Greg McElroy: Mark Sanchez's Play Places New Jets Starter in Win-Win Situation

Ian Hanford@Ian_HanfordFeatured ColumnistDecember 19, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 02:  Greg McElroy #14 of the New York Jets celebrates throwing his first touchdown in the NFL to  Jeff Cumberland #86 against the Arizona Cardinals during their game at at MetLife Stadium on December 2, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Jets won 7-6.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

Greg McElroy may not be Peyton Manning, but at least he's not Mark Sanchez.

Because of Sanchez's inept play this season, McElroy cannot fail as the Jets starter against the San Diego Chargers on Sunday.

McElroy is entering a terrible situation. He has very little talent around him, the offensive line has struggled all season and the Jets can't do anything without adding drama to the situation.

The good thing for him though is that Jets fans are so conditioned to expect this, and the season is such a lost cause, that anything slightly mediocre will be a breath of fresh air.

McElroy is 5-of-7 for 29 yards and one game-winning touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals earlier this season. He has looked good in his previous action, but this is going to be a completely different animal as the team's starting quarterback.

If he were coming in at any other time, things might be different, but Sanchez's performance on Monday night granted him immunity. Not only did Sanchez commit five absurd turnovers, but he almost single-handedly ended New York's postseason hopes.

That makes the last two games of the season mostly meaningless. It allows the Jets to begin their rebuilding process a little early as they begin to find out what other guys are capable of, and McElroy will benefit from that experience.

It appears more and more likely that the Jets will bring in a new quarterback for next season, but no one will know for sure until it happens. Until then, it appears that McElroy will have a chance to be the Jets' starter next season.

Entering into a pressure-free situation will only benefit him. It's not like Jets coaches and fans hope that he plays poorly, but at least he's learning now rather than when the games really matter. At the least, he's gaining experience to be a quality backup in the coming years.

Sanchez has made life easier on the next Jets quarterback. Whether it's McElroy for the final two weeks of the season or someone else to start the 2013 season, Sanchez has already shown New York what the floor looks like.

It can only go up from here, unless McElroy shows up and throws seven interceptions in one game.

Some people may call for Tim Tebow as the Jets starter, but he would carry his own set of unique expectations. McElroy enters with a clean slate, using Sunday's game to begin building his own NFL reputation.

He can thank Sanchez for making that situation a little bit less intimidating.