The New York Jets found themselves having to deal with a quarterback controversy this week after Mark Sanchez imploded on Sunday versus the Arizona Cardinals. Greg McElroy performed well in limited action, sparking a Jets win and making a real push to start at quarterback this week. In the end, Rex Ryan announced that he will start Mark Sanchez this week. Is it a mistake?
Heading into this season, supporters of Mark Sanchez as the New York Jets starting quarterback were hopeful that he would become a consistent performer. Mark Sanchez has always been streaky, alternating hot and cold spells that send mixed signals about his future as an NFL quarterback. For those invested in the Jets as a fan or member of the organization, it's easy to want to believe in those positive flashes because of the team's investment in Mark Sanchez. both in terms of the high draft pick and the financial commitment.
It's almost impossible to argue in favor of Mark Sanchez at this point. Say whatever you want about lack of talent around him, that doesn't excuse the amount of turnovers he has produced this season. Sunday's game was a perfect example of that. Mark Sanchez didn't just throw three interceptions – he nearly threw two more and was completely incompetent. The lack of improvement in ball security and decision-making is disturbing for a fourth-year starter.
Of course, some will argue that Greg McElroy didn't do a whole lot in terms of big throws on Sunday. True, but he did infinitely more with seven passes than Mark Sanchez did with 21 – and did nothing to hurt the team's chances of winning, while Mark Sanchez almost single-handedly sabotaged the effort of the defense. Whether you prefer ESPN's QBR or the traditional quarterback rating, Greg McElroy was rated over 90 points better than Mark Sanchez in either stat.
But now, by deciding to start Mark Sanchez, Rex Ryan and the Jets might be setting themselves up to be fooled once again. With a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars this week, and a weak schedule to end the season, there's a good chance that the Jets win three or more games to finish out the season. If that happens, they would be obligated to enter next season with mark Sanchez as their top quarterback.
It's a sad story about financial commitment trumping on-field performance.
Yes, the Jets will almost certainly be stuck with Mark Sanchez on the roster next season because of the contract extension they gave him. That's fine, but the reason for the contract extension was to get a definitive sink-or-swim answer on their quarterback. He has shown nothing that suggests progression, and still exhibits many signs of stagnation as a quarterback, and even some regression.
With that answer in hand, now is a great chance to take a real look at what Greg McElroy and/or Tim Tebow can offer as a starter. Sticking with Mark Sanchez could keep the team from getting any kind of definitive answer on the other two quarterbacks on the roster, which could set them back when it comes time to move away from Mark Sanchez permanently. That time is coming.
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