|Sanchez threw four interceptions Monday. (AP)|
They've given him time. Four years worth of time. They've given him money. Way too much money -- money that will make it awfully difficult to cleanly dump Sanchez into the free agent pool in the offseason. They've watched him help the Jets to two-straight AFC title game appearances in his first two seasons, and they've grown excited about the possibilities of him leading New York to the Super Bowl.
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Instead, Sanchez has gotten worse. As has his team. And even when he got in a rhythm and completed a couple of nice passes in a row in New York's 14-10 loss to the Titans on Monday, Jets offensive coordinator Tony Sparano inexplicably sends in Tim Tebow to run around and gain a first down or two before Tennessee smartened up and forced a punt.
Either Sanchez plays terrible or his team stops him from playing well. He can't win -- literally and figuratively.
It's beyond time for the Jets to go with somebody else. Draft somebody in the early rounds in 2013. Sign a free agent in the offseason. Hand the team over to Greg McElroy, who after leading the Jets to a win two weeks ago has been inactive the past two weeks. Let me repeat that: McElroy, the hero against the Cardinals in an absolute abomination of a game, has fallen back behind Tebow on the quarterback depth chart.
But damn it, do something, because if Rex Ryan survives this season (and even if he does, I don't see how general manager Mike Tannenbaum can save his job), he can't continue to run Sanchez out on the field every week.
Look, Ryan has been commendable in his loyalty to Sanchez for the past two years (though there might have been a crack there when he said in Monday's postgame presser that “I'm not ready to say who will be our quarterback next game. Not ready to do that”).
But seriously, Rex, coming into the week, Sanchez was ranked No. 34 in the Pro Football Focus rankings -- behind Philadelphia's Nick Foles AND Michael Vick, Blaine Gabbert, and (gulp) Brady Quinn. Even if you have a top-five defense, you can't win like that.
It doesn't matter the cost.
And yes, it will be costly, because in the offseason, the Jets, for some reason, decided to reward Sanchez for the team not winning Peyton Manning's services by giving him a $40.5 million extension. As we discussed earlier this month, Sanchez is guaranteed $8.25 million contract next season with no offset language. So, the team has to pay him that much even if Sanchez finds another job, and if the Jets designate him a June 1 cut, he still would count $12.35 million against the salary cap in 2013 and $4.8 million in 2014 (see, this is one big reason why Tannenbaum probably should start looking for another place of employment).
As my colleague Ryan Wilson wrote recently, “Put another way: The Jets are stuck with Sanchez, and Sanchez is stuck with the Jets.”
That might be true, but it shouldn't matter. No matter how much it costs the team -- financially and in player talent in the next few years -- he can't be on this team next year. Rid the team of Sanchez. Exorcise the albatross. Figure out a way to get by for the next two years, and come back with a better game plan with new men running the team.
That's the only way the team can move forward. With Sanchez, the team is stuck in reverse. And man, it is hellacious to watch.
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