We are essentially a week from marking a new era in Jets history. Whether or not Greg McElroy gets the ball for Sunday’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, we have probably seen the end of Mark Sanchez as “The Sanchize”. Mark Sanchez’s ineffectiveness for most of the 2012 season has sealed his fate as it exists.
The major question at this point is, who will Rex Ryan choose?
McElroy came into the game and immediately led the game winning drive against the the Arizona Cardinals. He would have the game winning touchdown pass, hitting backup tight end, Jeff Cumberland, on a roll out, but do little else the rest of the game.
In fact, if you look at the drive, some help came from sources that haven’t been much all year. Bilal Powell had 36 yards on the ground that drive – more yards than he’s had in all but 4 games of his career, and 9 less than his biggest game to that point. Stephen Hill had a catch, always a surprise. Lastly, Jeremy Kerley came down with a juggling catch for a first down.
Nonetheless, the most important aspect of the McElroy appearence is: he actually scored.
While Sanchez led the Jets to two scoring zone drives that Nick Folk failed to convert for field goals, he had also thrown two interceptions, two that were unforgiveable and a third that Chaz Schilens got out-muscled on. And while he made some good throws that his recievers dropped, he couldn’t quite find the accuracy to put together any semblance of a touchdown-scoring drive.
Sanchez, since the injury to Santonio Holmes and during in-and-out nature of Dustin Keller’s health this year, has had few weapons to throw to all year. Many outsiders would struggle to have ever heard the name Clyde Gates or Jason Hill. Shonn Greene at his best has been inconsistent. The Jets are undefeated in games that Greene goes over 90 yards rushing – too bad he has only done that in three games in 2012.
But it all comes back to Sanchez, because franchise quarterbacks have to show some sort of proof that he can raise the profile of those around him, that he can rally the troops, that he can make talent better. Sanchez has rarely in his years played past the skills of those around him and can be only called a game manager thus far. At the same time, he has taken a clear step or two back and is playing barely above his rookie year-level.
So the Jets have a decision to make. A sliver of hope remains to make the playoffs (mathematically…actually they were eliminated when they lost to Seattle), but at this point, the Jets need to see what they have. I called for the Jets to start playing their young guys to see what they have:
I want to see Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight have a shot at running back, because I think the guy playing it has been nothing as advertised. I want to see speedier rookie linebacker Demario Davis get more time instead of the fossilized Bart Scott. I think when healthy, Aaron Berry needs to be seen at corner. With Keller out for the season, the Jets need to see if Jeff Cumberland can replace him once he goes out into free agency. As bad as he has been, with the Jets in salary cap trouble and possibly needing to let go of Brandon Moore, they need to see if three years of letdown has suddenly pushed Vlad Ducasse to learn something. Quinton Coples needs to see as much game time as possible to find if he is a defensive end or linebacker or just 2D defender…
But if I am going to call for that, in a season that I feel is over, I would be a hypocrite if I did not look for what we had at yet another position the Jets have fallen short at this year. He may have a weak arm and a big mouth, but Greg McElroy also has a winning college pedigree and cockiness to fill a mountain. The Jets would be remiss if they did not, at the very least, see if he can sink or swim at the pro level. Tim Tebow likely will be gone next year, so at worst, McElroy could be playing to become the backup of the Jets; and if he somehow is something, maybe the Jets will have found their starting QB.
Those are hopes well above how I feel, but we’ve hit the point where even the biggest of supporters of the Sanchize, I included, have to admit we need to see what someone else could do at QB1. We have to see if Sanchez is just done. We have to see if his weapons were the reason he could not succeed this year. We need to see if the Jets fans’ calls for Greg McElroy were for real.
So weak schedule or not, its time to give snaps to Greg McElroy. Maybe the “Jet-son” can give gang green nation some hope and excitement in 2012.