Never a dull moment for these New York Jets.
Just when it seemed like the excitement was over, with the offense failing to put up any points for three full quarters against the Arizona Cardinals, in comes Greg McElroy, and with a one-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jeff Cumberland, the Jets' season was hit with electroshock therapy.
Make no mistake; their playoff hopes are on life support, but it seemed like things might make a turn with McElroy in at quarterback. Then, the Jets made the switch back to Mark Sanchez, announcing the move on Wednesday morning.
Where does the team stand at this point? Where are things headed? Let's take a look in the quarterly State of the Union address.
Primary Talking Point
How long is Mark Sanchez's leash this Sunday?
The starting quarterback threw three interceptions against Arizona and was finally pulled for McElroy. The backup quarterback came in and led a touchdown drive, followed by another drive at the end of the game to help milk the clock.
The Jets are financially chained to Mark Sanchez for the 2013 season already, and, therefore, a switch is not likely. Why would the Jets open themselves up to a quarterback controversy for the 2013 season, during which they might have to justify benching Sanchez or perhaps even cutting him?
The Jets have to be hoping to get back to 8-8 at this point, at least, because it may be difficult to make that justification otherwise.
Does Mark Sanchez's confidence count?
In all seriousness, Tim Tebow's rib injury looms large during this quarterback controversy.
So does the ankle injury of tight end Dustin Keller, one of very few steady presences in the passing game for Mark Sanchez.
The nagging back injury of defensive tackle Sione Pouha continues to be an issue as he tries to get back to full health; the team has employed a four-man rotation on the defensive line, with Muhammad Wilkerson playing nearly all the snaps while Mike Devito, Kenrick Ellis and Quinton Coples keep the workload lighter for all parties involved.
The Jets have been searching for an explosive element in their running game, and it appears they have found just that in second-year back Bilal Powell—or, at least, the most explosive of the group. He averages just a shade under four yards per carry, but he had 58 yards on 12 carries (4.8 YPA) against the Cardinals.
The coaching staff has taken to Powell, who has approached a 50-50 split of the offensive snaps with fourth-year back Shonn Greene.
Landry finished Sunday's game with three tackles and an interception. He didn't have a perfect game, but his interception was a trademark Landry play, in which the safety baited quarterback Ryan Lindley into a throw he shouldn't have made.
For all the questions about his health headed into the season, Landry has been a mark of consistency for the Jets, has played 100 percent of the snaps in nine of the team's 12 games this year and has not fallen below 80 percent at all this season.
See "primary talking point," but wait, there's more!
Stock doesn't get much more down than Sanchez's passer rating these past three weeks. Also, if that's not enough, you can always check out some more very interesting stats in the "notebook" section on how his play effects the team's overall success.
It was not a good outing for the veteran defensive end. The defense as a whole stepped up, but Pace was a non-factor despite playing all 54 snaps. He finished the game with two tackles. He rushed the passer 24 times and didn't get within arm's reach a single time, according to ProFootballFocus.com, and also missed a tackle.
- The Jets held the Cardinals without a single conversion on third down, (0-for-15). The Jets ranked 31st in third-down defense up until a few weeks ago, but their performance this past week (part of a three-week stretch in which they have bettered their own mark by nearly seven percentage points) has helped their ailing third-down defensive rankings.
- Are Mark Sanchez's issues with ball security really news to Rex Ryan? Sanchez has the third-most interceptions over the past two seasons (31), behind Ryan Fitzpatrick and Philip Rivers (35 each). He holds a tie with Rivers for the most fumbles by a quarterback (20) over the past two years and has lost 13 of those fumbles, making for 44 total turnovers in the past 28 games (1.6 per game). Over the past two seasons, the Jets are 7-13 (.350) when their offense has more than one turnover (one of those wins was this past week, when Sanchez came out for McElroy).
- The defense gets a lot of misplaced blame for the troubles of the team. Yes, it ranks 22nd in scoring (10th in total defense, however, marking the fourth consecutive year in the top 10), and it ranked 20th in scoring last year, too. Did you know, though, that the Jets rank 25th in opponent's defensive points per game and ranked dead last in that stat in 2011? Also, their average starting field position on defense is 21st in the league, according to FootballOutsiders.com. The offense's struggles have spilled over to the defense in more ways than one.
The Jets have to win their next four games if they even want to consider playoff contention this year, but at this point, they should mostly be concerned about who leaves the season with their jobs.
The outlook is bleak in that regard, with the Jets sitting at 5-7 with just four games left. It's entirely likely, however, that the Jets could finish out the season 8-8. That would most likely help the Jets justify another year of the same regime.
The Jaguars, Titans, Chargers and Bills await, but at a combined record of 15-31 and not a single one of them above 5-7, the Jets could very well finish off the season right where they finished last year.
Then, they must ask themselves if more mediocrity is acceptable as they enter the 2013 offseason.
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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