Picked off in the Prime of his Life
Let’s just cut to the chase here: it has been a brutal month and a bit, for the New York Jets. The two loses in those four nights gave them an uphill climb for a playoff berth, just at a time when it had seemed a sure thing. Today’s win over the Bills was a start back. But it was not convincing.
For the past three years, followers of the AFC East have tuned into the CBS TV coverage, and have heard all about the greatness of the New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, whether we want to or not. The analysts referred to him as “San-Chize”, the man who would turn the lackluster Jets’ fortunes around. He was the second coming of Joe Namath. Now we’re reading stories about a possible quarterback conflict in the Big Apple, and how coach Rex Ryan has used new methods of motivation (Mark Brunell taking first team snaps), and a re-assurance will that Sanchez will be the starting quarterback for as long as he’s coaching there.
The Jets drafted Sanchez with the fifth overall selection in the 2009 Draft. He left college early after losing the Rose Bowl with USC. Yet they made him the first quarterback selected by the Jets in the first round since Chad Pennington. For that pick, the Jets had traded their first and second round picks and three players, Kenyon Coleman, Abram Elam and Brett Ratliff, to the Cleveland Browns. At the time, the agreement was considered a good value for the team, and for Sanchez. He reached an agreement with the team, signing a five-year, $50 million contract, with $28 million guaranteed. It is still the largest contract the Jets have signed a player to in franchise history. In his first year, he threw 20 interceptions, backing into the playoffs thanks to the good fortune of playing two teams that had already clinched a playoff spot, and were sitting their regular players.
he Jets opened the 2010 season with a 5–1 record however, the passing game was not good, as Sanchez struggled to throw the ball accurately. This was attributed to his off-season patella ligament surgery on an injury that had occurred at USC. At 10–4, the Jets faced the Chicago Bears on December 26 with a chance to clinch a playoff berth. Though Sanchez injured his shoulder in a victory over Pittsburgh the previous week, he started the game completing 24 of his 37 passes for a touchdown and a interception. However, the Jets were unable to defend the Bears’ offense and lost the game 38–31 after a comeback drive was halted when Sanchez was intercepted. (notice how that word comes up A LOT when Sanchez is discussed) However, once again, due to a loss by Jacksonville, the Jets clinched a playoff berth. Sanchez finished the season with 3,291 yards, 17 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, but had backed into the playoffs both years, thanks to the help of other teams. He has never been able to do it himself. The sports media gave him a pass on criticizing him, as it was his rookie year, and then an injury. They also gave him him the excuse of “needing time to learn to play the “NFL game”.
Turn the clock ahead two and a half years. At the halfway point of this year, he’s on pace to match his interception high that he set in his rookie year. How do you like Mr. Sanchez now New York? I know the Jets won today, but through the entire game, there was the sense that everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, from the announcers, to the fans, to the mascot, to the popcorn vendors, were awaiting his eventual collapse. The collective sigh of relief that came out of MetLife Stadium today following the final whistle, could have caused a possible Tropical Wind warning on the entire East Coast.
I’m tired of him. I know Jets fans have to be tired of him. It’s like being a Mets fan and just waiting for his eventual implosion. I’ve lived that too many times. Coach Ryan turned to a motivational ploy this week to spark Sanchez. He gave backup quarterback Mark Brunell first squad reps with the starters in an attempt to light a fire under his young “saviour”. Ryan did the same thing last December after the Jets lost two games in a row. Months later, Sanchez told GQ magazine he wanted to fight Ryan for doing it. “I know Mark Sanchez extremely well,” Ryan said. “I know how tough, how [much] fighting spirit he has. If it takes me to do this and take a punch in the nose I don’t care. I’ll do it.” … Sanchez said he was not mad but gave very short answers about Ryan’s move. “I guess maybe last year it did [motivate me],” Sanchez said. “That’s Rex’s deal. I don’t know.” That’s not exactly the most positive workplace to go to everyday. This year it ended up in a win. He threw for 3 TD’s and one INT. The interception was crucial though, as it eventually led to a Bill’s touchdown. Hmmmm, there’s the word “interception”again.
As a fan of the NFL, and sports in general, I do not like having mediocre (at best) players “pushed “ upon us because they play in a major media market like New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago. I don’t want to be told they are gerat. I need to see the proof. Sanchez has been pampered his entire football life. He’s been consistently told how great he is. Week after week he gets to read his own press. Sadly, I think he’s starting to believe it. I hear Tim Tebow being lambasted every week because of the way he plays. His record as a starter is now 5-2. That means he’s won one less game than Sanchez this year, and has started three less games. While Sanchez doesn’t kneel and pray after a scoring play, Tebow’s only thrown one INT this year.
The Jets are going nowhere with this kid. I think the “boos” raining down on him during today’s game were a start of the Jets’ fan rebellion. His coach is a loudmouthed blowhard, who has done nothing except beat the Patriots in one playoff game last year. He’s part of the problem, not the solution. The Jets need to start focusing on the future. If Sanchez is going to be the starter as long as Rex is there, maybe it’s time to take a look at a coaching change, swiftly followed by a change at the pivot position. Ownership needs to get the Jets back to some semblance of respectability. If not, they’re going to be spending a lot of time in the shadow of the stadium-mates, and lurking back in third place in their own division.
(I just got called for “encroachment’ I don’t know what it involves, but I am intrigued.)