|After four agonizing months, the Jets' season has come to its inglorious end. (US Presswire)|
Like it or not -- and, yes, we know, many of you hated it -- Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow were inextricably linked this season. And as such, we charted their ups and downs from one week to the next in something we have called Sanchbow: Chronicling the Jets' QBs in 2012.
It's over. Finally, mercifully, the 2012 season is over and, with it, any mentions next week of Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow, Tony Sparano or Rex Ryan blindly offering his support for any of them. There's not even a silver lining in Sanchez getting the Week 17 start 10 days after he was benched for third-teamer and former seventh-rounder Greg McElroy.
But if that which doesn't kill you truly does make you stronger, Sanchez will be James Harrison-tough in 2013. Unfortunately for the Jets, it doesn't work that way, which is why the two are stuck in the NFL equivalent of a loveless marriage in which the kids are Sanchez's $8.25 million guaranteed contract for next season.
It's over.(Click to enlarge)
Most fans have long been of the opinion that the organization should eat the $8.25 million, dump Sanchez along with just about everybody responsible for signing him to that ludicrous extension in the first place -- including owner Woody Johnson.
Instead, general manager Mike Tannenbaum was given his walking papers on Monday, but Ryan will return (and Sparano, the offensive coordinator who replaced the much-maligned Brian Schottenheimer, is still gainfully employed despite reports to the contrary).
So now the Jets, a team with myriad problems and $20 million over the cap for 2013, are in the market for a GM to help build a roster around the NFL's worst quarterback. This isn't hyperbole -- we're serious. According to the eggheads at Football Outsiders, Sanchez ranked dead last in their QB efficiency metric among the 39 quarterbacks that attempted at least 100 passes during the season.
Dead last. On a list that includes such luminaries as Blaine Gabbert, Chad Henne, Brandon Weeden, John Skelton, Matt Cassel, Brady Quinn and Ryan Lindley. It's no wonder former Colts general manager Bill Polian, looking to get back in the league, reportedly said, "No, thanks" to the Jets about the possibility of replacing Tannenbaum.
Sanchez might not have been good at much the last four months, but his powers of observation and self-evaluation appear to be fine.
"In my opinion, I underachieved and didn't play the way I'm capable of playing," Sanchez said on Monday, a day after the Jets finished 6-10 with a 28-9 loss at Buffalo. "Unfortunately, that led to some losses and things like that. We just have to get better and take some time and get away from the game a little bit and come back strong next year."
Sanchez's prognosticatory skills, however, remain questionable.
"I just had a good talk with Rex, and I know we're destined for great stuff here," he continued. "I know we can be successful here. That's what I'm focused on. I'm excited to come back next year and do my best."
The last 32 games say otherwise, but credit Sanchez for keeping a positive attitude through some of the most dysfunctional football you ever hope to see. Some of that dysfunction is a result of someone in the organization thinking that trading for Tim Tebow in March was a good idea.
|More NFL Black Monday|
But as the season progressed and all the talk of Tebow's impact turned into the reality of him standing on the sideline, it became clear that maybe Ryan wasn't completely on board with bringing Tebow and his talents to New York. And while the coach was mostly supportive in public, the fact that Tebow was passed over for McElroy after Sanchez was benched spoke volumes. Put another way: Ryan might not have been able to keep the higher-ups from acquiring Tebow, but that didn't mean he was going to play him.
For hopefully the last time ever, Ryan was asked after the Jets' Week 17 loss to the Bills why Tebow spent the afternoon staring wistfully at the field from the vantage point of the bench.
"It was my decision to stay with Sanchez [once McElroy was out with a concussion]," Ryan said. "I was the only one who made that decision. It's on me and, obviously, it didn't work out the way I wanted it to. … If I thought Tebow would have helped us win the game playing quarterback or defensive tackle, I would have played him."
Clearly, such a thought never crossed Ryan's mind.
So what's next for Tebow?
"I think I'll have to take a few days to really soak in and think about everything that happened," he said Sunday when asked if he could remain in New York though he wants to be a starter. "I think you have to take a few days to take it all in and look at the season. Obviously, there were ups and downs."
|The home of the Super Bowl|
There were reports before the Week 16 game against the Chargers that Tebow asked not to be included in the Jets' wildcat package. He later denied said reports. Either way, the season hasn't been a complete loss -- at least to hear Tebow tell it.
"I felt like it was a learning opportunity for me," he said. "There was a lot that I'll take from it. There's a lot that I learned and there are lot of relationships that I've built, so I know that it happened for a reason."
Fifty-two weeks ago, Ryan said in a news conference in the wake of his team's Week 17 implosion against the Dolphins that he would, among other things, fix his locker room.
"Our locker room wasn't as close as it's been in the past, obviously. But one thing we know is we're going to fix it," Ryan said in an interview with ESPN a few weeks later. "We might have been knocked down this year, but we're not knocked out. We're going to be swinging, and there's no doubt about it. But I can't wait. It's about moving forward. Put that stuff behind us. But there's things we're going to learn from. This past season, 8-8 clearly is not good enough. We did have some issues where, obviously, I never did a good enough job of recognizing it and fixing it, but we're fixing it right now. There's no doubt about that."
Somehow, things were worse in 2012. Can't wait to see what 2013 holds.
Eye on Sanchbow
|One last pregame walkthrough for old times' sake. (US Presswire)|