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Green Lantern: For The Jets’ Beleaguered Sanchez, There’s No Hiding Place

Much-Maligned Quarterback Has Simply Run Out Of Time To Show He Belongs
Jets quarterback mark Sanchez walks off the field during the fourth quarter of New York's 14-10 loss in Tennessee on Dec. 17, 2012. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Jets quarterback mark Sanchez walks off the field during the fourth quarter of New York’s 14-10 loss in Tennessee on Dec. 17, 2012. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

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By Jeff Capellini, WFAN.com

NEW YORK (WFAN) — After watching the Jets’ playoff hopes go down the toilet on Monday night, I have to admit I wasn’t overly surprised they lost. I said after last week’s horror show of a victory over Jacksonville they’d have to play much better to win in Tennessee.

But the manner in which the Jets’ postseason hopes were destroyed did sort of astonish me, even if it didn’t shock the hell out of a lot of other people.

I’ll admit I should have known better, but I honestly do believe in redemption in some form, especially when good people are involved. Call it the blind squirrel occasionally finding the nut theory if you want. Or perhaps accidentally stumbling over a pot of gold.

It just boggles the mind that Mark Sanchez can be this bad every time out.

As I contemplated this column — the direction I’d take describing the 14-10 loss to Tennessee that featured five Sanchez turnovers and ended the Jets’ hopes of playing in January and beyond, an event I believe should be the final chapter in the story of Sanchez’s days with the Jets, I found myself kind of at a loss for words, which is something that rarely happens.

In the rare few times I’ve experienced writer’s block I’ve turned to humor or levity as an elixir, something to jump-start the process.

However, all the jokes and cheap sarcasm in the world this time around are in no way going to explain something that really defies true explanation:

What are the Jets going to do about Sanchez, a player owed $8.25 million next year in guaranteed money? A player who if cut will drop a nice, fat $18 million in dead money on the team’s salary cap?

That, my friends, is no laughing matter.

So, here we are in the wee hours of the morning after yet another brutal ending to another brutal loss and I’m stuck resorting to song lyrics. This is what the Jets do to their fans and many of the people in the media tasked with trying to make sense of them.

As a child of the late 1970s and ’80s arena rock scene, I found what I was looking for to sum up who I believe Sanchez is and likely will remain as long as he’s allowed to stay a part of this franchise.

The beauty of music is it’s up to the listener to decide what a particular song means to them. I’ll be honest, I don’t know what the guys in Genesis were thinking when they wrote this song, and I don’t really care. All I know is when I think about  No. 6 on your New York Jets, I envision the following, more so now than ever before:

See the lonely man there on the corner,
What he’s waiting for, I don’t know,
But he waits every day now.
He’s just waiting for something to show.

And nobody knows him,
And nobody cares,
’cause there’s no hiding place,
There’s no hiding place — for you.

Looking everywhere at no one,
He sees everything and nothing at all — oh.
When he shouts nobody listens,
Where he leads no one will go — oh.

He’s a lonely man, there on the corner,
What he’s waiting for, I don’t know,
But he waits every day now.
And he’s just waiting for something to show — oh.

Nobody knows him,
And nobody cares,
’cause there’s no hiding place,
There’s no hiding place – for you and me.

Are we just like all the rest,
We’re looking too hard for something he’s got
Or moving too fast to rest.
But like a monkey on your back you need it.
But do you love it enough to leave it — ah.

Just like the lonely man there on the corner,
What he’s waiting for, I don’t know — oh.
But he waits every day now.
He’s just waiting for that something to show — oh.

Sanchez really is the lonely man on the corner. Whatever that “something” is he’s supposed to show simply never materializes anymore. Some will say even when the Jets were good a few years back his something was really a whole lotta nothing, hidden by a tremendous defense and punishing running game.

What transpired in 2009 and 2010 is so far out of the true realm of reality of what the Jets and Sanchez are right now, it’s almost not worth thinking back to the good ‘ole days of the Rex Ryan regime. The Jets are a national joke. On Monday night, the ESPN pregame show team was speaking of them through winks and nods. The guys in the booth had these long, awkward pauses as if to say they couldn’t make heads nor tails of what they were witnessing.

They were basically laughing at this team, as do countless millions across the country.

The only thing the Jets do these days is confirm what everyone seems to already know: they are a bunch of players, coaches and executives who have completely lost their way.

And the poster boy for this ineptitude is Sanchez, a player who deserves a lot of the criticism, but, in fairness, not all of it.

While the hardliners will say Sanchez is paid a king’s ransom to do a job and if their employers paid them the equivalent of the real-world dollars this quarterback makes for the results he produces, they’d be on line at a job fair.

