and one that will be debated for years. But since ESPN's Tim Graham had to go and make a post for his blog touching on this subject earlier this week, I figured now was the time toss out my two cents on the debate.
First of all, let's be honest. This debate will likely rage for years between each team's fans. Both Chad Henne and Mark Sanchez will very likely be the long-term quarterbacks for their respective teams. And five to ten years from now, we'll know the answer to this question.
All "homerism" aside, I don't know which player will be better. But I feel compelled to at least defend Henne after reading Graham's logic as to why he has Sanchez ranked higher. Apparently it was Mark's performance in the playoffs with the Jets that resulted in Graham ranking Sanchez ahead of Henne. Going a step further, Graham actually writes:
Also solidifying my placement of Henne: While Sanchez got better as games became more meaningful down the stretch, Henne struggled.
Of course, if he actually watched the Dolphins down the stretch, he'd know it was the defense that let the team down - not Chad Henne. Henne's numbers the last four weeks? He completed 67% of his passes (101/150) for 1,031 yards - averaging 257 yards per game. And that is despite playing with what most "NFL experts" - and I use that term loosely - considered a sub-par group of receivers.
What hurts Henne in those last four was his 3:6 touchdown to interception ratio. But he was playing from behind, for the most part, and was forcing throws he should have never thrown.
I think the one other factor that should be highlighted in defense of Henne was his performances against the league's top rated overall and pass defense - the hated NY Jets. Consider that the Jets allowed just 153 yards per game through the air last year with opponents completing under 52% of their pass attempts and posting an 8:17 touchdown to interception ratio.
As two examples of how good the Jets' pass defense was in 2009, take Matt Schaub (led the league in passing yards last year) and Drew Brees (Super Bowl MVP). In their two games against the Jets, those two combined for a total of 356 yards passing, completing just 58% of their pass attempts while throwing for no touchdowns and one interception.
In Henne's two games against that very defense (making just his second and fourth career starts, by the way), Chad threw for 353 total yards, completing 68% of his passes while throwing three touchdowns and no interceptions en route to two wins.
I don't even want to talk stats the whole time, though, because stats never tell the whole story. But when I look at Henne and compare him on film to Sanchez, here's what I see. I see a guy who has a better feel in the pocket, who has a stronger arm, who anticipates throws better, and who throws better when rolling out of the pocket. If Henne can improve his accuracy - particularly his touch - and learn to not force throws into coverage, I don't see how you can tell me Sanchez is/will be better than Henne.
Of course, all of these stats are small sample sizes and comparing their physical talents and abilities is nothing more than opinion. But let me ask you this: which of the two players would you want today to start for you in a must-win situation?