Green Lantern: Suppose The Jets Don’t Get Manning, Then What?

Unless Sanchez Unzips Himself And Steps Out Anew, Gang Green In Deep

By Jeff Capellini, CBSNewYork/

NEW YORK (WFAN) — I like to have fun at Mark Sanchez’s expense on Twitter. Because the guy has been a church mouse this offseason he’s left me and many like me with no choice.

While it’s easy to say Sanchez will do his talking on the field next season, as many of his supporters have pointed out to me, often with four-letter words and exclamation points, I’m left to wonder, if he is indeed the Jets’ starting quarterback, if he’ll have anything left emotionally to do so.

Then again, who really knows what Sanchez is thinking these days? Rumors are flying like a Peyton Manning spiral that the four-time NFL MVP is squarely on the Jets’ radar. Anything is possible. Well, almost anything. The Jets’ incumbent quarterback coming out from under his rock to fight for that which is his seems impossible.

And I’m not just referring to his hiatus since the Manning stuff heated up. Sanchez has been a public no-show since what many deemed a laughable post-game press conference in the aftermath of the putrid regular season-ending loss in Miami back in January.

As I tweeted on Wednesday, it’s hard to feel sorry for Sanchez. While I think, due to his age and relative inexperience dating to his days at USC, too much has been made of his recent regression on the field, new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano should be given an opportunity to work with this kid, just as former Jet Chad Pennington has been doing of late down in Florida.

MORE: Keidel: The Case Against Manning To Jets

But as a fan used to disappointment, it’s just hard to truly rally behind Sanchez for two very real reasons.

First, he’s yet to really become a better-than-average NFL quarterback. His 2011 statistics — 3,600-plus passing yards and 32 total touchdowns — have been overshadowed by the turnovers, the deer-in-headlights post-snap demeanor and an apparent failure to truly read coverages beyond his first look.

Sanchez supporters like to point to his four postseason wins in three seasons as the rule rather than the exception. And while I agree that this quarterback does have the potential to be a guy you can trust in a big spot, his inconsistency is something you expect to dissipate as he gets older, not continue to chase him around like a shark does a baby seal.

Now you could also say the offensive line, former offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and diva wide receivers did him no favors in 2011, and you’d be right. But even the mere mortal quarterbacks in this league find a way to overcome adversity. They show a flair for improvisation. They stand tall in the face of the world crashing down around them and somehow make plays.

Sanchez doesn’t do any of that nearly enough. And while it’s still fair to say he has the physical tools to eventually become that type of player, I just don’t know now if we’ll ever see it.

The second reason why it’s hard to rally behind him is more subjective, mostly because we can only base our opinions on what we see between the lines. We only know a limited amount about the man because Sanchez doesn’t let anyone in. He doesn’t show us a constant fire that every quarterback needs to be successful. Whether he’s spitting out tried and true cliches to the press or pulling disappearing acts when the wheels fall off the wagon, as they did in earnest from Week 15 until the unnamed sources finally shut up, Sanchez has never really given any indication that the Jets’ or his own failures bug him, or that he’s really that concerned with losing his job, which could very well happen in the next week.

The problem with being the strong, silent type is if you don’t consistently perform your trade admirably, you have nothing to fall back on. By not revealing some semblance of a personality, or consistent assurances that things will improve, the fans start to find it more and more difficult to say “yeah, he had a bad year, but he’s still my guy.”

I’ve been asked a bunch of times what exactly I expect Sanchez to say. The answer is simple: convince me you care.

I’m not convinced, not by a long shot.

So what happens if Manning decides it would be a lot more fun to beat Sanchez’s brains in playing for the Dolphins than parading from photo shoot to commercial shoot with his brother in New York? The short answer? The Jets could be in a lot of trouble.

The idea of possibly having to play Tom Brady and Manning four times next season doesn’t exactly warm the cockles, especially since the Jets will in all likelihood be left with a quarterback who was emotionally fragile to begin with but now must be wondering if anyone he’ll actually suit up alongside will truly be in his corner.

As I’ve stated plenty of times, it’s bad enough that the Jets as an organization have always lacked an identity and can’t help themselves but to Band-Aid their way around while they try to fix things on the fly. Soon, if not currently, they could have a player at the most important position on the field without the slightest bit of confidence and feeling unwanted. If you want to say Sanchez is a professional athlete and will have to get over it, do you honestly believe he will, knowing what we know and have seen?

Due to the brittle nature of this quarterback’s mental makeup and the fact that they may be stuck facing the very guy they appear to covet, the Jets have backed themselves into a corner organizationally and really have no choice now but to get Manning, regardless of the cost, if they have any designs on turning 8-8 into a Super Bowl run.

If the Jets had simply said that Sanchez is their quarterback and meant it, it probably would have been the type of confidence boost that could have helped this quarterback on his road to improvement. Instead, he’s actually the backup plan because the Jets, as is their custom, never stick to their convictions because they have no convictions.

