With Sanchez benched for Week 16 (via Rich Cimini of ESPN)—and presumably for the final week of the season as well—the 26-year-old can either choose to fade away into irrelevance or embrace the negativity that's been sent his way recently and use it to fuel his offseason improvement.
The Jets are a disaster at the moment, that's for sure. But Sanchez's game needs a makeover every bit as much as New York's roster.
Finding motivation to improve on his weaknesses this coming spring and summer won't be difficult. All Sanchez has to do is turn on the television for a few minutes nowadays to hear just how poorly he's played this season. It's hard for him to argue with 13 touchdowns and 17 interceptions, though.
Of course, football pundits and bitter fans aren't wrong to rip Sanchez for his pitiful play this past season, especially since it's his fourth year as a pro. And if Sanchez doesn't turn the criticism into fuel for improvement, his NFL career will be short-lived and he'll be remembered as one of the all-time biggest busts.
Many people forget that the Jets drafted Sanchez with the No. 5 pick in the first round of the 2009 NFL draft. Unfortunately, in Sanchez's case, there are expectations that come attached to being a top five selection. And needless to say, the former USC Trojan has yet to live up to them.
But Sanchez can forget about expectations for the time being. Right now, silencing the negative chatter and making steady improvement should be the only two items on his mind.
It is quite possible though that Sanchez has already peaked as an NFL quarterback. We will know for sure soon enough. 2013 will mark year No. 5 in the NFL for Sanchez, and if he puts out another 55 percent completion- and 20 turnover-type season, we'll know he took the wrong route at season's end and isn't cut out for success as an NFL starter.
Yes, Mark Sanchez may be out of chances to prove he belongs in the Big Apple. But he still controls his NFL future, perhaps for the last time.
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