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Cardinals vs. Jets: What Mark Sanchez Benching Means for New York

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 02:  Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York Jets stands on the sideline after he is pulled from the game in the third quarter against the Arizona Cardinals on December 2, 2012 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The New York Jets defeated the Arizona Cardinals 7-6.(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Erik FrenzSenior Writer IDecember 2, 2012

The benching of Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez was different from most times we see a starter benched.

Most times, a benching will happen late in a blowout win or a blowout loss. This time, it came right in the heart of a 3-0 defensive struggle. Sanchez had already thrown three interceptions. He was completing less than 50 percent of his passes for less than five yards per attempt. The Jets hadn't scored any points.

When the New York Jets offense struggled in the preseason, it took a touchdown from Greg McElroy to finally break a scoreless drought.

In the third quarter, the offense needed a spark worse than a yule log. They caught fire with McElroy under center and marched down the field with a 10-play, 69-yard scoring drive that was capped off with a one-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jeff Cumberland.

That was just the short-term impact of the move; we have yet to see if there will be long-term repercussions as well.

Sanchez has struggled all year, so this is nothing new, but even after the 49-19 loss to the Patriots, Jets head coach Rex Ryan defended Sanchez by saying, "[The offensive struggles are] hardly on one guy. I thought Mark threw the ball well. Again, Mark will be the starting QB this week."

Let's break that quote down, step-by-step, to see if we can get a read on how this might take shape going forward:

  1. Last week: "It's hardly on one guy." This week: It was one guy. The Jets were running the ball well and finished with 177 yards on 43 carries, but their offense stalled out with three interceptions.
  2. Last week: "I thought Mark threw the ball well." This week: Sanchez did not throw the ball well. At all.
  3. Last week: "Again, Mark will be the starting QB this week."  This week: Well, isn't that the million-dollar question?

There's no way of knowing for sure who the starter will be until Rex comments on it one way or the other, but one thing we know for sure is that it probably won't be Tim Tebow. Sanchez has had performances just as bad as what we witnessed today, and he hasn't been benched for it in the past. That may have something to do with the fact that Tebow was the top backup option.

Time is running out on the 2012 season, and the Jets don't have many choices but to try to make the necessary changes to keep their playoff hopes alive.

They did just that with the win today, and McElroy may have done just enough to warrant getting another shot, but the futures of both could be intertwined depending on the final decision at quarterback.

 

Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless specified otherwise, all quotes are obtained firsthand or via team press releases.

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