And Possible Future Replacements
There are no more reasons. There are no more excuses. There are no more stats. There are no more playoff victories to look at.
Lack of talent around him no longer matters.
No, Sanchez was tasked with one thing to do: Protect the ball long enough to beat three more bad teams and make the playoffs. He could not do that.
If the Jets make the playoffs, perhaps excuses can be made, other heads could roll. We could look at getting an actual talent at wide receiver has the fixer. Can say he just needed Shonn Greene to finally show up (he still doesn’t have a single regular season run over 40 yards in his career). That he just needed to regain his confidence to be the “Sanchize” again.
But they won’t. Sanchez’s terrible decision-making last night in Nashville against the Titans sealed his 2012 fate, and quite possibly his career in New York. Four interceptions in the most important game of the season – throwing into triple coverage on first down! – and then fumbling away the ball after the defense miraculously got the offense the ball back deep in Titans territory will do that to you.
He had a 32.6 QB Rating, worse than Tim Tebow, who threw one incomplete pass.
I have defended Sanchez to the ends of the Earth for the past year. No more. There are only so many chances you can get to turn it around.
So that’s all. There are tons of issues with the Jets and they must be fixed, but the first one they can do right now and that is to bench Mark Sanchez and go with another QB.
As this is being written, it is reported that Greg McElroy will be starting Sunday, vs. the Chargers. This is the right choice. As much fun as it would be to have Tim Tebow as our quarterback, he is not a long-term answer.
Neither is McElroy. He could surprise us, but starting him at least allows the Jets to see what they have in him and if he can be, at the very worst, a backup in the NFL.
Either way, we know what we have in this Sanchez, and it is not a player worthy of playing for this team anymore this year.
So where do the Jets go from here? Here are some possibilities:
Vick will be released before his roster bonus takes hold after Nick Foles has wrestled away the starting job. He will be out on the market with plenty of teams still frothing to take another chance on his talent.
This is a classic Woody Johnson target. He is flashy, he is popular. He is another ESPN favorite.
But he is also a dog killer and former criminal. While he has paid his dues in prison, this is not a signing the Jets can afford. The bad press they will continue to get for taking a chance on a guy like this is not worth getting the back pages for a few days. He is no longer a future answer, seemingly having even less healthy years remaining than when the Jets traded for Brett Favre.
Smith has become the exact QB a Rex Ryan system needs – he takes care of the ball and makes very few mistakes.
Smith has had an interesting career to say the least. Until he hooked up with Jim Harbaugh, his career was a disaster. Think Sanchez has been bad? Smith has been replaced by the likes of Shaun Hill, Tim Rattay, Trent Dilfer, Chris Weinke, J.T. O’ Sullivan, and Troy Smith.
Under Jim Harbaugh, he has been one of the highest ranked QB’s in the league; he was third in the NFL in QB Rating this year before his benching.
But if he were to come to the Jets, is Rex Ryan a coach that could rein in him quite the same?
Smith has also been supported by one hell of a run game in San Francisco. If the Jets are still committed to Shonn Greene, Smith will never have that foundation in NY.
One other issue that could be the same with any veteran quarterback: players like he and Vick will have contract demands well higher than the Jets’ cap can hold.
Coming into relief twice this season for Robert Griffin III, Cousins has shown he can win in the NFL.
Mike Shanahan was lambasted during the draft for “wasting” a second pick on a QB after taking RGIII, his franchise QB of the future. Little did anyone know, he got a QB that could come in relief for a starter that may be injury-prone with his style.
At the same time, he also got a QB that could be traded for higher picks in the future.
Jake Delhomme to the Panthers, Matt Schaub to the Texans, and other backups have been traded for much higher value in the past to teams that wound up being very successful with them. Considering the Jets’ monetary concerns, perhaps this is the way they go, especially with the knowledge that he can play a bit in the NFL, showing it as a rookie.
Of course, this also means they would have to give up quite a bit in the draft. For a team that will need to rebuild and make changes at many positions, taking away draft possibilities and depth could set them back even longer.
And if the Jets cannot support their next QB as they failed to for Sanchez, none of this conversation will be worth it, because they will be making the same mistakes again.