I don’t understand the mixed signals that the Jets brass have recently given Mark Sanchez. First, after the 2011 season, they declared that they still see him as their franchise quarterback despite a slight regression in his performance. Then, they decided to kick the tires on Peyton Manning.
Now I’m not suggesting they didn’t do the right thing by exploring the possibility of signing one of the greatest quarterbacks in league history. However, there was certainly damage control to be done in terms of the ego and psyche of Sanchez, given the Jets' pursuit of Manning.
After the Jets decided they were out of the Peyton Manning sweepstakes, they publicly backed Sanchez as their quarterback of the future and restructured his contract, which was seen by many as an apology for pursuing Manning in the first place.
They locked him in for big money in both 2012 and 2013. Then, they signed Drew Stanton to be Sanchez’s backup. The Jets’ QB situation seemed to be resolved, for better or worse.
However, with the Jets’ recent acquisition of Tim Tebow, there seem to be more questions than answers as it relates to the quarterback position going forward.
General manager Mike Tannenbaum still states publicly that Mark Sanchez is the Jets’ starting quarterback. He seems to view Tebow as the primary ball handler in new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano’s famed Wildcat offense. Most football people will agree that Sanchez, while still flawed in his own right, is the better option than Tebow from a pure quarterbacking standpoint.
The problem is that Tebow, despite his obvious limitations as a passer, has developed an enormous following with millions of fans. He is arguably the most popular player in the NFL.
As bad as Sanchez has struggled at times over the past couple of seasons, nobody was publicly clamoring for Mark Brunell. But with Tebow waiting in the wings, you can be assured that both the fans and the media will not be as kind as they relate to Sanchez.
Maybe this is exactly what Sanchez needs. Maybe he needs someone behind him on the depth chart who is enough of a threat that it will push him to finally develop into an upper echelon quarterback. This is obviously the scenario that I am rooting for.
But I worry that Sanchez, whose maturity and leadership abilities have recently come into question, will spend too much time listening to the critics and looking over his shoulder to maintain a firm handle on his primary focus, which should be to lead the Jets back into the playoffs and beyond.