There have been several significant events in the Jets’ universe over the past week that revolve around the quarterback controversy that has embroiled the team since Tim Tebow was acquired last spring. Each event seems to speak of where head coach Rex Ryan sees his three quarterbacks—Mark Sanchez, the aforementioned Tebow, and Greg McElroy.
First, we find out that Tebow remained active for the Thanksgiving night contest against New England—over the healthy third-string McElroy—despite having a pair of cracked ribs.
Tebow ended up not even playing a snap on offense or special teams.
Second, was the aforementioned “contest” against the Patriots, which was virtually over when New England put up 35 straight points in the second quarter on their way to crushing the Jets 49–19 and handing them their fourth loss in five home games—including three by no-doubt blowouts.
And third was Monday’s non-news out of Rex Ryan that no changes were in order at quarterback. In fact, he didn’t even have to answer the quarterback controversy question as the accepted response has almost failed to become non-newsworthy—Ryan’s not benching Sanchez anytime soon.
In fact, he’s actually past the point of making such a change. Why would he now?
If there were such criteria before the season started of what Sanchez would have to do to be benched, he surely has met and passed (with flying colors) each and every bullet point, yet has still remained the starter.
Let’s see: Jets in last-place, two-thirds of the way into the season? Check. Sanchez near the bottom of the league in almost every passing statistic? Check. The Jets, as a team, near the bottom in nearly every offensive statistic? Check. Jets nearly out of playoff contention with five games left, largely due to a punchless offense? Check. McElroy looking better than Sanchez in the preseason? Check. Tebow looking good in his limited time on offense? Check.
Yet Ryan hasn’t replaced him. What other criteria could there be?
To recap, the 4-7 Jets are tied with the Buffalo Bills for last place in the AFC East and they’re nearing playoff elimination. In fact, even if they win out the rest of their games it might not be enough to catch Pittsburgh or Cincinnati, which they trail by two games for the final playoff spot.
Sanchez has actually upped his quarterback rating to 75.6—good for 30th in the league out of 35 qualifiers—after putting up some decent numbers in the second half of the New England game when the game was already over. Meanwhile the Jets’ slow-starting offense ranks 28th out of 32 teams in total yards at 310.7 per game and has put the defense in many a spot.
It’s Sanchez-or-bust right now and the Jets are splitting at the seams.
Though it’s not always fair to blame an offense’s problems on one person—as former offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer can attest to—the quarterback position is easily the most influential on the field. They announce the plays in the huddle, they call the audibles at the line, and soon they become the natural leaders of the team.
But after three-and-a-half season of seeing Sanchez struggle with the individual numbers—before also struggling with the wins/losses since the end of 2011—it’s become apparent to many observers that a change couldn’t be any worse than the status quo.
Ryan though clearly has his own unknown criteria for what events will constitute a quarterback change and it doesn’t look to be happening anytime soon. It’s Sanchez-or-bust right now and the Jets are splitting at the seams.
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