No matter what happens, Mark Sanchez shouldn't be under center at kickoff on Sunday.
The New York Jets should have learned their lesson by now: Sanchez isn't working out, at least this season. Whatever's wrong with him, he had about 12 weeks to figure it out. He and Rex Ryan had three months to concoct some way to improve his production and this team's record. It didn't work.
The time for change was about a month ago, but that's beside the point. There's no sense in looking back, but this season isn't over yet, and the Jets aren't out of the playoff hunt. That means there still could be something to look forward to, and someone else deserves the chance to help New York end this season on a high note.
This doesn't mean that Greg McElroy is guaranteed to be the Jets' 2012 savior, nor does it mean Tebow will be. But let's assume that fractured ribs will keep Tebow out of contention for at least another week, leaving team officials with a choice between Sanchez and McElroy. McElroy does, at the very least, provide some hope that things could be looking up for New York soon, and that's something Sanchez has failed to instill in this team and in this fan base this season.
In years past, back when Sanchez's numbers weren't great but the team was still winning, the Jets' coaching staff insisted they look at wins and losses when assessing a quarterback's true impact rather than statistics that may or may not be meaningless. Well, that win-loss record this year doesn't look too good, nor do those meaningless statistics. Nothing about Sanchez's game looks good. From the outset of the season, he has seemed frustrated and devoid of confidence. He ended 2011 with a demoralizing losing streak and seemed to pick up this year right where he left off.
It shouldn't have taken Rex Ryan this long to seek other solutions, but now that he has, let's rejoice.
But let's not overstate what McElroy did on Sunday when he replaced Sanchez in the third quarter of the game. He led New York to an excruciatingly slim 7-6 win over Arizona. Was it impressive? Not incredibly. But it was something the Jets desperately needed, and it was something Sanchez seemed utterly incapable of delivering.
Sanchez couldn't score at all against the Cardinals. McElroy did it in a third of the time. So there's that.
Before he was replaced, Sanchez had failed to put a single point on the board. McElroy came in and engineered a 10-play touchdown drive that was just enough. He was the hero, and the Jets got a win. For that reason alone, he at least deserves an opportunity to see if he can replicate that effort on Sunday against Jacksonville.
In many ways, this is the perfect time for McElroy to get his first start of the season. Jacksonville is the worst team in the NFL, and objectively, he should be able to win—maybe even dominate. A solid performance against the lowly Jaguars would give both him and the team some much-needed confidence heading into the final three games of the season, all of which are must-wins.
McElroy may be unproven, but so is Sanchez, at least this season. And one thing McElroy has been able to do—and one thing Sanchez hasn't—is inspire this team. He's given the Jets hope that maybe there is a solution to this season-long problem.
Sometimes, change can be good if only because it provides a little bit of hope. And hope is pretty much all the Jets have to run on at this point.