Where to start? With Sanchez’ now world-famous implosion on national TV? With the decision to start your 3rd string QB this week? With the Jets’ awful cap situation and future? So much to write about, so little time…
By now you’ve probably read everything there is to read about what happened on Monday night. It was quarterbacking at its worst. The passes Sanchez threw at the end were akin to those thrown on Thanksgiving in your backyard. Back-foot heaves into triple coverage. Reckless play that made Brett Favre look conservative. It was as if Sanchez was daring the Jets to bench him. Watch me throw another crazy interception! What are you going to do? You owe me $8MM guaranteed next year, suckas! (insert maniacal laugh)
Sanchez mercifully left Rex with no choice. And the death threats Sanchez received this week (seriously? Especially after Newtown. I’m ashamed to be part of this human race sometimes) only exacerbated things. There was just no way Rex could trot out no. 6 next week. So what do you do – start Tebow, your QB2 and constant source of media attention, but a guy who clearly has no future as the QB of the Jets? Or do you go with Greg McElroy, your no. 3 QB who may have a future in this league – as a back-up. The answer is: Who Cares? Neither guy is the QB of the future, and this team has so many problems, the last 2 weeks of the season will have no real impact on the future. If this team were not in New York, no one would be writing about the travails of a 6-8 team without any direction.
So what next? The so-called experts in the Jets’ blogsphere and the Jets beat writers have started to chime in with their ideas. Some good, some crazy, some predictable. What’s pretty consistent amongst them all is that the Jets are screwed, at least for 2013, and most of that is due to Mike Tannenbaum and his epic failure of salary cap management. Read this for some very useful analysis.
Here is one thing that I think is clear – Mark Sanchez will be with this team next year. He makes a GUARANTEED $8MM in 2013, with a “cap hit” of $12MM. If the Jets cut Sanchez before June 1st, his “cap hit” is $17MM. The total cap for 2013 is projected to $120MM. That would mean that if they cut Sanchez, a player that is no longer on the roster would make up nearly 1/6th of the salary cap. Astounding. And more importantly, it means they are not cutting him.
So what do you do? Trade him, many people say. That would be great! But seriously, what team in their right mind would trade for him? Maybe, just maybe they would if the Jets assumed most of his salary, but I think that’s a long shot. Other say that he’s so miserable, he’ll take a pay cut to get out of town. Hmmm…maybe, but would you walk away from a guaranteed $8MM? Or would you stick it out in New York and spend your $8MM on Eva Longoria look-alikes? I know what I’d choose.
So where does that leave us? It leaves us with Mark Sanchez still will the New York Jets in 2013. He probably won’t be the starter, but he’ll be on the team. That’s just the grim reality.
So how do the Jets get better? It won’t be easy, but here are my top 5 priorities:
1. Fire Mike Tannenbaum and bring in an experienced GM who has rebuilt other franchises. It was a good run Mike, but the work you’ve done the past 2 years has been a disaster. Their best player (Revis) wasn’t drafted by him, and his track record in the draft (with the picks he hasn’t traded) has been spotty at best (Gholston, Wilson, Ducasse = bad. Wilkerson, Coples, Kerley = good). His FA signings and trades have been equally mixed (Landry, Bell, Tomlinson = good. Tebow, Schillens = bad).
2. Retain Rex Ryan, fire the offensive staff. A new GM may want to bring in an entire new staff, but my personal opinion is that Rex should come back. As bad of a job as he did last year, he’s done an equally good job this year. With the injuries to Revis & Holmes and the general lack of talent on the team, it’s a minor miracle that he kept this team together and in position to compete for a playoff spot. He turned around the franchise and its culture when he arrived 4 years ago and twice had them a game away from the Super Bowl. No other Jets coach has done that. Give him 2 more years with a solid QB and talent around him. On the flip-side, fire Tony Sparano and the entire offensive staff. Bring in a proven offensive coordinator and one that can develop QBs – Norv Turner, anyone?
3. Find a new QB – duh! This won’t be easy and their franchise QB is probably in the 2014 draft. Sign a cheap, but serviceable QB (Matt Moore, Jason Campbell, Kyle Orton, Shaun Hill) and have him run the team for a year until you find someone in the 2014 draft. Sanchez is your back-up until you can cut him in 2014.
4. Trade players and draft picks for more draft picks. Many have said they should trade Cromartie ($8MM) or Revis for picks. I don’t love this idea – why weaken your only true strength? But the Revis idea is an interesting one – he’s actually a bargain next year, and despite the ACL injury, he would net at least a 2nd round pick, and maybe even higher. If you can trade Tebow for a late round pick, do it. Whatever they do, they have to maximize next year’s draft – they need as many new bodies as they can find.
5. Cut your dead, over-the-hill weight – Bart Scott, Calvin Pace, Bryan Thomas, Jason Smith, Eric Smith (anyone named Smith) and yes, probably Dustin Keller. All goners. Holmes might well be on this list too depending on his recovery from surgery. Sign younger, faster players and build up some depth on the O-line and D-line. This game is still won in the trenches.
See – easy! The bottom line is this – the Jets will (should) be in full rebuilding mode next year. We are looking at a 4-12 team at best. But by the end of the year, they will be out of cap hell, with a top 5 draft pick and hopefully their QB of the future identified. And as Andrew Luck and RGIII have shown, you can turn around a franchise in less than a year if you have the right guy under center. One can dream, right?