It really started late last season.
Then, out of nowhere, the Jets decided to ink Sanchez to a three-year extension in March, undoubtedly aided by head coach Rex Ryan.
It sent the Jets on a downward spiral from the very beginning. Then, when they probably should have benched Sanchez after a 3-6 start, "they" (aka Rex Ryan) stuck to their guns, opting to continue starting the fourth-year quarterback.
Some of the best coaches in the NFL are stubborn this way, unflinching in their philosophy, determined to prove it's their way or the highway.
But you also need to be flexible when things are working and you need to identify your personnel properly. Ryan failed to do both of these things and now the Jets are 6-8, out of the playoffs again and still hurting from the embarrassing 14-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans.
In the end, Ryan was wrong about Sanchez; that's really what it comes down to. If Sanchez had led the Jets to the playoffs this season, Ryan's bullheaded nature would have been commended instead of criticized.
But it wasn't just that the 50-year-old coach stood by Sanchez; it's that he did so without much justification. Sanchez has averaged 6.41 yards per pass attempt this season, 30th among qualifying quarterbacks, and he's tossed 13 touchdowns to 17 interceptions.
Will Mark Sanchez start for the Jets in 2013?
And Sanchez was performing poorly early in the season, it's not like he all of a sudden started to tank. If you look at the Jets' first nine games during their 3-6 start, you could justifiably say he had a grand total of two good games (against the Buffalo Bills in Week 1 and against the New England Patriots in Week 7).
At that point, Ryan was hoping Sanchez would live up to his extension, instead of knowing so. When people asked him why he insisted on starting Sanchez over Tim Tebow or rookie Greg McElroy, he simply said he felt Sanchez was the best man for the job. No details were included. You know, details like why he felt this way or what made Sanchez stand out from the rest.
The reality is, Sanchez has never stood out from the rest, and Ryan finally acknowledged that this week when he named McElroy the starting quarterback for Sunday's game against the San Diego Chargers (per Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News).
If Ryan and the Jets can learn anything from this disaster of a season, it's that you can't simply will something to happen; you also need the proper personnel to succeed in this league.