But yet Sanchez remains. While I don’t begrudge any man who accepts a massive amount of money for his services, I do, in this case, question how in the world a player like Sanchez was viewed as worthy of what was a $50 million extension with no voidable years following last season’s 26-touchdown, 26-turnover odyssey.

The Jets, primarily owner Woody Johnson and general manager Mike Tannenbaum, did something you just can’t do if your idea is to build a champion — reward someone out of guilt. I believe the Jets once again decided it was better to coddle Sanchez than it was to think logically. They could have rid themselves of him after this season with minimal financial impact comparatively had they not given him that massive extension, but because they toyed with the idea of Peyton Manning and then engineered the absolutely asinine trade that brought Tim Tebow here, a pair of notions that were completely pie in the sky, they felt they needed to re-establish Sanchez’s confidence.

By ultimately destroying their salary structure for the foreseeable future.

It’s hard to argue that the Jets couldn’t have gotten to and lost both AFC title games with another quarterback, even an average quarterback, which Sanchez wasn’t then and certainly isn’t now. If you agree with me on that, then let’s look at what Sanchez has truly given this franchise over the last four seasons.

Sanchez has played in 67 games with the Jets. He has thrown for less than 200 yards 37 times, or 55.2 percent of his professional life, a statistic which is also his career regular season completion percentage. Over his last 30 games he has turned the ball over an incredible 50 times, including fumbles. He has a career quarterback rating of 72.4 in a passing league.

Let those numbers sink in.

I said before that Sanchez is not totally to blame here. The Jets have gotten what they paid for since moving all the way up to No. 5 in the 2009 draft to get a quarterback that had all of 15 or so career starts for a program in USC not exactly known for producing talent at the position. I’m tired of hearing about Eli Manning’s career arc, how he struggled mightily for a few years before finally finding himself. Mark is not Eli, not on his best day, which, admittedly, we’ve never seen nor likely will see because there’s no reason to believe Sanchez has greatness in him, even if for a very short period of time.

Have you watched Sanchez play this season? The back-footed throws? The forcing of the ball? The accuracy better suited for a grenade toss than a sharpshooter? The body language that suggests he’d rather be anywhere else than in an NFL stadium each weekend? The church mouse persona with the media when desperate times demand someone step up and truly lead? It goes on and on.

Yet the Jets continue to trot him out there because, supposedly, he gives them the best chance to win. What does that say about the job Tannenbaum has done?

The Sanchez supporter, who are very few at this point but were once in abundance because they had no other choice, will say the Jets have done this quarterback no favors over the last few seasons, and they’d be right. If you believe Sanchez has the potential to be a good quarterback in this league you simply have to hate how this front office has continuously changed his wide receivers, failed to address right tackle and not even come remotely close to even thinking about getting a difference-maker at running back.

But when I look at Sanchez I don’t see a guy being let down by his supporting cast. I see a guy with zero confidence and a decision-making process that often defies logic. Let’s be honest, does a rookie or second-year wide receiver run an incorrect route every time? I have to ask because some of Sanchez’s throws are not even in the same area code of his intended targets. I’d agree Sanchez has the physical tools to be good, but he just doesn’t have the mental game any successful quarterback needs to have to survive the rigors of the NFL.

But your Jets thought differently, and now everyone is miserable.

The only thing left to do is to try to move Sanchez in the offseason. And while I understand it will be nearly impossible to find a team that will take on that type of salary for what amounts to a backup quarterback, the Jets still need to make getting him out of here their top player-personnel priority. This is a quarterback-driven league and even if the Jets still think they can win with the running game they have to have a better option than Sanchez, even handing the ball off.

I don’t see how Tannenbaum does this, but the hope is it won’t be Tannenbaum making that call. Johnson needs to get a true football man in here, one that has the savvy — or maybe the guts — to rid the Jets of their glaring weakness, while doing it likely under a coach he didn’t hire, because I’m still pretty confident Ryan isn’t going anywhere.

It’s just a mess, on just about every level.

I don’t expect the Jets to cut Sanchez and take the cap hit, but at this point would you really blame them if they did?

There’s a heaviness that constantly weighs on this franchise. Its fans never feel good about anything. Every game is a struggle. Every week is an exercise in humility as you watch the Jets spar with the media over the most ridiculous of topics. Every press conference is an event that rarely leaves anyone feeling good about what’s to come.

The Jets need a lobotomy from the top on down and Sanchez must be allowed to walk the Earth in search of redemption.

This relationship must end.

Because if he stays, only an act of God will begin to fix what is probably the most inept and maddening franchise in all of professional sports.

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

You are the Jets’ GM, what do you do — cut Sanchez and take the cap hit or ride the wave for another year? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below …