Keep, Trade or Cut These 6 Struggling NFL Players
Whenever a player(s) struggles during the course of a season, at some point that NFL team must make a concrete decision regarding the immediate future.
Tebow was a sensation with the Denver Broncos in 2011, but his playing time has been limited in New York. Sanchez, on the other hand, gave marginal improvement from his rookie season onward, and 2012 has echoed 2011's disappointment.
That said, what are Rex Ryan and the Jets to do?
Well, let's break down this conundrum along with a few others around pro football.
Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow: QBs, New York Jets
Week 14 is interesting regarding Tim Tebow and Mark Sanchez.
The Jets play at the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. And in an article by Paul Kuharsky of ESPN.com:
Rex Ryan is being coy about who he’ll play at quarterback for the Jets on Sunday in Jacksonville.
He could go back to Mark Sanchez. He could stick with Greg McElroy, who won Sunday against Arizona in relief. Or he could turn to Tim Tebow, who’s recovering from rib injuries and was inactive this past Sunday.
The storyline will be massive if Tebow gets the call.
Sanchez is in the midst of an abysmal campaign and Tebow's limited utilization doesn't offer New York's offense much hope. On the bright side, Greg McElroy proved he is capable of leading the team in a dire situation.
We must also take into account that Sanchez led Gang Green to two consecutive AFC championship games. Despite losing, that's still quite an accomplishment.
Not to mention, Jacksonville may have found a quarterback in Chad Henne, but the Jags still need a marquee/popular quarterback. Henne and Tebow at least draw some attention to the Jags, whereas Blaine Gabbert then becomes the odd-man out.
Tim Tebow—Trade to Jacksonville
Having Sanchez and McElroy battle for the starting role in 2013 at least creates competition. Also, taking a quarterback in the middle draft rounds is a good idea.
Mark Anderson: DE, Buffalo Bills
After the 2011 season, Mark Anderson looked like a great add for the Buffalo Bills.
Coming off a 10-sack year with the New England Patriots, he was expected to be a great complement opposite Mario Williams.
Instead, Anderson immensely underachieved prior to injury. With just 12 tackles and one sack through the first five games, Anderson simply disappointed.
And according to the Bills' official Twitter feed in early November:
Gailey: #Bills DE Mark Anderson had another procedure on his knee and will miss 2-3 additional weeks.—Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) November 12, 2012
This is just unfortunate, because the guy possesses some natural and raw talent. He is, however, 29 years old and has never recorded more than 31 tackles in a season.
Doug Free: Tackle, Dallas Cowboys
Doug Free has been struggling to protect Tony Romo all season.
And Adrian Clayborn of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers does put Free into perspective:
Doug Free can'tblock a soul unless he holding.....yea I'm talking Ish on IR! Lol— Adrian Clayborn (@AJaClay) December 3, 2012
Last week against the Eagles, Free gave up 1.5 sacks and had a holding penalty called against him. He had another holding penalty nullified by a defensive penalty.
For the season, Free has 12 accepted penalties (four holding, eight false starts) and two declined (both holding).
So, it's no wonder why Romo has been under duress much of the season.
And his mobility has extended plays, otherwise more sacks would have been given up. Factor in Dallas' erratic ground game and Free is a big part of the problem regarding Big D's lack of consistent execution.
Kevin Kolb, John Skelton and Ryan Lindley: QBs, Arizona Cardinals
If there's a quarterback situation direr than the Jets, it's that of the Arizona Cardinals.
Now, the lack of any pass protection has definitely not helped the cause. Include an unreliable ground game and these quarterbacks are dealing with quite a bit.
Nevertheless, the first part of an efficient offense comes in the form of pre-snap reads and making in-game adjustments. None of Arizona's quarterbacks help the offensive line before the snap, and hot-reads are far and few between.
Had any of the three been consistent at making checks and audibles before the snap, 48 sacks and 13 interceptions wouldn't have happened. In other words, not all the dismal offensive production can go to the offensive line.
Here, we see Kevin Kolb having produced the best. Unfortunately, Kolb hasn't played since mid October. Thereafter, it was on John Skelton and rookie Ryan Lindley to try and get Arizona back on track.
Well, this duo has combined for only two touchdowns, 10 interceptions and a 51.6 completion percentage. Also, in an article by Kent Somers of Arizona Central Sports:
The pressure on Whisenhunt will intensify because of his decision to stick with rookie quarterback Ryan Lindley through the entire game.
Whisenhunt contemplated making a quarterback change but decided that Lindley gave the team its best chance to win.
In short, the veteran stays and another quarterback must get drafted this spring.
Arizona can go a few ways in the draft. Either trading up for Geno Smith or taking a guy like Matt Barkley, Tyler Wilson or Tyler Bray would create a better quarterback situation.
Jared Gaither: Tackle, San Diego Chargers
The San Diego Chargers have to get more consistently reliable pass protection for Philip Rivers.
If not, the Denver Broncos will reign supreme in the AFC West courtesy of a stellar pass rush.
In Southern California, Tackle Jared Gaither is a major issue.
The Chargers left tackle was placed on season-ending injured reserve with a groin injury. He appeared in just four games this season after signing in March a four-year, $24.5 million contract with an $8 million signing bonus.
"We've given Jared Gaither every opportunity to be a part of this team," coach Norv Turner said, referring to this season. "It just hasn't worked out."
Factor in his continuous durability concerns and San Diego needs to move on.
Currently riding a four-game losing streak and sporting a 4-8 record, the Bolts are on pace to land a top 10 draft pick. Looking at the abundance of top potential offensive tackle talent in the 2013 draft, San Diego's future must start over with a prospective rookie.
Follow John Rozum on Twitter.