Sanchez and the Jets are a perfect storm of imperfection. How can we honestly expect a player to be taught properly and to grow emotionally playing for a franchise that loves to cut and run for the quick fix when times are tough?

We can’t.

And if Manning signs elsewhere the Jets will be left with what will amount to a three-year reclamation project that few associated with this team want to reclaim right now. Even though Sanchez has two years left on his contract, he’s really in his walk year because unless he turns into a top 10 quarterback in 2012 the pressure on the Jets to start over again next year will be immense.

So, the choice is simple: get Manning or get on your knees and pray, something that shouldn’t be too difficult for any fan of this franchise.

This just has disaster written all over it.

Read more columns by Jeff Capellini and follow him on Twitter at @GreenLanternJet

Do you think the Jets can still win with Sanchez? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below. …

  • Stupid is as...

    Why waste money on Peyton? Wayne Hunter will get pushed aside on the first offensive play and some 350lb DE will snap Manning’s neck in half sending all that $$ down the drain. Build up the O-line so the kid can have more than 3 seconds to pass the football and Santonio won’t be complaining about running the 50-yard dash all day long with no completions.

  • Ed

    I been killing Sanchez on twitter too. Got my Peyton Manning avi in a Jets jersey on twitter.. I’ve turned on Sanchez and ready to give up on him. Should Jets fail to get Peyton Manning fallback options I would want is Jason Campbell, Vince Young, or Kyle Orton. But if Sanchez is starter I’ll accept it. Sanchez could turn into Tom Brady SB Champ or Rex Grossman a turnover/sack QB. Home Opener could get ugly Sanchez might hear boos from Jets faithful.

  • canemh

    i understand the comparisons to eli but it has to stop. these are 2 diff guys. the diff between them starts in between the ears. eli doenst let anything bother him–just shakes it off. sanchez acts like a 2 year old when he doesnt get his way. u can see his body language diff between the highs and lows. when its low for sanchise its really low.

  • StevEvil Empire


    Although I do agree with alot of what your saying, you go too far.

    This is Peyton Manning, the most coveted free agent since never. If the Jets didn’t “kick the tires” on the situation, we would hear, “what are the Jets’s thinking?”

    The Jets, at all costs, need to stay the course, and stick with the #1 draft pick they went with three years ago.

    I’ve been a Jets fan for 39 years, and I know Peyton Manning is the wrong decision. Mark Sanchez is going into his four year, and all the expierience he has gotten in the playoffs will pay off when the Jets get back into the tourament.

    Everybody has a bad year, and Mark Sanchez has proven he can win in crunch time, late in the game.

    • Lantern


      Thanks for the comment. I want the Jets to stick with Sanchez as well. I just fear he’ll never exude the type of confidence and mental makeup that goes hand-in-hand with physical development. And the Jets have been doing him no favors if they are trying ti publicly “light a fire” under him by entertaining notions of replacing him. He’s yet to show he has “it,” whatever you classify as that winning intangible. If he doesn’t get it done at a higher level in year 4 he won’t see a year 5. The cap hit next season is nothing by comparison.

      • StevEvil Empire

        I agree. It’s all about year four. Let’s hope the Jets can grow some and stick to the plan.

        Sorry, but I think he has shown he has “IT”, remember his comebacks, and remember, he beat Peyton and Brady in the same playoff year?


        • Lantern

          I would call those games moments, but not necessarily true proof he has “it.” We can’t just pick out random games, now more than a year removed, to illustrate our points. It’s about consistency. We need to see more, a lot more. Potential is there, but people are getting tired of hearing about potential. You do or you don’t do in the NFL. It’s that simple.

  • Tommy C

    In New York its always been what have you done for me lately. That being said The Jets have 1 BIG PROBLEM on their team thats that PUNK Santonio.The Jets need to get this CLOWN on-board, Sanchez IS NOT hte problem,but he needs to grow a set , this is not LA TE DAH , California. He needs to make this team HIS.Coach Mouth needs to shut it this year and just play the game.The GM needs to sit SANTOINO down and read him the riot act, get in line or get out .Still don’t know why they gave this malcontent that kind of GUARNTEED money…..

    • Lantern

      Tommy C,

      Thanks for the comment. There’s always going to be a bad apple or two, but Santonio had the power (i.e. the type of contract) that allowed him to say whatever he wanted and behave however he chose to behave because he knew the Jets would be powerless to really do anything about it due to the salary cap hit. Santonio is a tremendous player, but leaves a lot to be desired as a teammate. Plus, making him a captain was an all-time colossal blunder. I don’t question his will to win one bit. I just question his grasp of the team concept.

  • Iron

    As a Giants fan, I have to agree with the above comments. Phil Simms & Eli had horrible career starts. I remember Phil being booed often early in his career. To say Sanchez is finished is absurd. Granted what the author says about the organization has a ring of truth to it. Sanchez need the organization to support him completely, at all levels, Head coach O.C. & players. This s#@t about anonymous players has been going on for too long & its Rex’s job to quash them. Let the kid play.

