Stat line: 13/29, 109 Yards, 1 interception – 39.9 QB rating, 44.8 completion percentage
Season stats: 63/128, 813 Yards, 5 touchdowns, 4 interceptions – 69.6 QB rating, 49.2 completion percentage
Last week, I joked that I wouldn’t abandon the format of this particular article. Well today, I’m not in a joking mood. To try and pin down individual moments in this game would be skirting a more pressing issue: the fact that Mark Sanchez might be less than a month away from his last action as a New York Jet. Seriously. It’s time for a good, old-fashioned rant. So as The Joker once said: here…we…go!
Let’s get some things out of the way in as few words as possible. Mark Sanchez had a snowball’s chance in hell at succeeding this year. Everything the Jets did in the wake of last season’s meltdown set this quarterback up to fail. The contract extension rang hollow, because days earlier, the Jets got very publicly into the Peyton Manning sweepstakes. Then they traded for Tim Tebow. Then, as we tore days off the calendar in March, and April, and May and June, we wondered, will the Jets address their needs? Are they really going into this season with one proven NFL weapon in Santonio Holmes? What about depth at running back and tight end? Was Wayne Hunter actually going to see another snap on Sanchez’s offensive line? Mike Tannenbaum’s negligence on the offensive side of the ball is a fireable offense.
All of that said, Mark Sanchez has been 50 shades of awful. In the modern NFL, completing less than 50% of your passes one time is bad enough. To do it three weeks in a row is unconscionable. It was both laughable and painful watching other teams around the league executing in the passing game with such ease. The 49ers are talented defensively, but as our own Chris Gross Tweeted last night, it would be nice to root for a quarterback that fans don’t need to make excuses for every week. Brandon Weeden kept the Browns competitive, on the road, against a good defense on Thursday night. Ask yourself: could Mark Sanchez have done the same?
The Jets have absolutely no rhythm or tempo on offense. Sanchez’s fundamentals have gone into the toilet; everything that looked picture perfect about his play in week 1 has all but evaporated. He was intercepted on a screen pass. When receivers got open (a rarity), he missed them, and not just by inches, but yards. The sack-fumble at the end of the first half is the kind of mistake that happens to a first or second year quarterback. Unfortunately, Sanchez is in his fourth season.
And really, that was the moment that changed things for me. Look back through my archives on this website. I have defended Mark Sanchez endlessly; his triumphs were always vindicating, his failures always a result of his inexperience, or a lack of execution by his teammates. In the end, what separates truly good players from the below-average ones, at any position in any sport, is consistency. I’ve made the case that I never believed in Shonn Greene because if you look through his game logs, he has almost never played two good games in a row in his career. If you apply that logic to Mark Sanchez, you can draw the same conclusions. The flashes of brilliance have too often been evened out, and now weighed down, by performances like Sunday’s.
Make no mistake, I am not calling for Tim Tebow (he should be released or traded immediately). After all, the quarterback of a modern NFL team needs to be able to throw the ball consistently. He needs to be able to make his teammates better. He needs to show command of an offense. I refuse to comment on Sanchez’s demeanor; in-game, post-game, whatever. I have no idea what the man is thinking or feeling. But what he showed on Sunday was that he is simply not improving as an NFL quarterback, and that he may even be regressing. What’s my conclusion? That the answer to the Jets’ problems at the sport’s most important position may not be on the current roster. I hope I’m proven wrong in the coming weeks, but after yesterday…
I’m officially out of excuses.