Assessing the Roster- Quarterback Tweet
With the season all but over I plan on going over the 2012 roster group by group with a new unit posted each day
Mark Sanchez- It is hard to sugarcoat anything with Sanchez. Sanchezí high point as a player came in 2010. He was clearly a better QB that season than he was in 2009 and made a nice progression from his rookie year. Some of the progression was smoke and mirrors due to a fluke low number of interceptions based on how many dropped picks he had, but in general the signs were positive. I think people tend to forget that he did make plays down the stretch of these games- against the Texans, Lions, Browns, etcÖ- to win because of the inconsistency that often put the Jets in the position where they needed to make plays to win those games. Things went downhill for him really after that Ravens game in 2011 which seemed to really rattle him, but as the talent level of the team has diminished Sanchez has fallen apart badly.
I think the Jets were hoping to get a game manager with him this season. The game manager is someone that needs to complete a relatively high percentage of passes and be counted on to generate anywhere from 170 to 200 yards a game. Not only did Mark struggle with accuracy but was so unreliable that he had 7 games where he threw for less than 140 yards, two of which he failed to even reach 100 yards. Thatís not a game manager thatís a game burden. With his confidence shattered Sanchez was arguably the worst starting QB in the NFL. Pro Football Focus ranks Sanchez 25 out of 29 QBs in their passing category of players taking at least 50% of their team snaps. Football Outsiders ranks him 39 out of 39 in DYAR and 35 out of 39 in DVOA. Based on difficulty of throw, which are numbers that I track using the raw PFF database, he threw for about 340 less yards than the average QB would given the length of throw and had 5 more turnovers on the season. Thatís about 11.5% worse than the average in yards and 39% worse in interceptions. That doesnít even take into account fumbles.
At Sanchezí price tag there is no argument that he is the worst value QB in the game. Of course that same price tag might bring him back next season, but to consider him a starter or even of starting quality at this point is completely misguided. There have been rumors that Sanchez will compete for the job next season. Im not sure how that can work. Sanchez needs a new start because he has become the villain in NY. There is a thought that he does not work hard, which was begun by an ESPN analyst a year or two back. I disagree with that notion, but it has picked up steam. He does not handle criticism well and that is apparent to the fans. He is also a celebrity QB and that irritates fans because he is living a public life (which is not his fault) that fans donít think he earned.
In my opinion, Sanchez has always been the type of player you need to build something strong around. As you look at the team around him you realize you can not hide a player like that. If you put Sanchez on the Arizona Cardinals he could be hidden. Even the Minnesota Vikings, which donít have the weapons at receiver Arizona has, could hide Sanchezí deficiencies. If the Jets truly see him as having a future then they have to stop their overinvestment on the defensive side of the football and begin drafting high for pure offensive talent and overspending for offensive talent. It means upgrading the offensive line and likely having the highest spend in the league at the position. It means getting a workhorse back to take pressure off the passing game. It means bringing in reliable, but not flashy, wide receivers. This is all easier said then done but it is what must be accomplished to turn him from a burden into a passable player. Right now they need a shift from him, but if their financial commitment dictates their future with him then they need to adjust philosophies accordingly.
Tim Tebow- Clearly the Jets have no use for Tebow who flopped from day 1 and was never given a real opportunity by the coaching staff to compete in the games. Maybe the staff really felt that if they put him out there on punts and then as a receiver/tight end he would eventually come to them and say ďId like to do this rather than be backup QBĒ. Whether there was a disconnect with Tony Sparano or Rex Ryan is not the point with Tebow anymore. The teams actions suggest they see no future for him here and that has to be an organization decision not a Ryan one. The only way Tebow would remain here next season is if the Jets cleaned house and hired Josh McDaniel as head coach. He is the only person in the NFL who seems to believe in Tebow. Tebow is under contract to the Jets for two more years but they will certainly be parting ways this offseason. The only question is can the Jets trade someone for him or will they just be forced to release him.
Greg McElroy- It didnít take long for the fans to realize just how bad McElroy is. There is usually a reason why a player is never active in this league and McElroy showed it in his first real stint as QB. He has a very weak arm and was completely overwhelmed by the speed of the football game. When he came in against Arizona the Jets primary weapon was handing the ball off so he didnít have to do much. When he was asked to do something against the Chargers he couldnít do anything. He is under contract for two more seasons.
Itís a bad group. It features one of the worst starters in the NFL and nobody equipped to replace him, which is really saying something. The team desperately needs a veteran presence on this team that you can count on for an NFL quality game if Sanchez falters. Why they did not go after Kyle Orton last year is difficult to understand. The Cowboys probably would have outbid for him anyway, but that was the type of player this team needed, not Drew Stanton or Tim Tebow. I think they need to make a hard push next year for Matt Moore. Heís the right fit to be that emergency QB and should fit within the budget. Other options will be to pursue Michael Vick, who is a more athletic version of Tim Tebow rather than a pure QB, trade for Matt Flynn or Alex Smith, or to go back in the draft. The issue I have with the draft is I donít want the current staff to pick any QB given the awful track record nor do I want to take a flier on a mid round prospect because Russell Wilson had a good rookie year and Kirk Cousins had one good game. I donít need to post the names but if you get a chance go and look at the draft history of those 3rd and 4th round picks.
Some of the other options carry high risks as well. Vick is as inaccurate as Sanchez and also a polarizing figure. If you get Vick you are ripping apart your offense to a spread style, with most things coming out of shotgun to let Vick see the field. Its not terribly different than what you would run with Tebow, except Vick can make throws Tim cant and is a more gifted runner. Someone like Smith busted until the 49ers got the pieces around him. Unless the Jets were going to invest heavy in upgrading the run game Smith might give you nothing. Its definitely not a drop in replacement. You need alot more help than just Smith. The rest of the market are players like Flynn that never won a chance to start or flopped as a starter asked to carry the load. Id say there is a 50/50 chance that none of these three current names will be on the roster in September of 2013, but Im not sure there is a real upgrade out there either.