Mark Sanchez, New York Jets doomed by lack of planning

In his attempt to explain the unexplainable -- a three-way quarterback competition during Week 14 of a 17-week season -- New York Jets coach Rex Ryan dug deep into his near-empty bag Monday to pull out the only line left in a season of failed rhetoric.

This decision, he said, would be based on "what gives us the best opportunity to beat Jacksonville." A pretty innocent quote, sure. Nobody should have expected Ryan to say anything else, not given the precedent that has already been set.

But now that Ryan has put Sanchez back in the big-boy seat, just three days after he sent him to timeout, we can conclusively view this situation as what it is: This is the Jets' way. No plan beyond today. No future beyond the moment. Carpe diem, everybody! Man, Henry David Thoreau would be so proud.

Indeed, as Ryan said, it's all about finding a way to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. Just like the decision to give Sanchez a significant extension was all about that moment, with no consideration for the future. Just like the decision to trade for Tim Tebow was all about that moment, with no regard for his actual ability, both good and bad.

Case in point: The decision to extend Sanchez's deal by three years, even while the rest of the NFL community could clearly see his vulnerabilities, created some nice salary-cap space for the time being. It would have been a savvy front-office move, if not for the fact that Sanchez had yet to finish a season with a passer rating above 80.

But wait, don't forget about all of the other reasons that the team decided to extend Sanchez. You know, like the failed flirtations with Peyton Manning, another mismanaged effort that saw the Jets neglect to consider the long-term repercussions of Manning predictably deciding to pass on joining a circus like the one in New York.

Everyone will say the Jets made the right decision to start Sanchez on Sunday, and that's fine. But making the "right" decision shouldn't be confused with making a "good" decision. So if Sanchez beats the Jaguars (ranked 28th against the pass) this week, and if he beats the Tennessee Titans (ranked 26th against the pass) next week, are the Jets going to assume they escaped this quandary in better shape? Please.

Of course, they will. After all, for the moment, the problem will have been solved. And it's all about the moment. It's all about squinting your eyes so tightly that anything in the distance is too blurry to worry about.

Man, if only the Jets could have quietly benched Sanchez last week, while Tebow was inactive with broken ribs, only to have Greg McElroy provide Ryan with his very own Colin Kaepernick moment. Then he'd never have to look back. He could justify keeping Tebow on the sideline. He could justify paying Sanchez $8.25 million next year to hold a clipboard. Alas, it didn't happen.

No Kaepernick here. No Russell Wilson. No "hot hand" to get the Jets out of another jam. And it should be no surprise, either.

The Jets are left to start a quarterback whose body of work is extensive enough to conclusively show exactly what he is. Since 1980, there have been just three other quarterbacks selected with a top-five draft pick who have played four seasons without a passer rating above 80. The names? Rick Mirer. Tim Couch. And Joey Harrington. That's the company we're talking about here -- a handful of quarterbacks who were given every chance to succeed and never really did.

Amazingly, the Jets have managed at least one situation with the future in mind: They've left Tebow on the bench. After all, if they played Tebow, they'd have to alter the entire offense. And that would require -- gulp -- planning beyond one week!

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We don't even need to begin diving into everything wrong with the way this team has managed the Tebow situation, from beginning to end. It's rather easy to summarize in just one quick sentence: The Jets traded for a player who was notoriously bad in practice but a notorious winner in games, only to decide not to play him much in games because he's bad in practice. Brilliant, indeed.

Rather than enter into the dark world of unknowns, the Jets will simply continue to live in their failed present. They will keep living without a good plan for the future, making decisions with a one-week-at-a-time mentality that only really works when it's a cliché coming from the likes of Tom Brady or Bill Belichick.

So go ahead, Jets. Seize that day. Enjoy the moment. At this point, it's probably the smart thing to do. Especially when your job tomorrow is far from guaranteed.

Follow Jeff Darlington on Twitter @JeffDarlington.

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