Turn On The Jets ‘Let It Go’ – Mark Sanchez Edition

Chris Gross kicks off a new series at Turn On The Jets: “Let It Go” – This week’s edition focusing on quarterback Mark Sanchez

As anyone who follows the New York Jets knows, whether it be closely or casually, there are certain topics that are repeatedly beat to death by the media, fan base, observers, etc. There are numerous issues that seem to be debated back and forth, over and over again, without either side making much progress for the sake of their argument. In this new series here at Turn On The Jets, we will touch upon the topics that fans, media members, and anyone who talks about this team, simply need to let go of. For our inaugural edition of this series, we take a look at why the Sanchez debate has become an enigma and simply needs to stop.

sanchez draftJets fans and Mark Sanchez have, to put it nicely, one of the most interesting relationships a fan base and quarterback can possibly have with one another. Upon entering the league, Sanchez was beloved by this fan base for his confidence, relatively exciting play, and most of all, his promise. After years of marginal-at-best quarterback play, Jets fans finally had something to hope for when New York traded up in the 2009 NFL Draft to select Sanchez with the 5th overall pick. Sanchez joined with the newly hired Rex Ryan to give the green and white faithful new life, after having hopes and dreams of a deep playoff run in 2008 shattered by Brett Favre and a torn bicep.

Sanchez and Ryan started off with a bang in 2009. 3-0 out of the gates, highlighted by a week 2 victory at home over the New England Patriots, where Ryan’s defense held Tom Brady and company to just 9 points. Following the hot start, the roller coaster began. New York followed with 3 straight losses, the worst coming in a week 6 overtime loss at home to the Buffalo Bills, a game in which Sanchez threw a career high 5 interceptions. It was to be expected that a rookie quarterback would struggle, but it can certainly be argued that this is the point where fans began to distrust Sanchez as the savior they had hoped for him to be just a few weeks prior.

The ups and downs of Sanchez’s play continued throughout the 2009 season before the team got hot at the tail end of the year and made a memorable run all the way to the AFC Championship game. After nearly upsetting the Indianapolis Colts and getting to the Super Bowl for the first time since Joe Namath upended that same franchise 40 years prior in one of the greatest upsets in NFL history, Jets fans were again hopeful for what was to come out of Sanchez and Ryan moving forward.

2010 was an extremely promising season for the fan base. Sanchez improved upon his turnover plagued rookie season, and again, led the Jets, with the help of a strong running game and Ryan’s stellar defense, to just minutes from a Super Bowl appearance. Improvement at the position had hopes high entering 2011 for the Jets. Finally, it seemed, the USC product would get over the hump and take the reigns the way the Jets needed him to in a quarterback driven league.

2011 was Sanchez’s best statistical season. 32 total touchdowns (26 passing, 6 rushing), and a career high in yards and passer rating. Yet, the inconsistencies began to become maddening with Sanchez also throwing 18 interceptions and fumbling 4 times, as the Jets sputtered out from their previous seasons of success and finished just 8-8, capped off by the infamous Miami meltdown. Adversity had come to an all time high for the Ryan-Era Jets and his once highly promising quarterback. The talent was clearly there for Sanchez. No one accounts for 32 scores in the NFL without it. But could he eliminate the mental errors and protect the football in order for New York to be consistently competitive? 2012 would be a season of high pressure and scrutiny for the golden boy from California. How would he handle the newly developed criticism, from all followers of the team?

For Jets fans, they hoped and wished that Sanchez would do what Eli Manning did when he was beginning to be written off after 3 years of relative inconsistency. However, Sanchez did just the opposite. 18 interceptions and 9 fumbles later, Sanchez became a punchline, rather than a ray of hope.

Buffalo Bills v New York JetsBlame can be put on the GM for not providing enough ammunition for the quarterback to succeed. Blame could be put on an incompetent offensive coordinator. The bottom line, however, is that when the going got tough, the once hopeful franchise quarterback wallowed in self-pity. The confidence from 2009 and 2010 was gone. All Jets fans can see now is the guy who hung his head, repeatedly, after committing turnovers. The player who famously butt fumbled. The quarterback who simply did not rise to the calling when the franchise needed him to the most since he was drafted. Patience among the fan base for him to turn the corner and join the highly regarded quarterbacks of the league ran out.

