Mark Sanchez Benched, What Does Future Hold for Greg McElroy?

Jeremy Sickel@ IIIDecember 3, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 02:  Greg McElroy #14 of the New York Jets celebrates a call in favor of the Jets with teammate Konrad Reuland #87 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)
Elsa/Getty Images

With Tim Tebow inactive for Sunday's home game against the Arizona Cardinals, the New York Jets had no choice but to activate third-string quarterback Greg McElroy for the first time this season.

While starter Mark Sanchez has fallen on hard times, no one expected McElroy to actually see the field Sunday.

That is until Sanchez completed under 50 percent of his passes for just 97 yards and three interceptions. While indicative of a horrid 2012 season, Sunday's performance was by far his worst.

The Jets were able to eke out a 7-6 victory on the arm of McElroy, who threw a one-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jeff Cumberland to begin the fourth quarter.

Now sitting at 5-7—and a miracle short of a postseason berth—it is a safe bet that Sanchez has taken his last snap in 2012, assuming both McElroy and Tebow remain healthy.

The Jets now have to make the decision on who will lead this team next week and beyond. And it may boil down to who head coach Rex Ryan thinks can help save his job at this point.

Does Ryan go with the more traditional passer in McElroy or the unconventional playmaker in Tebow?

His decision will have a vast impact on the future of both quarterbacks—maybe more so McElroy, who is literally starting from scratch with Sunday's appearance.

Tebow may never get complete control over an NFL offense. While he has shown flashes and possesses a winning pedigree, his shortcomings under center may be too much for any team to overcome long term.

Ryan may already be on the outs with the Jets, but showing the propensity to make sound football decisions can serve as an audition for another shot elsewhere at some point in his career.

It may seem the Jets need to eventually validate trading for Tebow. However, what is wrong with the polarizing quarterback as a career backup?

McElroy being inactive for the entire season might have more to do with the Jets impassively saving face on Tebow's acquisition as it does each of their abilities to play the position.

Keeping Tebow as the backup and starting McElroy for the final four games won't have as much impact on this season as it will the futures of Ryan and all three quarterbacks.

With Tebow's status in this league already taking shape, McElroy can make a name for himself with this opportunity—should Ryan make the right call.


Follow Jeremy on Twitter @KCPopFlyBoy.