Mark Sanchez becomes target of Jets frustration
No quarterback in NFL history has won more road playoff games than Mark Sanchez. The offensive leader of the Jets won his fourth a year ago, accomplishing the feat in a span of just two seasons. It’s an amazing feat, when considering some of the names passing through the league that failed to achieve the same. But for all the hoopla it created yesterday, it means absolutely nothing today.
The 2011 Jets failed to qualify for the postseason, after reaching the AFC championship game in each of the past two seasons. The result is a topsy-turvy locker room searching for targets to unload frustrations. And with an offense that finished 25th ranked in the NFL, and a quarterback committing 9 turnovers in the final three games, it is Sanchez’ fixed in the cross-hairs of resentment.
“We have to bring in another quarterback that will make him work at practice,” said one player. “He’s lazy and content because he knows he’s not going to be benched.”—NY Daily News
At USC, Sanchez was a star performer on one of college football’s biggest stages. The Jets would make him a first-round draft selection, citing not only the skillset, but also the ability to deal with the bright lights and media daggers that often accompany big city football. The lights of New York burned with more intensity, and local beat writers swung sharper swords, but the Southern California native was able to cope, as he settled into his new surroundings.
But Sanchez entered the NFL with no preparation for mutiny, and now stands several shipmates fewer on a sinking ship. Quarterbacks will often lose games, and even fan support, but the alarm sounds loudest when he begins to lose his team.
Rex Ryan has expressed full support of his quarterback, since naming him the Jets starter as a rookie in 2009. By all indication, nothing has changed. Any changes in the offense will begin with coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, who has interviewed for positions outside the organization and is unlikely to return. Sanchez improving under an new offensive coordinator and system is speculation, but one thing is for certain, he couldn’t possibly get worse.
Sanchez finished with a career high 26 touchdown passes to 18 interceptions. 8 of the 18 picks came during the playoff push of the final three games, which is where much of the resentment was formed. The quarterback was also sacked a career high 39 times, raising an issue of protection to be addressed in the upcoming months. The result is a postseason whiff and locker room divided, with teammates already lobbying for the aging Peyton Manning to replace error prone youth.
Too often I hear that Pete Carroll was correct in saying the inexperienced Sanchez would have benefited from another year under center at USC. But that reasoning only holds true for his rookie season, with on-the-job training being greater than any preparation the Trojans could provide. After three seasons as an NFL starter, inexperience is no longer the culprit behind the struggles. There are several factors, one being Sanchez’ decision making, as well as the Jets as a team.
Rookie quarterback Greg McElroy painted a picture of the Jets locker room in a postgame interview following a loss in the season finale.
“It’s the first time I’ve ever been around extremely selfish individuals,” McElroy said. “There were people within our locker room that didn’t care whether we won or lost as long as they got theirs, they had a good game individually. And that’s the disappointing thing.”-—Huffington Post
While Sanchez is an easy scapegoat for season failure, it’s apparent that team struggles are more deeply rooted in leadership—or lack thereof. Body language alone reveals Sanchez having little to no command of the huddle. And with dismal performances in games versus more inferior rosters, it is evident that Ryan failed to command his team.