Is it unfair for the burden to be placed primarily on Sanchez? No. This is the NFL. It is a league of quarterbacks. There is no secret about it. Cleveland’s Brandon Weeden seemed to relate directly to the situation with his comments from Browns’ practice on Monday when he said that quarterbacks are praised and criticized in correlation with the team’s success. It is simply the nature of the league and the position. Winning, Weeden said, is the cure for everything. Throw touchdowns and win football games and you’re the toast of the town. Commit turnovers and lose games, and nobody likes you as a player. It is just the way it is.

Recent reports of Sanchez being booed at the Green and White scrimmage for throwing an interception, then cheered for hitting WR Stephen Hill for a beautifully executed long TD pass are a microcosm of that reality. In a recent story by the New York Daily News, Sanchez seemed surprised at the fact that he was booed one minute for an interception, and then applauded for throwing a touchdown. What he doesn’t seem to grasp is that this is a performance based business. Perform well and you will be praised. Perform poorly and you will be criticized. There is nothing more to it.

There seem to be myths circulating around this fan base and within certain parts of the media that fans want Sanchez to fail; that no matter what he does, it will never be enough. That is false, as displayed clearly by the cheers he received for executing that pass to Hill. Nothing makes fans of this league forget poor play faster than success.

edwards MMIt is ignorant to think that the franchise wants Sanchez to fail. What the franchise wants is one of the two quarterbacks in this competition to step up and become a leader of men, someone who can will this team to success. The Jets have taken strides this offseason to upgrade the talent on offense around whoever the quarterback may be. The offensive line has been upgraded. Talented running backs have been brought in. A familiar face at WR has been brought back. A proven offensive coordinator has been hired. Are any of these guys big named, studs right now? No. But with the team’s monetary situation, due largely in part to the contracts given to Sanchez and offensive players who were supposed to be a big part of his growth (Holmes, Ferguson, Mangold), new GM John Idzik did what he could with limited resources to help bolster the offense for the short term.

There is no more waiting for Sanchez to turn the corner. The inconsistencies have taken their toll on this fan base. With a promising rookie waiting in the wings, it is now or never for Sanchez. Call it classless. Call it rude. Call it whatever you want. The fact is, these players are on a large platform. Scrutiny comes with the territory. The time for coddling has passed. As Al Davis famously said, “Just Win, Baby.” That’s all there is to it.

Author: Chris Gross

Chris Gross is a Staff Writer and Head NFL Draft Editor who is a graduate of Union College where he obtained a degree in history and captained the football team as a defensive end. Doug Brien is the only grown man to make him cry. Chris will assist me in leading our Jets and NFL coverage along with leading our 2013 NFL Draft coverage. He will also run the site when Editor-In-Chief Joe Caporoso is unavailable.

  • joeydefiant

    There is a large portion of the fan base that are crude assholes. It’s a game. It’s entertainment.
    It’s fact that no matter what Sanchez does some will still hate him. Haters gonna hate. BEER + NEANDERTHAL + FOOTBALL STADIUM = IDIOCY

    You can defend these idiots threatening people wearing #6 jerseys, throwing beer and stuff, chasing fireman ed out, and acting like morons all you want. They are still morons. I understand. You need these morons to click on your website…

  • joeydefiant

    That article about idiot Jets fans was the first article in the Daily News by Manish Mehta I agreed with in years.

  • Worldboy90

    What seems to be forgotten was that even the beginning of the 2012 season, before everything collapsed, Sanchez was doing pretty well given his resources. He helped absolutely destroy the bills, found a way to beat the dolphins, and had us in the games against the Texans and Patriots. Patriots game especially, without that ill-timed Stephen Hill drop that’s another fourth quarter come-back and win under his belt.

