I've been sitting on writing this article for a few days. I wanted to think this decision over, I wanted to contemplate what this decision meant for the Jets today, next week and next season, I also wanted to think about what this decision means for Rex and Mike Tannenbaum if it backfires, which I think it will.
In May of this year, after a season in which he was constantly one of the worst Quarterbacks in the league - the New York Jets decided to extend Mark Sanchez's contract, including $20.5 million in guarantees for 2012 and 2013, his five year total package of $58.25 million gave Sanchez at the time the 7th highest financial package among NFL QB's.
Some will likely say that they did it to open some cap room for 2012, Sanchez's cap hit dropped from $14.25 million to $7.85 million, unfortunately in 2012 it never looked like we would compete so the empty space created this year isn't as appealing considering it guaranteed Sanchez's two years for a grand old total of $20.5 million. Rewarding a player for underperforming is baffling, then again not when it comes from the Jets.
Rex has dragged his feet making a change at Quarterback for several weeks, last week after Sanchez came out throwing some balloon balls and the whole offence looked like they were still groggy from a deep sleep, he had no alternative. With Tebow inactive, it was down to Greg - maybe it's the cynic in me, but I don't think Rex Ryan ever had the intention of playing Greg for longer than the time he had against Arizona. He doesn't have the backing like Tebow, insert him...he won't do much, the fans will see Mark is the only real QB on the roster and I get to maintain my golden boy.
I don't think that Rex ever expected the fans or the offence to react in the manner in which they did, the lineman were getting off the snap quicker, the receivers were running tighter routes, the running backs were grinding out those extra yards and bouncing back up again. Then there was Greg, he looked in control and showed urgency. He only threw the ball 7 times but completed 5 and showed zip. From those five passes he looked off defensive backs, and delivered the ball on time. He was moving out of the pocket and as easy a throw as it was, he still delivered the game winning touchdown.
Unfortunately I think it was completely unexpected, so Rex had to at least sit on the decision for a couple of days. He needed to give the impression that there was a 'decision', however In my mind and from Rex's reluctancy to make a move previously, I don't think there ever was a decision. He wanted Sanchez to start from the moment the game ended, the only decision he had to make was when to reveal it to the media.
Luckily for Sanchez he is going to come up against one of the worst defences in the league, a team who can't pressure the quarterback, can't defend the pass or the run. It's the perfect game away from home. Unfortunately if we want to put a Quarterback in an easier environment where you can manage a game, it should be Greg and not Mark. People continue to say to me that Mark gives us the best chance to win, against Jacksonville? perhaps! for the rest of the season? potentially, longterm? he's not the answer and he has shown why.
This for me is a classic case of a bad decision leading to a bad decision, the contract extension we gave Mark Sanchez was a bad decision. He didn't earn it, it sent the wrong message to the team and it tied us to him for 2013 at least. The decision to start Mark Sanchez this weekend is in connection with that contract extension, we can't carry a 2nd string QB on his wage next year, Rex is trying to back-up Mike Tannenbaum's decision to give Sanchez the extension in the first place.
The truth is though, Mark probably will have a good game this weekend. Jacksonville is a terrible team, a team that even Mark should be able to make plays on. If he does, after the game we will hear the usuall hyperbole about how he bounced back, how a half on the bench put his starting spot into perspective. People will continue to say that he has 'potential' and he showed that by coming back against the Jaguars, all this will last until we play a team that disguises some coverages, a team that can get pressure on the Quarterback, it's a broken record, it's a continues message on a loop, unfortunately nobody in the organization seems to hear it.
I feel sorry for Greg McElroy, he came in and did the job. He completed the passes he needed to complete, he controlled the clock like he needed to and he drove us to the win. Now he's sitting back on the bench. The culture around this team is warped, people who deserve to play don't, people who don't do. Shame!