New York Jets  

 

Is Sanchez putting the Jets on the road to ruin?

Oh my lord, my team is in ruins. And I mean trek to the jungle and get eaten up by vines like in the book "The Ruins", ruins. I know I thought this would be an offseason filled with intrigue and drama but now it's ramped up on HGH.

Forget about hiring Tony Sparano as an offensive coordinator, one who's only called plays one season in his career. Forget that he never developed Chad Henne and now gets saddled with Mark Sanchez (possibly), and might be arm-wrestling with Todd Haley for offensive control. That news is so 24 hours ago. That's ordering girl scout cookies compared to what's going on with Sanchez.

Unnamed teammates have criticized him for a lackluster work ethic, and non-development after three seasons. None of this is new except for the work ethic part; when Sanchez came into the league, he had a pretty strong one that Rex Ryan stood behind. Now even that is being criticized. One lesson I've learned in my life is that perception is reality, right or wrong. Maybe you are working hard but if the impression is you're not? Then you're not. Sanchez has a very public life outside of football. Tom Brady gets a pass because he's won three Super Bowls and has actually accomplished things in the league. Plus, he didn't become a rock star until after he won. What other star QB do you read about their life off the field? Not one. But you do with Sanchez. How many star QBs have Twitter accounts they're on regularly? You see where I'm going. It's not that Sanchez is a horrible guy, or even a horrible quarterback. I like the guy. He's good to his teammates, generous, and has a fun personality. And he's talented. But is he good enough to win? If the answer isn't an immediate yes, then you have issues.

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Perception is reality. I wrote last week that the Jets need to bring in others who can potentially take his job, because that's the last thing that can motivate him to take the next step. If he doesn't, then you'll have yourself a new QB. But this is now far worse than that. This is teammates who are so fed up with being held back they can't take it anymore. So they spout off, anonymously. I never have a big deal with anonymity, because it accomplishes a goal of getting a popular opinion out that people need to see. Jets players were quiet a long time (well, except for Santonio Holmes) and couldn't be quiet anymore, because they want it taken care of.

Sometimes, you can only do so much rallying behind a player before you have to move on, and this is where the Jets are now. How do you keep the locker room intact? Do you keep propping up Sanchez in the wake of this firestorm and potentially lose the majority of the team? Or do you get behind the team and find a new quarterback? Sanchez is owed what Santonio Holmes is owed for next season. You can move on, be it to Peyton Manning or Matt Flynn or Kyle Orton. Sometimes there's a point of no return, and somethings you can't come back from. This is it, because no matter what the truth is, the Jets don't believe in their quarterback. And that's an impasse.

Tell me this: How is Sanchez going to get everyone to jump on his back? By playing lights out next season. But that requires an entire offseason of unrest, and the potential that Sanchez can become a franchise player. I have news for you. After three seasons, we know what kind of player he is. There's no more room to jump up, as you're already hitting your head on the chandelier in a five-foot 'Being John Malkovich' room. You can't afford to wait anymore.

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This is on Ryan to do the one thing he never likes to do: admit a mistake. That's really Ryan's fatal flaw as a head coach. He's fiercely loyal to his players and his personnel moves. No one likes to say they were wrong, but Ryan can and must do so. The guy went to two AFC Championship Games in his first two seasons and has built the Jets defense into a monster. He has the cache to say "Know what? I was wrong about our quarterback so we're moving on." He said Holmes was coming back next year because he went out to get him, he kept playing Joe McKnight because he had to show that drafting him and letting Danny Woodhead go wasn't a mistake. He stuck with Shonn Greene even though he's at best a platoon running back. It's OK to say you're wrong when you have enough good will stored in the bank.

You want to keep the team? You have to make big changes. Hard ones. Your run with this current group is over, which is a natural progression in the NFL. You've had three years and gotten as far as you could go, now it's time to re-tool. Your Slash-and-Burn Agriculture Theory at work.

Follow Jason Smith on Twitter @howaboutafresca.

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