    We also seem to forget that our best offensive weapon and best defensive player were out for almost the whole year. It got to the point where Sanchez was throwing to a double team kerley, a very raw Gates, Hill, and Cumberland. He was basically playing with very good UFL players towards the end of the season. Keller was out half the year, and injured the other half. I mean realisitcally, we had a historically awful offensive weapons for Sanchez.

    I get it, he crumbled under pressure, especially after the New England debacle. But who wouldn’t? Were do you see the light after you get absolutely emberassed on national television, and you know the cavalry isn’t coming. I also hate this argument that Sanchez is an average Quarterback at best. Give Sanchez the Raven’s weapons and I say he out plays Flacco. Hell, look at Josh freeman. The kid had Vincent Jackson, Mike Williams, and the Muscle hamster and still couldn’t crack a 60% completion percentage.

    The Sanchez hate is based on the fact he’s not a miracle worker. He is no Peyton Manning. But he is in an incredibly difficult situation given the talent level. The guy has won a lot of big games though with marginal talent though. People like to talk about 2010 like we had a top ten reciever core. What did Cotchery or Braylon do after they left New York? Became fourth and fifth recievers on the depth chart. I’d even argue Santonio is not really a top twenty reciever. Sanchez has done a lot of great things with limited weapons and shoddy play-calling. Give him a break, he’s delivered arguably two of the best Jet’s seasons in the last twenty years or so, both his first years in the league, with really limited talent.

  • Worldboy90

    Erhm note*: Sorry for the grammar errors. Kind of just pumped it out and posted it.

  • KAsh

    With respect, I have always disagreed with William James and his views of pragmatism. While thoughts and ideas do not shape the present, they definitely shape the future. Thus, having arguments without apparent progress does result in change down the line.

    Now, I agree with you that performance matters and that Sanchez has to blame himself. But then you get several things mixed up.

    Sanchez was coddled by his coaches, not the fans. His coaches felt a reason to protect him from the media. The NY media – ESPN, the News, and the Post – succeeds in a very large market because it knows how to write to those who care, the fans. (Mehta’s article is great in that sense: he saw a split in the fanbase between those that cannot wait for Sanchez to fail and those that can no longer stand these people.) Jets fans boo and criticize their four-year starter at QB any chance they get, even in practice. As you yourself admit, they passed judgment on him in all of six weeks. The NY Jets media channels the views and opinions of NY Jets fans, which is why the team felt that it had to shield its quarterback from people that should otherwise be supportive.

    I do not see what the myth is. There is a segment of fans that clearly dislike the starting QB. They harass people who support him, even when there was no other legitimate option available. They boo. Booing, whistling, and jeering are done to distract, usually the other team or the refs for a bad call. Booing Sanchez = trying to get him to fail. It is classless. It is rude. And it is self-defeating. Because a segment of the Jets fans are masochistic and they regret any success by the team.

    The main core of fans are motivated by an inferiority complex. They have lived under the shadow of the Giants, who were better than the Jets even when they were playing badly. Their whole relationship with this team has been about explaining why it sucks. This is their lifestyle. They are the guy around the water cooler that entertains people with stories of his team’s suckiness. They do not know how to give a struggling QB support – their idea of support is repeatedly saying “well, he needs to get his shit together and win games/protect the ball/become a team leader” as if he somehow forgot about that – and they do not even want to support him. They lose their narrative. They no longer have interesting things to say if the team becomes like the Steelers this past decade: perennial playoff contenders with an equally competent offense and defense but rarely go all the way. It is much more interesting to be a fan for a team that is horrifically bad.

    They are not all the fans, just a particularly vocal segment, just like not all Christians are fundamentalists. There are those that still cheer for TDs. But suggesting that the fans that booed (an extremely negative emotional state) and those that minutes later cheered (an extremely positive emotional state) are the same fans is to think that everyone in the stands at Cortland had Bi-Polar Disorder. Cheering fans go quiet when the team does badly; booing fans do so when the team does well. They are two different people, that cheer for the same team, except the booing ones are losers.

  • KAsh

    Sorry, a faux pas. That “cheer for the same team” should be “are fans of the same team.” My bad.

