No Change of Pilot on This Jet: Sanchez Gets the Nod to Start
Added by Justin O'Connell on December 7, 2012.
Despite being pulled late in last weeks game, Mark Sanchez will be the starting QB for the Jets this Sunday. (Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE)
How many loses and inexcusable turnovers does it take a coach to make a quarterback change?
Apparently for Rex Ryan seven loses and 18 turnovers (4th most in the league) are not enough for his likening. Remember the likes of Joey Harrington and Kyle Boller, both of whom were first round busts that were given 3-4 years to succeed, but they flat out could not. It appears that Mark Sanchez might be at that point in New York, his struggles this season have placed him 32nd out of 34 quarterbacks in quarterback rating.
“I just think when I looked at everything, the biggest thing that I kept coming back to was what I had mentioned before about who gives us the best opportunity to win, in particular, this week. When I kept coming back to that, I believe the correct answer is Mark Sanchez. With that being said I do understand that he has to play better,” Ryan said.
Ryan still believes that Sanchez “gives us the best chance to win” and that the QB’s contract had “absolutely zero” to do with his decision. Yeah Right. When GM Mike Tannenbaum and Ryan convinced the Jets ex-coach, Eric Mangini, to swap first round picks with them to land the highly coveted USC quarterback, they made their deal with the devil. When selecting a quarterback that high in the draft fails, it can devastate a team for years and cost both the GM and coach their jobs.
Why the Jets gave/guaranteed Sanchez all that money no one may ever know, but they did and now they have to suffer from their consequences. Ryan made the safe decision in keeping Sanchez the starter because benching him would mean that he does not believe that he gives them the best chance to win. This would not only crush Sanchez’s confidence, but it would mean that the Jets are looking to head in another direction.
Ryan does not know if Sanchez’s confidence has been shaken. “I’m not sure, you’ll have to ask him that. I will say this, sometimes you learn from when you’re put in that position, when somebody goes in and sometimes it’s as easy as you step back and see somebody else in that role,” said Ryan.
Everyone will find out Sunday, when the Jets play one of the worst teams in the NFL, if the benching helped Sanchez or not. If he cannot perform well against the Jacksonville Jaguars, then Ryan will have no choice, but to make the change to either Greg McElroy or Tim Tebow. Sanchez will be on a very short leash on Sunday and rightfully so because of the way he has played lately (five turnovers his last two games). Rex has acknowledges that he has no problem pulling Sanchez if he continues his poor play.
“Absolutely, if (he struggles). But again, I don’t want to play the what-if games. But obviously, I made that decision for a reason the last time and that’s with any player,” Ryan said.
Sanchez for the first time in his NFL career knows that his starting job is not guaranteed anymore. He will be playing for his job from this point on and he will have to win it game by game, because if he plays poorly and the Jets lose one more game, than the Jets QB will have a different face. It is his job to lose at this point and nobody is rooting for him harder than his head coach. Because of the money he will be back next season, but it is not certain that he will be the starter.
“It’s my job to play the way I know how. These last couple of weeks, and certain stretches of the season, I haven’t. It kind of culminated there on Sunday and hopefully that’s the end of it. I think it is. That’s the way I’ll approach this next one,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez’s job is one of the hardest in football. He plays in New York, is constantly compared to Eli Manning, his offensive coordinators have not worked to his advantages, and he has absolutely no skilled receivers to make plays for him. All of this stress compiled with the possibility of losing your job is enough to break any man, but that is simply the way things are in New York and if you cannot deal with it then they will find someone else who can.
Is that someone else Tebow or McElroy? No one knows until they get their shot and that is why many were angered by Ryan’s decision to start Sanchez this week. Both McElroy and Tebow have a history of winning (in college), more so Tebow in the NFL, but regardless one of them may get a chance by the end of the season or maybe even the end of the first half this week.
“To tell you the truth, I had no expectations. Being completely honest, I had no expectations whatsoever. I knew that Rex (would make the right decision) and we all trust Rex to do what’s best in the best interest of the team and I think we all believe that he has done that,” McElroy said.
It appears that both Ryan and offensive coordinator Tony Sparano do not want Tebow as their starting quarterback as their lack of creativity has turned Tebow into nothing more than a distraction. His broken ribs were probably a blessing for the coaches as they were able to play McElroy instead and he proved he could get the job done against an upper tier defense. This will mean that if Sanchez is pulled, McElroy will likely get the go over Tebow. Ryan has not announced who will be the backup, but you can bet that Tebow’s name will get chanted in his hometown this weekend.
“I have a lot of family and friends who will be there. Jacksonville will always be a special place to me. It’s where I grew up and where a lot of my family still calls home. It will be a lot of fun,” Tebow said.