Here's how you destroy a quarterback selected with the No. 5 overall pick over the span of two seasons following two consecutive trips to the AFC Championship Game:
Get rid of his favorite targets. Fail to replace them. Go from a bad offensive coordinator to a worse one. Sprinkle in a Wildcat package with the most controversial quarterback in the NFL, and you're done.
Rather, Mark Sanchez is done.
Yes, I am aware that the New York Jets owe Sanchez $8.25 million for next year, and the Jets would drop an $18 million a-bomb on their salary cap if they cut him. Yes, I am aware that very simple fact was what led me to write just weeks ago that Sanchez was the only choice to be the Jets starter.
The Jets don't have many options. Starting Mark Sanchez for another year should not be considered among them.
When the Jets pulled Sanchez for backup quarterback Greg McElroy against the Arizona Cardinals, they proved that there is, indeed, a leash on him. Could that leash extend through a night that saw him go 13-of-28 (46.4 percent) for 131 yards (4.7 YPA), one touchdown, four interceptions and a 32.6 passer rating?
Consider that the Tennessee Titans rank:
- 30th in defensive passer rating (97.4)
- 25h in YPA (7.5)
- 32nd in completion percentage (67.8)
- 27th in passing yards per game (250.8)
The only thing worse than the Titans defense this season was the Jets' performance against them on Monday.
It's not entirely his fault, but at this point, it makes no sense to keep trotting Sanchez out week after week with the same result.
The Jets had one last opportunity to make something of their season, and to do it in front of a national audience. The way Sanchez played against the Titans, the Jets have no choice but to move on, if only because Rex Ryan painted himself into a corner when he announced Sanchez would be the starter against the Jaguars.
"The thing Mark has to do a better job of is protect the ball, and know when it's okay to take chances and know when you shouldn't," he said at the time. "I believe that Mark is going to do a better job of that."
That belief, as it has been all season, was misplaced.
Sanchez did the opposite of what Rex asked him to do—four times.
He has regressed before our eyes this season, but that came to a head this week.
Say what you will about why that's the case—could Mike Tannenbaum have surrounded him with better talent? Could Tony Sparano have called better plays? Were the Jets completely disorganized on offense? Could his receivers do a better job of getting open and catching the ball? Did the Jets pick the worst possible time to trot out Tim Tebow? Could Sanchez have made better reads? Not thrown into quadruple coverage?
Yes times seven.
Who should start at quarterback in Week 16?
Could the Jets make a change at quarterback again?
"I'm not ready to say who will be the quarterback in the next game," Rex said following the loss to the Titans.
He may not be ready, but he knows.
If Sanchez's guaranteed money had "absolutely zero" to do with his status as the starting quarterback, as Rex said prior to Week 14 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the decision shouldn't be all that hard to make.
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.