Around the League will examine one key player under pressure on each team heading into the 2012 season. First up: The New York Jets
Under Pressure: Mark Sanchez
Sanchez is the obvious choice in New York. I tried to write this post about Shonn Greene because Sanchez felt too easy, too obvious. But it felt dishonest when you consider everything Sanchez must do to avoid a quarterback controversy this season:
1. Never have a bad first quarter at home.
2. Keep the Jets above .500 at all times. Even 1-1 won't be good enough to avoid serious Tim Tebow talk.
3. Never lose two games in a row.
4. Don't allow Tebow to make game-winning plays.
5. Don't allow Tebow to have any good games throwing the ball as a backup.
6. Consistently play at a higher level than ever before. Or else there will be change.
This is a game that Sanchez and coach Rex Ryan can't win. There is no grace period, no breathing room. If Sanchez starts the season with an interception or a few three and outs, the Jets home crowd will be begging his removal. The tabloids probably won't even wait for the regular season.
Keep in mind that Sanchez has to elevate his play in a brand new offense under Tony Sparano that stresses the running game. New York's No. 2 receiver is a rookie and their number three receiver is probably Jeremy Kerley. New York faces a very tough opening slate to start the season.
I tried to make a mental case for Shonn Greene. After all, he's also a vaguely disappointing fourth-year player that needs to step it up. But choosing him would be silly.
There isn't a player under more pressure in the NFL than Mark Sanchez.