  • Mark Phelan

    I tend to be a critical fan. Not because of Giant jealousy – I couldn’t care less about them, but because I invest a lot of time and intentions in their performance….I think about them, read about them, root for them.

    I do not go crazy when a Jets player makes a mistake…or when they draft a dud with an early round draft pick. I know mistakes are made.

    What infuriates me is when after looking forward, with high hopes, to Sunday all week long I see the same scenario play out.

    It is going to take time to turn this ship into the wind. I hope Idzik is the man to do it.

  • Paul

    @ worldboy90 @ Kash @ Phelan great post each of you read my thoughts. I look forward to this season but as a true Jets fan I don’t expect much. This keeps me sane and makes that SB victory sweeter. I just want to add my two cents and I believe it boils down to the owner. I hardly read anything concerning the owner woody. He bought this franchise solely to make money and his decision making intentions shows how little he cares about winning a SB he just wants to keep stadium seats full. Look at other successful franchises and you find an owner who hires winners and then steps away and doesn’t hire friends and kiss asses. I don’t expect much from the Jets not because they don’t have the potential but because they don’t have an owner who puts his all into their success(Kraft,Steinbrenner,etc…. )I hope for the best, dis pit this but ultimately nothing will change till things change starting from the top to bottom including fans willing to pay big bucks filling seats to mediocre franchise. All Jets fans want is some bragging rights after years of disappointments and should haves. I for one look forward to that day but can’t help be pessimistic. Well that’s enough ranting Go Jets till the end. J E T S Jets jets jets!

  • Angel

    Love the comments here!

    I think I’ve been pretty vocal on this site about how much I hate the majority of my fellow Jet fans, but this site gives me hope. A few observations:

    1. A lot of Jets fans are certainly rooting for Mark to fail, if only to say, “I told you so.” These are your typical Jets fans that absorb and regurgitate the negative nonsense routinely dished out by Cimini and Mehta. They’ll boo Sanchez as he runs out onto the field before he runs a single play. AND, MARK MY WORDS — They’ll boo him when he throws a TD… you’ll see.

    2. The fans are not bi-polar but some of the same fans that booed Mark’s INT cheered his TD. Why? Cause Stephen Hill caught it and Marty called it. They can simultaneously boo the QB and cheer everyone else. NOT all the fans, but most of them.

    3. I don’t think you can emphasize enough that Mark Sanchez had VERY little support the last couple of years, and it got consistently worse during his tenure. T-Bomb did not value the O-line AT ALL and it deteriorated into a butt-fumble — YEAH I SAID IT — Brandon Moore was getting manhandled and tossed into Mark like he was on roller-skates and deserves EQUAL credit/blame for that debacle. AND, don’t get me started on the WRs. Tom Brady would not have played worse than Mark Sanchez if he were the Jets QB then, but you know what… he wouldn’t have played significantly better either!

    Personally, I think Mark’s time here is over, no matter how well he plays. He’s the next Alex Smith. There is no way the NY media makes amends, and there is nothing Mark can do will win the MAJORITY of idiot Jets fans back in his camp — because NO ONE is PERFECT.

  • Nikolas

    Sports in general attract a lot of psychopaths and the Jets fan base will have its own. There is nothing you can do about it, other than denounce them for what they are.
    Jets fans were cheering when Pennington – a class act and the bravest of players- was injured on the field!!

  • David

    @Paul, I would love to shake your hand for bringing up Woody Johnson. I remember back during the Presidential campaign where he made a comment about that he’d rather see a Mitt Romney win over a Jets victory. When I saw that, it made me sick to my stomach. If that is your belief Woody, then sell the Jets to someone who cares about winning football games.

  • Angel

    @David – whatever your political leanings, I personally think it’s sobering to see someone put country first over business. What if he said he’d rather see Obama win than a Jets victory? What if he said, “I’d rather see America restored to greatness than a Jets victory.” OR, how about an extreme example… “I’d rather see a cure for cancer than a Jets victory.”

    @Nikolas: That was my breaking point with Jets fans – the disrespect shown for Pennington got me revved up ‘in the red.’ I put the Jets fans towards the top of worst fans ever… just below the Pats fans and Eagles fans.