When you hear 60,000 plus chant in unison “Mc-Elroy, Mc-Elroy” you may feel like you are experiencing some weird trip in medieval times. Actually that was no trip, it was an astonishing reality that took place this Sunday in Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. That raucous sound came from the Jet faithful that were desperately dying for a bit of fresh air, or some kind of pulse as head coach Rex Ryan finally made the move that Jets fans have been savoring for weeks….to bench Mark Sanchez.
The love affair with Mark Sanchez is long over. The former USC quarterback, who the Jets drafted with the fifth overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, and led the Jets to two straight AFC Championship games, is in a bad place. The New York media used to love him. He was the new boy wonder. He backed up his big mouthed coach by being clutch when it mattered. This kid never had that Brady moxie, or Manning’s precision and smarts, or the arm of Drew Brees, and let’s be honest, he never will. But….he did win games. But then all of a sudden, the wheels started to fall off the bus. We started to see his deficiencies being exposed. He doesn’t make smart decisions, isn’t that accurate, can’t hold on to the football, holds on to the football too long, isn’t a great deep passer, etc. Once the infamous “ground and pound” wasn’t around, Sanchez was asked to do more. Many blamed disgruntled offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer for Sanchez’s woes, and a lot of the credit does fall on the OC, who eventually resigned before he got fired, but yet something does have to fall on the QB1’s shoulders right? Sanchez was starting to become more known for his off the field conquests with star beauties then for his play in between the 20’s. After two consecutive seasons reaching the AFC Championship game, here is what the Jets have done. In 2011 they were 8-8, and did not reach the playoffs. This year they are 5-7, currently two games out of the last Wild Card spot. Point blank, that is not cutting it in this market, where the defending Super Bowl Champions split the back page with you. Eli Manning, the Giants star quarterback, is the epitome of stability. He’s quiet, humble, and has earned all of his praise with a brilliant body of work. Body line, Eli gets things done. Sanchez on the other hand has become back page comics. His confidence has to be shattered. His pride slowly is breaking. He is the complete opposite of Eli Manning. The Giants know what they have on their side. The Jets on the other hand, are still trying to figure out who Mark Sanchez is.
It’s hard to trade up some fifteen plus spots into the top five to not draft the quarterback of your future. But how much longer can the Jets wait for Sanchez to turn it around? Sanchez has been abysmal this season. He has a 55.0 completion percentage, has thrown 12 TD’s with 13 INT’s for 2436 yards. He has been sacked 29 times. He has been god awful. This year the Jets brought in every one’s favorite god-loving savior, Tim Tebow to pressure Sanchez for the job. So far, this hasn’t happened. Tebow was supposed to be part of new offensive coordinator Tony Sporano’s, wildcat transformation. FAIL. The wildcat has been a joke. Tebow has been also horrendous, but to his credit, he hasn’t really had the chance to do much (on the season he is 6-7, for 85 yards) because he is never on the field enough for passing situations. But things hit an all time low this past Sunday. The Jets hosted the horrendous Arizona Cardinals in a 1pm game on FOX. This may have been one of the worst games to ever have been played. I am not joking. Stevie Wonder wouldn’t have been able to enjoy any of this game. It was that bad. The Cardinals started rookie QB Ryan Lindley, who actually may be worse than Sanchez, if you can believe that. Lindley went 10 of 31 for 72 yds and 1 pick. Cmon man!!! You have Larry Fitzgerald on your team! You can’t complete more passes than that? How is this guy an NFL quarterback. But peep this… his foe, Sanchez, a four time vet, playing under an enormous new $58.25 million dollar contract, went 10 of 21 for 97 yards with 3 picks! Yes…I did not stutter! Three interceptions and this was by the third quarter. You gotta be kidding me! If I was a Jets season ticket holder I would be appalled with the product that they have put on the field.
As of late the Jets have been pretty bad. They have lost 3 out of their last four games. They lost to the Pats in Foxborough 29-26. They lost to the Dolphins at home 30-9. They got crushed by Seattle on the road 28-7. Then they beat the Rams in St. Louis, 27-13, and suffered their worst loss of the season to their arch rivals, the New England Patriots on Thanksgiving night in front of a nationally televised audience. The Jets were pounded 49-19 at home, and even had one remarkable play where Sanchez fumbled by running into his own lineman’s ass. Seriously priceless. Finally after watching some of the most horrid football in front of his eyes and hearing the excessive chants for a new quarterback, Ryan made the change that could…redefine the Jets. he finally yanked Mark Sanchez, for……Greg McElroy.
Who is Greg McElroy? Well first off, he sounds like a gardener. But he actually isn’t. He is a seventh round draft pick from the University of Alabama. He won the national championship with Alabama as a junior, leading them to an undefeated record that season, 14-0. He was a former Texas state player of the year in 2005. Dude threw 56 touchdowns and 4636 yards in one season!!! Why hasn’t this guy been under center for the Jets all season? LOL. However, when McElroy finally got his chance, he led the team on its only scoring drive where he hit tight end Jeff Cumberland in the end zone for a touchdown pass. The Jets won this horrendous slug fest 7-6.
So what does this now mean? We have yet another quarterback controversy brewing in New York’s favorite soap opera, the New York Jets. Who does Ryan name the starting quarterback for this week? If he sticks with Sanchez he will no doubt infuriate their fan base who is over Mark Sanchez. I feel bad for Sanchez. He gained so much early success in his first two years that it was inevitable that magical ride couldn’t last forever, but he has endured some horrible public scrutiny. He is chastised constantly. He is belittled and beaten by his fan base. He has already had to fight for his job against the holy one, who is also a horrible NFL quarterback. But the proof is in the pudding. Sanchez has stunk it up over the past two seasons. Part of the problem is he has one of the worst supporting casts in football. The Jets receiving core might as well be called the Walking Dead, so who does the poor kid have to pass too. Although the Jets running game has found somewhat of a pulse in the past two weeks, it clearly isn’t the “ground and pound” that they thought it was going to be, so is this all really Sanchez’s fault? I guess the answer is yes and no. Bottom line, Sanchez has to make the throws. He has to find a way to make some plays. The organization’s job is to help support him with the talent to do so. This is 2012 NFL football. It is a passing league. It is hard to be successful when the quarterback has no one to pass too. So Sanchez has been put in a very tough situation. The other option is to go with the hot hand, like Jim Harbaugh in San Francisco did. Should Ryan give McElroy is first ever NFL start? When McElroy came in, the Jets at least had some life to them. Players after the game admitted to having some energy on that scoring drive. As far as I am concerned it can’t get any worse. Why not give the kid a shot? But Ryan also knows if he does that, the Mark Sanchez era in New York is over. He is tied to Sanchez. Sanchez is his guy, so he knows that if the ship sinks with Sanchez, he is probably sinking with it. Cue in the Celine Dion music now.
The Jets are not a playoff team with or without Mark Sanchez. This year has been a wash. They will most likely finish with a 500 at best record, and this will be the second year in a row that the Jets will miss out on the playoffs. Owner Woody Johnson can’t be happy with the amount of empty seats at Met Life every week. The Jets need a change. What Ryan did at the end of the third quarter was make a change. He gave his team a chance. And it led them to a win. I’m not saying Greg McElroy is the next Tom Brady, because he’s not, but the Jets clearly need something new. They need something fresh. They need something to get people talking about them again instead of laughing at them, and maybe that something is one Gregory McElroy Jr. Welcome to the NFL kid, and if not anything, at least welcome to the circus. It’s always a story when you play for the New York Jets. Go with the hot hand Rex…things can’t get any colder.