If New York gets destroyed at the hands of the top team in the AFC, and if Sanchez submits another performance in which his passer rating is sub-60, Rex Ryan will have no more excuses.
If the Jets fall to 2-3, the masses will rise with even more fury than they did last week, when Ryan's team was shut out by the San Francisco 49ers.
If the Jets have another performance like the one they had last week, there will be no more excuses for Sanchez. It will be Tebow time.
Back when the Tebow-to-the-Jets trade was first announced last March, Week 5 was the milestone many of us put on our calendars as the week of reckoning.
By Week 5, we would know a few things about the Jets—and about Sanchez. The consensus was that if we reached the end of Week 5 and the Jets were in peril with Sanchez at the helm, then there would need to be a change.
It just so happens that there would be another starting-caliber quarterback waiting in the wings. Go figure.
So here we are, on the precipice of that critical juncture, and Sanchez has one last chance to prove himself. Make no mistake, if Sanchez kills it on Sunday against a team no one in the NFL has been able to come close to conquering thus far, most of us will stop talking. At least for a week.
Who should be the starter if Sanchez struggles against Houston?
There is no better time for Sanchez to earn his job than against the best team in the league. The Tebow vs. Sanchez debate may not necessarily end, right then and there, but there will be a temporary ceasefire.
If, however, Sanchez blows it once again, it will be time to explore other options. If it's halftime and Sanchez has already blown it, those other options may even present themselves in the third quarter.
Maybe Tebow needs to have a moment; maybe he needs to step in for Sanchez against the NFL's new Goliath and lead the kind of stirring comeback that set the world abuzz in Week 6 last year when he took over for a hapless Kyle Orton and nearly led Denver to a win.
Tebow may not be any better than Sanchez, but that's not the point. The point is that whatever Sanchez is doing, it isn't working, and the Jets have another quarterback on their bench who has proven to be a winner when he gets an opportunity.
That is a luxury most teams do not have, and yet Rex Ryan seems utterly opposed to taking advantage of it.
People are already talking about the Jets' 2012 season being a wash. This team has suffered devastating injuries to its best defensive player (Darrelle Revis) and to one of its most significant offensive players (Santonio Holmes). The Jets are lingering at 2-2 in a year when, at this point, the AFC East is still up for grabs.
They need to start showing signs of life, and Sanchez hasn't been able to provide those signs. He hasn't had a good performance since Week 1, when he beat up on one of the most pathetic teams in the NFL.
Sanchez has thrown almost as many interceptions as touchdowns and is not even completing half of his pass attempts.
Meanwhile, there is a perfectly capable quarterback sitting on the bench—a quarterback capable of providing the kind of "spark" that can reverse the course of a season—and he's just watching. Either out of loyalty or unreasonable stubbornness, Rex Ryan refuses to play his trump card.
This is it. This is Sanchez's last chance. If you're not a rookie, five weeks is enough time to prove your worth.
If, once again, he doesn't prove a thing, that should be it.