Earlier this morning, New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan informed his team that he has decided to stick with embattled quarterback Mark Sanchez against the Jacksonville Jaguars this week. This news, is coming off a game against the Arizona Cardinals, in which he went 10 for 21, was sacked and intercepted three times, then benched in favour of Greg McElroy, who had never played an NFL snap.
The controversy arose when McElroy threw a touchdown pass and the led the Jets to a 7-6 victory. While many have praised McElroy’s efforts for his performance given his lack of preparation, it’s important to remember that McElroy only completed five or his seven passes for 29 yards and the touchdown pass was to a receiver with ten feet of open space. Even Bill Belichick could have completed that pass.
But this quarterback controversy is a three-headed monster, with the third being the insanely popular Tim Tebow. The reason Tebow did not relieve Sanchez is that he was ruled out for the game with broken ribs. It could be argued that the only reason Ryan benched Sanchez in the first place was that Tebow was unavailable. If the same sequence of events had occurred with Tebow under centre instead of McElroy, there would have be no going back. The media would have gone crazy and deciding to start Sanchez instead of him would trigger an avalanche of fan outrage .
Luckily for Ryan, McElroy does not carry the same amount of fanfare.
When analysing Ryan’s decision, while it may not be popular he likely made the right decision from a football and financial standpoint. The Jaguars are one of the worst teams in football and nothing improves someones confidence more than whipping an inferior team. Additionally, the game is an away for the Jets which means there won’t be any boo birds out if the Jets don’t start fast.
The major issue is the financial side. The Jets owe Sanchez $20.5 million over the next two years whether he’s on the field or sitting at home. Owner Woody Johnson, like most owners, values his money and he won’t want to pay Sanchez to sit on his couch. To make sure they don’t throw away money they must see if Sanchez can offer a glimspe of hope, either to them or another franchise.
While it may not be popular among fans, the Jets have no other option. We may find that Mark Sanchez is who we thought he was. Or he may surprise us. A coach putting faith in a struggling player can only boost their confidence and for the Jet’s sake, they better hope that Sanchez responds. Greg McElroy may prove to a adequate NFL quarterback, but he is not an All-Star player and he likely never will be.
If Sanchez doesn’t prove himself, the Jets will find their quarterback situation in a very shaky spot. The next few weeks will determine not only Sanchez’s fate, but the New York Jets quarterback position in general. If he fails, don’t be surprised to hear a quarterback drafted by the Jets this April.