The Mark Sanchez apologists make their familiar case:
The New York Jets offense lacks weapons. ... GM Mike Tannenbaum didn't give the team depth. ... Santonio Holmes and Darrelle Revis are hurt. ... Dustin Keller has been injured and a non-factor. ... The Jets can't run the ball and can't stop the run. ... Tony Sparano has been worse than Brian Schottenheimer calling plays.
I get it. Frankly, it's more fact than opinion. But let's not miss the obvious here.
I used to be one of the Sanchez supporters. He won four road playoff games. Yes, it was with a legit defense and a powerful running attack, but you can't take that away from him. Over the past 21 games covering this season and 2011, though, Sanchez's play has regressed mightily. His attitude and lack of accountability arguably has been worse.
If Sanchez was an average quarterback, the Jets would have knocked off the Houston Texans on Monday night in an upset special. With a chance to tie the game in the second quarter, Sanchez did the only thing he couldn't do: throw an ill-fated pick. Jets fans couldn't be surprised. He did the exact same thing the week before against the San Francisco 49ers when the game was still a contest.
Nobody should be surprised. Mark Sanchez can't protect the football. He is totally inaccurate.
The Sanchez defenders argue that his receivers don't help him, that backup tight end Jeff Cumberland could have corralled the high pass. On our SiriusXM NFL Radio show, former NFL MVP Rich Gannon explained, "A quarterback needs to know who he is throwing the ball to." Cumberland needed the ball in the bread basket. Sanchez simply can't deliver.
I don't need stats to tell me how grotesque Sanchez's play has been. I watch the games. I see every throw. But here are a couple of nuggets of futility that will hit you between the eyes. Mark Sanchez is the first quarterback since the immortal Stoney Case, then of the 1999 Ravens, with four straight games of 25 or more passes and a completion percentage below 50 percent. Mark Sanchez is sporting a sickly season completion percentage of 48.4. That's the lowest through five games with a minimum of 100 attempts since JaMarcus Russell in 2009.
Yep. That's Sanchez in the same breath as JaMarcus Russell and Stoney Case. Could Mark Sanchez start for another team in the NFL right now?
And we haven't even gotten to the worst part of the Sanchez act: Mark Sanchez consistently flunks the fifth quarter.
Against the Niners, a third-quarter interception came off a tipped pass. Against the Texans, a second-quarter pick also was tipped. Listen to Sanchez tell it, and he takes no responsibility.
Sanchez called the 49ers play "bad luck" after the ballgame. That's a totally unacceptable remark. It's the wrong attitude. It resonates with teammates and fans. Sanchez is consistently reluctant to point the thumb at himself, whether it is right or wrong. This isn't how quarterbacks act. This isn't how leaders act.
Juxtapose Sanchez's comments with Aaron Rodgers from this week. The Green Bay Packers blew a 21-3 lead in Indianapolis on Sunday. Rodgers, talking to ESPN Milwaukee on Tuesday, put the game and the entire 2-3 campaign on his shoulders. There was no mention of the bad pass protection, the Greg Jennings injury or the defense. Those issues are the real reason for Green Bay's record.
Sitting on the set of "Jets Post Game Live" on SNY watching Sanchez's press conference live on Monday night, I could see the proverbial steam coming out of the ears of my colleagues Ray Lucas and Joe Klecko. When Sanchez was done and we were back on the air, Klecko brilliantly summed up what he heard: "Sanchez is becoming a good loser."
Sanchez deflects. He talks about being in a rhythm, which is a not-so-veiled shot at Tim Tebow coming into the games and disrupting the flow. Sanchez talks about Cumberland making some catches and missing some. There is no emotion and certainly no accountability.
Contrast Sanchez's take to that of Chaz Schilens. The Jets receiver dropped the onside kick that would've put the Jets in a great position after a Joe McKnight return for a score. Schilens said he deserved all the blame for the loss.
Somewhere, Sanchez was probably nodding his head.
Oct. 10 will go down as a legendary day in New York sports. New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi stubbornly placed struggling Alex Rodriquez third in the team's batting order before a pivotal playoff game against the Baltimore Orioles. Then, in stunning fashion for the by-the-book Yankees skipper, Girardi pinch-hit Raul Ibanez for Rodriguez in the ninth inning with the Yanks down one. Ibanez homered to tie the game and then entrenched himself in New York lore with a game-winning blast in the 12th.
Earlier in the day, Rex Ryan said that Sanchez was his starter this week. He did not name him the starter for the rest of the year. It was a far cry from Rex's passionate defense of Sanchez in the past.
If Girardi can pinch hit for A-Rod, Ryan can bench Mark Sanchez.
I've managed to put 900 words on your screen only mentioning Tebow once. I like his energy, and the Jets need it. I know his limitations. I know his strengths. I'd start this week by using Tebow more in the Wildcat. And some point, Tebow will start to add energy and accountability.
In reality, the Jets don't have a quarterback. John Madden said it perfectly on our "Madden Football" show on SiriusXM NFL Radio when he said, "Maybe it isn't either. Instead, it's neither."
The swagger I saw from Sanchez in minicamp is gone. The play is awful. The act is worse.
Ask yourself this, Rex: What would Joe Girardi do?
Follow Adam Schein on Twitter @AdamSchein.