At 3:09pm on December 2nd, 2012, the Mark Sanchez era officially came to an end. It doesn’t matter who won today’s game, or even who starts next week’s game – the minute that Rex Ryan and the Jets pulled Mark Sanchez, was the minute that the Sanchez era ended. All you had to do was hear the crowd reaction, and more importantly, see the team’s reaction. They responded. Tough catches were made. Players were fired up. They CARED. And all it took, was a QB change.
The game itself was miserable. The score said it all: 7-6. The Cardinals may be one of the few NFL teams that are currently worse than the Jets. Calling this game a “defensive struggle” is being generous. This game was an offensive struggle – the Cards converted zero – ZERO – third downs, all game. But someone had to win, and it was the Jets.
But back to the real story. After 2 1/2 awful quarters of Mark Sanchez, Rex finally made the move he had to make and made a QB change. But it was not the change everyone thought it would be. With Tim Tebow inactive today due to a rib injury, in came 3rd string QB and former 6th rd draft pick, Greg McElroy. And the team responded with a TD on the very first drive, which was enough to win this sorry excuse for an NFL game.
Sanchez was terrible from the start – in fact, he threw an INT on his very first throw – to former Jet Kerry Rhodes of all people (he had a fantastic game by the way – the ultimate payback game). And it got worse from there. 2 more bad INTs and one more throw that should have been picked off and returned for a TD. Sanchez looked lost from the start Final Numbers: 10-21 for 97 yds and 3 INTs. Ouch.
And you know much Rex and Tanny love Sanchez. That’s how bad it was. Rex had no choice but to make a change. There was literally NO chance that the Jets were going to win today with Sanchez under center. He single-handedly was holding them back in another game where their defense did what it needed to do.
Is McElroy our long-term solution at QB? Probably not. He’s a smart game-manager, the kind of QB who can take you places with a great running game and a great D – neither of which the Jets have at the moment. He’s a slightly stronger-armed Chad Pennington – which is still an upgrade. But what this moves does is signal that the Sanchez era is over. It has to be. There will be a small riot in Florham Park this week if Rex goes with Sanchez again. The players will erupt, as will the fans. This move should have been made months ago and credit to Rex for finally, making it. Rex has already said that he won’t announce his starter for next week. But what else is he going to say at this moment? It’s going to be an interesting few days inside Jets’ HQ.
The ultimate loser in this (besides the long-suffering Jets fans) is Tim Tebow. He must be thinking – what the heck do I have to do to get in a game? Many are speculating that if Tebow were active today, Rex would have stuck with Sanchez – i.e. that there is no way they will ever go with Tebow as their starter. If that is the case, then the move to get him was even dumber than many thought it was when they made it. You don’t trade for a back-up QB if you have no intention of ever using him. But the irony here is huge – all year, everyone has been speculating about a Tebow-inspired QB controversy. Who would have predicted a McElroy-inspired QB controversy?
So the remaining 4 weeks of the season just got interesting. I was just starting to lose interest in the season, but now you have a reason to watch. And with Jacksonville up next, they have a legitimate chance of getting to 6-7. But nothing is guaranteed with this team, and that now includes the starting QB. It’s never dull here in Jets-land…
Oh and by the way – the Pats clinched the AFC East today for the 9th time in 10 seasons. The more things change, the more they stay the same…