It's official, Mark Sanchez. You can start worrying.
That's not because the New York Jets stink or because Sanchez seems to be getting worse, not better, with each season -- or even because of this week's firings of the team's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Nope, it's because of what we just heard from coach Rex Ryan and owner Woody Johnson in their first public comments since the Jets' season unraveled.
And what we just heard was no voice of support for the beleaguered Sanchez.
That doesn't mean Ryan or Johnson knocked the guy. They didn't. But they didn't come to his rescue, either, and they were given plenty of opportunities.
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Instead, they hemmed and hawed, saying that Sanchez's contract wouldn't guarantee him a starting job next season, with Ryan talking more than once about "a new beginning" and insisting that "we'll play the player who fits what we do best ... what gives us the best chance."
It wasn't just that Ryan declined to name Sanchez his starter. It was more because his comments were made after telling listeners how much he wanted to change the Jets' identity on offense, make them more unpredictable and less Ground-and-Pound; make them an offense that opponents would find hard to peg and difficult to defend, and while that's great, tell me how that plays into Sanchez's wheelhouse.
Because it doesn't.
If there's one thing we learned about Mark Sanchez the past two years it's that he can't shoulder an offense, that he needs to be more of a caretaker than a flag bearer because ... well, because he simply makes too many mistakes.
He committed 26 turnovers this year; he committed another 26 in 2011. No quarterback had more the past two seasons, and that would suggest if the Jets were to keep him as their starter they'd dial things back and return to what they did best when he arrived in 2009. Namely, beat opponents with defense, a physical running game and a conservative offense that minimized mistakes.
But that's not going to happen. At least, Ryan said it wouldn't, and if that's sounds like a warning to Sanchez it's only because it is.
Look, normally when coaches look for new coordinators they try to find assistants who bring with them schemes, styles, philosophies, whatever, that best suit the quarterbacks in place ... but that's not what's going on here.
In outlining what he wants from his next offensive coordinator, Ryan seemed to be drawing up a plan for somebody other than Sanchez. I mean, wide-open, attacking, aggressive-style of play is not what I think of when I think Mark Sanchez. Yet that's what Ryan wants from his next coordinator, and that's not exactly a vote of confidence in Sanchez.
It's more like a warning.
"When we look for a new offensive coordinator," Ryan said, "I want somebody with the same type of belief I have, that same passion, that same energy, that same attack mentality, unpredictability, on offense that I would have as a defensive guy.
"My first year I came in here and talked about an all-weather offense. The 'Ground and Pound' mentality only came with the type of players we had ... and that fit our football team. [But] I want to be more of an attack style of football team, whether it's running the pistol or different types of offense. As hard as we are to attack defensively, I want to be the same way on offense.
"I can tell you this as I look at it: We're going to be a dangerous football team. I can promise you that. You're not going to want to play the New York Jets. I know the mentality we're going to take."
Terrific. Now tell me what that has to do with Mark Sanchez.
Ryan declined to speculate on Sanchez's immediate future, saying he wanted an offensive coordinator and new GM in place first, but since when has Rex Ryan been cautious about anything he believed in? From the moment he stepped inside the team's Florham Park headquarters he made bold and outrageous statements, including how much he believed in Sanchez.
Heck, he even has a tattoo of his wife in a Sanchez No. 6 jersey.
But I didn't hear those bold statements on Tuesday. Instead, I heard a coach and owner reluctant to make commitments to their quarterback. Once, they were asked if they were OK with Sanchez being benched -- especially with him guaranteed $8.5 million in 2013 -- if that's what the new offensive coordinator and GM wanted.
It was a simple question, and it demanded a simple answer. Yes or no. Instead, they responded that money wouldn't be an issue.
"So, then," Johnson was asked, "the quarterback position is wide open going into training camp?"
"Every year there's competition among players," Johnson said.
"When you look at it right now," he added, "there are things we need to do first. We need to get an offensive coordinator in place. Then we'll address it from there."
I think they just did.