DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 17: Quarterback Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York Jets reacts after failing to convert a third down against the New York Jets at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on November 17, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Jets 17-13. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Some kids are so smart that they can pick up math without the help of a teacher. Some will never pick up math no matter how good their teacher is. Many kids, however, have the potential to understand math, but the quality of their teacher determines how successful they are. That is also true of quarterbacks. There are people like Peyton Manning who would probably be great no matter what. There are others like Kellen Clemens who would not be good no matter what. There are many more who have the tools, but their development depends on the quality of instruction.
Nobody can say for sure whether Mark Sanchez is the long term solution for the Jets at quarterback. What is clear is that he probably needs a new mentor if he is ever going to be. As with any student who is struggling, part of the fault is probably the student's, and part is probably the teacher's.
While we can debate in which proportions to divide the blame, it seems clear the Mark Sanchez/Brian Schottenheimer relationship should be near its end point. Sanchez has not developed the way the Jets or their fans were hoping. Perhaps Sanchez will never become that guy. We can only find out with a change. Neither the coordinator nor the quarterback look very good right now. It is going to be a lot easier to find a replacement as an offensive coordinator than it will be to find a new quarterback, though. Just about every good proven quarterback is unavailable for a reason. Going to a rookie in the Draft pretty much sets the Jets back to where they were three years ago. Sanchez has shown signs of major promise in his career. There seems to be something there ready to blossom with the right instruction.
It is difficult to see Schottenheimer providing it based on his work with previous quarterbacks in New York. Getting rid of him will not solve the problem by itself, but the problem cannot likely be solved as long as he is employed by the Jets. Things seem off.
His play calling is an obvious target for criticism, but there seem to be deeper issues with the way he is training Sanchez. I will give you one example where you can connect the dots. Remember how Sanchez held the ball too long in Baltimore? What did the Jets do at practice the next week? They installed a buzzer that went off in practice when Mark held the ball too long. Have you noticed how rushed Sanchez has looked when holding the ball in the pocket since? The buzzer seems to have him overthinking things. Notice how much better he is when he is either running play action, on the move, or in a hurry up situation? He is not thinking. He is playing. He sets himself. He is more on target.
This is one example of larger problems. The first is that the coaching staff seems to let something blow up into a catastrophe before addressing it. Sanchez has had ball protection issues all year going back to the opener against Dallas. It went uncorrected until it cost the team two touchdowns against the Ravens. More than that, there does not seem to be any attempt at teaching. The Jets could have taken a more thorough approach. They could have really broken down for him where he should look first, what he should do if that doesn't happen, and how he should handle the ball if nothing is there to teach him how to play the position. Instead they went for a gimmick that cured the symptoms and not the disease and created a new problem in the process. It seems to be a trend going back to the color coding situations from his rookie year.
After investing three years in his development, Sanchez will probably be back in 2012. If they want to see what they have, a change is necessary. He needs a new voice.