|Where did it all go wrong? (This is a rhetorical question.) (Getty Images)|
Like it or not -- and, yes, we know, many of you hate it -- Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow will be inextricably linked this season. And as such, we plan to chart their ups and downs from one week to the next in something we're calling Sanchbow: Chronicling the Jets' QBs in 2012.
Every week we wonder how things can get worse for the Jets, and every week coach Rex Ryan comes up with new and exciting ways to ratchet up the ridiculousness.
This time, in a 7-6 squeaker over the also quarterback-less Cardinals, Ryan, after weeks of repeating that Mark Sanchez gave the Jets the best chance to win, finally benched Sanchez after another typical Sanchez-tastic performance. But here's the plot twist: backup Tim Tebow was inactive Sunday because of a rib injury, which meant that former seventh-round pick Greg McElroy was summoned from clipboard duty to save the Jets from themselves.
There's a new Tebow in town. (Click to enlarge)
We have our own little conspiracy theory about how all this transpired (and this theory is based on nothing other than our imagination running wild): after Ryan spent months propping up Tebow but knowing full well that he's not a capable, consistent NFL quarterback, he couldn't just dump Sanchez for McElroy without having to face more scrutiny than he already does. This wasn't a problem on Sunday with Tebow on the sideline in civvies.
The great irony, of course, is that if the Jets didn't trade for Tebow this spring, none of this would be an issue. In fact, if Ryan chose to bench Sanchez weeks ago, he could've turned to McElroy or Drew Stanton (whom Ryan had promised a chance to play before Tebow-mania swept through Florham Park). And given the way Sanchez has played -- not just this season but in 2011 -- Ryan would've met little if any resistance.
Instead, here we are; the Jets are somehow 5-7, have a legitimate quarterback situation (we refuse to call it a controversy) and it doesn't even involve Tebow. Ryan said Monday that he's not yet ready to name a starter but word on the street is that he's leaning toward McElroy. A source with knowledge of the situation told CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora that it's about 65-35 in McElroy's favor but noted that Ryan was to meet with general manager Mike Tannenbaum about the issue on Monday night. Tannenbaum moved up to draft Sanchez in 2009 and will pay him a guaranteed contract of $8.3 million in 2013.
(This is where we point out that this week's Sanchbow column should be renamed since, you know, Tebow's more likely to end up on a milk carton than the field. "SanchElroy" is the obvious front-runner although we could make a case for "McElchez" since it appears McElroy could get the start this week.)
The New York Daily News' Manish Mehta reports Tuesday that owner Woody Johnson prefers that McElroy start against the Jaguars on Sunday, while Tannenbaum and offensive coordinator Tony Sparano want Sanchez under center.
Maybe the biggest revelation is that Johnson wasn't stumping for Tebow. Six weeks ago, Sanchez had the owner's full support. But more than that, Johnson said Tebow would be in New York for the life of his three-year contract. If that's true (and we doubt it), what's he going to be doing, Jets goodwill ambassador?
Sanchez isn't without his supporters, even if they don't come with sterling reputations. Former Jets wideout Braylon Edwards took to Twitter to blast the organization that created the mess.
“Don't blame Sanchez," Edwards tweeted (via CBS New York). "I played there. Blame the idiots calling shots. Mark is a beast and will (prove) it when given a proper chance.”
Sanchez has had plenty of chances in New York, and we're still waiting. This isn't entirely his fault, of course; Ryan and Tannenbaum have created an atmosphere that fosters doubt, promotes mayhem and Sanchez has been caught in the middle. Also not helping: Tannenbaum struggling to put together a roster.
But here's the thing: through all the Sweet Valley High drama and weekly nonsense, the Jets still have a shot to backdoor their way into the playoffs. It sounds preposterous, we know, but they're currently eighth in the AFC behind the Bengals for one of the six playoff spots. Take a look at their final four regular-season games: at Jacksonville, at Tennessee, San Diego, at Buffalo.
Going 4-0 seems seems perfectly possible … until you remember that the Jets don't have a quarterback. And, unlike the 2009 and 2010 squads that made it to the AFC Championship Game with Sanchez under center, this team doesn't have a defense -- or, hell, Fireman Ed. Just Ryan, Tannenbaum and a huge circus tent.
This sums up Sanchez's 2012 season: he threw one of the worst interceptions you'll see -- even by Sanchez standards -- on the Jets' first play from scrimmage. Never mind that he airmailed his intended target by a good 20 feet or that he thought it was a good idea to throw the pass from his 13-yard line while off-balance and falling backwards. If you were wondering what it takes to get benched for McElroy … this wasn't it. Sanchez threw two more interceptions before Ryan mercifully pulled the plug.
|Sanchez is on his heels as the throws. It goes out of the frame above and well over the head of his intended target, right into the arms of former Jets safety Kerry Rhodes. Or, as Rex Ryan once called him: "selfish." Ryan could use more selfish players like that. (FOX)|
Tracking Tebow McElroy, Redux
We spent many, many, many words last season on the Phenomenon that was Tebow and we could very well end up doing it again. ("Tracking Tebow" was supposed to be a preseason feature because coach John Fox told everyone that Kyle Orton was the Broncos' starter. That lasted a month. At this point, we wouldn't be surprised if Tebow eventually earns the Jets' gig and is subsequently named head coach, owner and NFL commissioner.) For now, we'll just update his progress from one week to the next until the inevitable happens.
This tweet, after McElroy's first drive, pretty much says it all:
#RL Greg McElroy's first pro drive: 10 plays, 69 yds, 4:53. McElroy on drive: 2-for-3 for 9 yds, TD,1-for-3 rush, 15-yd pendrawn on ARZ.— New York Jets (@nyjets) December 2, 2012
He finished the day 5-of-7 for 29 yards, 1 TD and 0 interceptions. See, it's not that hard to be just an average quarterback. Next stop: playoffs!
Eye on Sanchbow SanchElroy
|We have seen the future, and it's not pretty. (US Presswire)|