By Steve Lichtenstein
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I know it’s not the Jets’ style, but they’ve got to put a stop to this circus surrounding quarterback Mark Sanchez.
It was bad enough last year with all the micro-analyzing of every Tim Tebow muscle movement.
Now we’re subjected to a daily dose of the Sanchez Trials, even though it’s only the second week of OTAs.
As if all of a sudden, with a new offensive coordinator and new competition for the job, the Jets expect Sanchez to suddenly morph into Tom Brady.
Every throw, every series, and every mental breakdown in these OTAs is being debated as if these were real games. “What happened on that interception?” “What was his completion percentage?” Even better, “What was his ‘accuracy” percentage?” as measured by Marty Mornhinweg, the aforementioned coordinator?
It’s overkill, don’t you think?
I hate to break it to you, Rex Ryan, but we know who Sanchez is by now.
At his best, when he is surrounded by a solid offensive line and a consistent running game (like during his first two seasons), Sanchez can be an adequate game manager. A poor man’s Alex Smith, with less accuracy and escapability.
Ask him to do more, however, and you’re in trouble.
He is a turnover magnet, with below average accuracy, vision, arm strength — heck, he’s below average in just about everything you want from your quarterback except toughness.
This is already shaping up to be one of the most dreaded Jets seasons since the end of the Rich Kotite era, with the Jets lacking speed and playmaking ability on both sides of the ball.
The offense, in particular, has the potential to be an all-time disaster, thanks to Ryan continuing his policy of ignoring it on draft day. The line has gaping holes and a candidate for the new lead running back spot may be donning a different uniform (one with stripes) by opening day.
But it’s the quarterback who feels the brunt of an offense’s failure. If you thought the boo-birds were merciless last season, when Sanchez’s 26 turnovers led the league, wait till he works with this group.
On the other hand, why wait?
Tomorrow is June 1, the NFL’s “designated” cut day. It will be a day I am praying that the Jets finally rid themselves of one the biggest of former general manager Mike Tannenbaum’s blunders.
Of course, Tannenbaum double-downed on his mistake by locking up Sanchez unnecessarily in 2012 via a contract extension. Sanchez will be paid $8.25 million whether or not he plays a down for the Jets this season and the salary cap consequences should he be cut are draconian–$12.35 million of dead money in 2013 and $4.8 million in 2014. The Jets are already down $21.65 million in dead cap space, $13 million of it courtesy of the trade of star cornerback Darrelle Revis to Tampa Bay.
Still, the Jets’ cap situation is not as severe as it’s been in recent years, thanks to new general manager John Idzik’s offseason housecleaning, which put an end to the Jet careers of many familiar faces, such as Dustin Keller, Bart Scott, Brandon Moore and Shonn Greene, in addition to Revis.
And it’s not like Idzik needs the room because he was secretly planning on doling out high-priced contracts to players on the street in the next few months. Maybe there’ll be a veteran or two who gets whacked over the summer who we want the Jets to pick up, but if they don’t, it won’t be because of the cap.
No, Idzik knows this team needs to be blown up. And the demolition can’t be completed without parting with Sanchez.
Keeping him around, and having him play, no less, will only further alienate a livid fan base.
Enough of “Sanchez gives us the best chance to win.” It doesn’t matter whether rookie second-round draft pick Geno Smith is or isn’t the answer. I have my doubts, given the unlikelihood that the Jets will transform their offense to suit Smith’s skillset, another Ryan trademark.
But there’s no reason why we can’t find that out now. Five rookie quarterbacks were Week 1 starters in 2012, from sure-thing Andrew Luck to third-rounder Russell Wilson. This is a new era—it’s no longer required that rookie QBs apprentice as clipboard-holders before they get to play.
The Jets are going nowhere in 2013 and it’s obvious that Sanchez’s limitations lower the ceiling on how good they can be even if he’s eventually surrounded by a better supporting cast.
There’s no reason for Sanchez to be here after tomorrow. Stop the charade.
Just cut him already.
For a FAN’s perspective of the Nets, Jets and the NHL, follow Steve on Twitter @SteveLichtenst1.
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