From my small dorm room I rejoiced just like the Jets fans in attendance at MetLife Stadium this afternoon when Mark Sanchez was benched and Greg McElroy took the field in the third quarter. Since Week 3 of the season I have been saying that the Jets' answer at quarterback wasn't Mark Sanchez or the popular replacement, Tim Tebow. I have been saying that youngster McElroy should be given a shot to lead the Jets.
McElroy didn't dazzle in his relief appearance for Sanchez, but he did enough to win and executed a very nice play-action fake roll out and pass to Jeff Cumberland to beat the Cardinals 7-6.
McElroy had a pedestrian day passing, completing five of seven passes for 29 yards and the touchdown to Cumberland, but his presence seemed to spark the Jets. According to ESPN Stats and Information, in McElroy's four drives, the Jets racked up 152 yards and the only touchdown of the game. This was just 12 yards short of what Sanchez produced in 10 drives.
McElroy may have led the game-winning drive for the Jets, but what is lost in the midst of the new quarterback controversy is the fact that Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell combined for 162 yards on the ground and the Jets defense played a phenomenal game against an Arizona offense that was led by a dazed and confused Ryan Lindley.
Before I go any further, I am going to dispel any rumors of a Tim Tebow appearance in his hometown of Jacksonville. Sorry folks, Tebow went from the most polarizing player in the NFL to the biggest decoy in the NFL. End of story. Moving on...
Since a solid performance against St. Louis two weeks ago, Sanchez has sputtered in two straight home games. The inconsistencies have become expected to Jets fans and after three interceptions and a 6-0 deficit, Rex Ryan decided that he had seen enough.
With his three interceptions against Arizona, Sanchez now has 13 interceptions to 12 touchdowns on the season. Along with a mediocre completion percentage of 55 percent, Sanchez has underwhelmed once again and is on pace to have a similarly disappointing season.
McElroy, at a bare minimum, presents a breath of fresh air for the Jets. The third-year pro showed that he can play against a decent defense and deserves to start. McElroy started 27 games at Alabama, went 24-3 in those starts and won a national title. McElroy is a proven winner who might just need a chance to show his worth.
As ugly as the victory over Arizona was, this could have been a turn of the page for the franchise. Now, Ryan could go right back to Sanchez and give him a shot against a soft Jacksonville team, but wouldn't that just delay the inevitable? The Mark Sanchez era of the New York Jets has been a failure after his first two seasons as a game manager. When he was asked to become a play-maker he did not get the job done.
McElroy might not be the future of the franchise, but for right now, he deserves the chance to prove he fits into the future.