New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan will likely announce a decision on his starting quarterback within the next 24 hours. There have been various reports on who prefers who in the Jets hierarchy, but at this point who can really trust any sources from this organization?
We know this much, it isn’t going to be Tim Tebow. Rex Ryan, Mike Tannenbaum and the entire coaching staff have never shown a hint of interest of giving Tebow a major role and that isn’t going to change now. This was 100% a PR trade and at this point, it is almost an act of defiance and protest by everybody not named Woody Johnson to keep him on the bench. Tebow will never start a game here, may never play another snap again here, and without question will be let go this off-season.
This leaves the decision down to Greg McElroy and Mark Sanchez. From what I can tell about 95% of the fanbase wants McElroy to start because the backup quarterback is always the most popular guy in town and he did provide a needed shot of energy to the Jets huddle on Sunday. Outside of that, there is a reasonable argument to give him the ball for the final four games of this disappointing season.
Considering how Mark Sanchez looked on Sunday from the opening snap and his general play throughout this season, it is fair to surmise that he is mentally finished as a quarterback in this market. Doesn’t Rex Ryan have to hold his players accountable for porous play on the field…especially his quarterback? You can’t watch the game tape from the past two weeks and say Sanchez gives the Jets a very good chance to win. Simply put, he is playing like a bottom three starting quarterback in the league right now and could jeopardize four very winnable games down the stretch for his team.
McElroy looked decent enough in his first NFL action and could be a viable contender for a starting job next season. The only way the Jets will find that out is by giving him a chance here. His arm strength is suspect but at a minimum, it is fair to expect relatively smart, mistake free football from him which could be all the Jets need to finish 4-0 and keep themselves distantly relevant in the playoff race into week 16 and week 17.
On the other hand, Mark Sanchez is owed over 8 million guaranteed dollars from the team next season. Unless they want to take a massive cap hit, he is likely going to be on the roster next year. He is a former first round pick who has been successful here, no matter how much certain people want to act like it never occurred, shouldn’t you give him every last chance to turn it around…particularly in a generally meaningless final four games? If there is a place to build somebody’s confidence back up, it is on the road the next two weeks against awful Jacksonville and Tennessee defenses. If you permanently send him to the bench here, is there any way he is viable competitor to start next year or do you just accept a 8 million dollar cap hit or spending that on a backup?
People are going crazy for McElroy but is there any reason to believe his ceiling is anything higher than “game manager?” Are the Jets in such a rush to usher in another era of that type of football or will they finally look to do better than that at quarterback? If McElroy plays okay down the stretch and the Jets finish well, the team can’t be blinded by that and must still bring in veteran competition for him.
There is an argument for both sides at this point despite the fan’s angst towards Sanchez. It is a critical decision that could ultimately seal the fate of Rex Ryan, Mike Tannenbaum and Tony Sparano which is what should make these next few days and upcoming game especially compelling.
Ultimately my prediction is that the team will cave to public sentiment and go with McElroy. The Jets will finish winning 3 of their last 4 or maybe even running the table behind generally average play from him. They will try like hell to move Sanchez in some way this off-season (probably failing) and whether he comes back or not as a “competitor” for the starting job with McElroy and a veteran add on will depend on their desire to stomach such a large cap hit for a player not on the roster.