By Kristian Dyer
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Peyton’s place can’t be New York. Well, at least it shouldn’t be.
The rumors have been out there, dotting the backpage of New York tabloids. Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning is supposedly on his way to the New York Jets. The move would make it a Manning town, setting him up to compete with brother Eli’s crosstown rival the Giants. It’s a move that the Jets in the past would have been likely to make, bringing in a big name player at the end of his career to make a playoff run. It would be just another “same old” move from this team.
But it can’t be this year, even if it comes at the expense of a winning season. The Jets must look to the future and break this trend of renting “hired guns” for a season or two. The future of this team, whether Jets fans like it or not, is Mark Sanchez.
From this year forward, the Jets must begin to form an identity and not look for quick fixes year in and year out. There’s been a lack of sustained success with the “buy now” approach of management, meaning that players such as Brett Favre, LaDainian Tomlinson and Plaxico Burress all achieved a relative lack of attainment while with the Jets. This coupled with the Jets woeful draft record the past two seasons means that outside of a handful of big name stars, there’s an alarming lack of young talent waiting in the wings.
As frustrating as the development – or lack thereof – of Sanchez has been these past three seasons, the answer isn’t to cut ties. Instead, Sanchez must be put into a system where he can succeed. The offensive line must improve, new coordinator Tony Sparano needs to embrace the play-action and the team needs to find some playmakers with game-changing speed. Perhaps there is addition by subtraction to Sanchez’s game just by bringing in Sparano, who replaces the predictable and unpopular Brian Schottenheimer. Perhaps this alone can salvage a bland career trajectory by Sanchez.
To bring in Manning, even if he is fully recovered from his multiple neck surgeries over the course of the past year, just isn’t the best answer for the team.
Instead, the Jets and their fans need to realize that they have to build towards the future. Spoiled from consecutive AFC Championship Game appearances the previous two years, it will be a fundamental shift in mentality for a team that was in “win-now” mode last season. But to give up on their top five selection from three years ago after some mild progress was made last season is just foolish.
Let’s be honest, while Sanchez has yet to live up to the hype or his “Sanchise” billing, he isn’t a bust. Bringing in Manning right now would be a clear cut act of desperation on the part of the Jets. This team isn’t at this point, not even after the disappointment of last year.
It wasn’t all Sanchez’s fault last year and it certainly isn’t his fault that the Jets traded up to draft him three years ago, overpaying and over evaluating his talent. This offense has more problems than just Sanchez and he should be the least of their concerns.
A stagnant ground game, a porous offensive line, lack of depth at the tight end position and wide receivers who failed to consistently achieve separation all hampered Sanchez’s development. Factor in a locker room with more finger pointing than a playground and it is easy to understand why a young quarterback would be unable to make the necessary strides to elevate the offense and the team. Does this all change under Manning?
The answer is a clear and resounding “No.”
That’s not to completely exonerate Sanchez. He still made poor decisions, forcing the ball, placating his temperamental wide receivers with poorly timed passes and still not going beyond one-read on his progression. But to suddenly place all this emphasis on Manning as the offense’s savior is failing to look at the real problems this team has with the chemistry and personnel surrounding the quarterback.
Not even “Broadway Joe” himself, the iconic Joe Namath, could have made this offense click on all cylinders.
To give up on Sanchez now would completely undermine his confidence moving forward, all but dooming the former first round pick to leaving New York when his contract is up. It isn’t the way to build a team.
Kristian R. Dyer covers the Jets for Metro New York and contributes to Yahoo!Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KristianRDyer for Jets news.