    • Lantern


      Thanks for the response. The “unnamed players” thing showed clearly that Rex lost complete control and it was rather classless on the Jets’ part to take that approach. Your point on the organization needing to support Sanchez completely is spot on. Hence, why I blame the Jets for Sanchez’s issues as much as I blame Mark.

  • Tommy

    This column is comical. Yeah, Sanchez is a train wreck. Right. His first two years he QB’s the Jets to the AFC title game and last year he falls ONE game short of the playoffs going 8-8.
    Eli Manning misses the playoffs in BOTH the years that Sanches makes the title game and this past year Eli is ONE game away from NOT MAKING the playoffs. He goes on to win the Super Bowl. What a difference ONE GAME makes!
    Then this Cappellini guy rants about Sanchez being “quiet” in the off season! Comical. If Jet’s guys are quiet, they get slammed for being quiet now! If they speak up, these media morons want to slam them for speaking up!
    It would be refreshing if these media knuckleheads would be quiet for a change!
    Learn something about football before you write articles about it!

    • Lantern

      Thanks for the comment (I think). I’d like for you to point out who would actually criticize the Jets right now for being quiet, after all we’ve seen and heard. You are putting too much stock in Sanchez being the sole reason the Jets got to the AFC championship games. The fact is ANY decent QB likely could have thrown for 17 TDs in 2009 and 20 in 2010. Jets got where they got due to a team effort, mostly with defense and running the football. Now, this is not to say that Sanchez didn’t make big plays. He sure did. But let’s not anoint him as the physical leader on this team because hes not. I’m not saying he can’t be, nor am I saying the Jets should give up on him, as I’ve stated time and time again in other columns and even in this one, but if you think he’s going to just suddenly become this mentally powerful force (because he’s not going to get another chance should he fail in 2012) that takes the reins of this team and leads them forward, you are expecting something that even the JETS really don’t think he can be. This team should have never entered the Manning sweepstakes, knowing this kid’s psyche. It speaks volumes about their confidence in him.

    • StevEvil Empire

      Right on.

  • mom

    rex ryan is a fat loudmouth, santonio holmes is a crybaby and the chubby dumb blonde one night stand are to blame..the whole staff is a joke, playing love connection all season..and they haven’t won a superbowl in 30 yrs.

    mark needs to dump the jets and find a team that takes football more seriously..

  • Bubba

    Three years as a body of work…..and you are ready to pull the plug on him …..toss him aside….And you know football???….If a sub-par year is 8-8 ….are you sure you don’t have this game confused with soccer??…2010….the jets are knocking on the door to the super bowl….dont blame the QB for not knocking the door down ….blame the defense….and to get to that point he had to beat Manning ….and then Brady…Now thats a QB

    • Lantern


      Thanks for the comment. If you think the Jets are still knocking on the door to the Super Bowl, especially if Manning goes to Miami, there’s not much I can really say to you. I want to see Mark succeed here as much as anyone, but he’s yet to prove he’s the QB or leader the Jets need to win a championship. And the Jets must know it because even before the Manning stuff started in earnest they never really gave him a vote of confidence. Some QBs you can play games with to motivate, but the overly sensitive ones? Not so much.

  • rob

    Could you be a bigger fool? Playoff wins are the exception? OT wins in cleveland and detroit…..comeback win againt the texans…I can go on., the dude has swagger. to say otherwise is foolish……then again…maybe im a fool for commenting. I’ve never even heard of the author of this article.

    • Lantern


      Thanks for the comment. There’s nothing worse than a Jets fan who still uses the ridiculous “swagger” defense. If you think and are confident that Sanchez, mentally, can be the guy, then we agree to disagree. But how’s that going so far?

  • Cross

    Talk about a hatchet job. Sanchez is in a very similar situation that Eli Manning was in back in 2006. Although Manning had the pedigree and the Giants have been a much more stable organization since the arrival of George Young, if the Jets don’t pursue and acquire Peyton Manning, Sanchez could have a break out year in 2012.
    To suggest that he is finished after a sub-par year for the Jets is ridiculous. The Jets are in a better position than the writer portrays. If they do acquire Manning it would be an instant boost to the franchise and could bring them a long coveted second Super Bowl, If they don’t they still have a quarterback who may eventually turn into the player that they thought that he would become when they traded up for him. To suggest that he is finished, is ridiculous.

    • Lantern


      Thanks for the comment. If you really read the piece and check the highlighted links you’ll see I have advocated Sanchez from the start and don’t want Manning here, hence the criticism of the Jets for never having a plan and trying to do things on the fly. That said, your criticisms of my piece never once mention my main point: Sanchez has shown time and again he’s sensitive and suffers from a confidence problem. And much of it is the Jets fault as much as it is his.

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