New York Jets: Post-Draft Thoughts: Why Did the Jets Draft a QB?

Victoria SterlingCorrespondent IMay 20, 2011

PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 23:  Quarterback Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York Jets looks to pass against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the 2011 AFC Championship game at Heinz Field on January 23, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Steelers won 24-19. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images



Can someone please explain to me why the Jets drafted Greg McElroy?    A young accomplished QB?  Attention New York Jets!!!!  You already have a young accomplished QB.  His name is Mark Sanchez.  You know, The Sanchize?!   What on earth are you doing?  (Before we go any further, let me make clear that this is not a takedown of McElroy. 

I am sure he is a tremendous fellow and obviously has enough skills and success to realize his dream and get drafted to the NFL.  He should be congratulated.)  No, what I question is why?  Why take a QB at all, Jets?  The defensive picks I like.  They make sense.  Wide receiver picks also OK given that we have no idea how free agency will shake out with the current wide receivers.  Can’t go wrong with an extra running back.  I’m OK with that too.


But QB?  You are already carrying six QBs on your roster.  I know some of those guys will have to go.  But why pick up a rookie QB?  What not stockpile more linemen in the event of injury?


I watched Hard Knocks.  I know the Jets front office is not dumb.  All I can think is that Mike Tannenbaum got this for use as future trade bait.  Nothing else makes sense. 


I’ve heard it bandied about on the internet that this is good for the Jets because it will be good to have a young hungry QB sitting on the bench to keep Sanchez motivated.  That is beyond laughable; it is ludicrous.  Are you people watching the same Jets games I am? 


I’ve had an eye on Sanchez ever since he was at USC.  And the one thing I know is this:  you will pry the starters job from Mark’s cold dead hand, and even then, he will fight you.  He is on record as saying he hates it when Brad Smith comes in to run the wildcat.  Nothing personal against Smith, of course.  But Sanchez wants to be in the middle of the action at all times. He’s a gamer. He does not need anybody to motivate him.  He is as committed and determined to be a success in the NFL as it’s possible to be.  It is just plain silly to suggest otherwise. 


So, I just have to shoot down this “the Jets drafted McElroy as a reliable backup to Sanchez” argument.  Mark Sanchez is 24.  He is just entering his prime.  He’s already been to the AFC Championship Game twice.  Twice!!!!  Some quarterbacks never get there once.  And yes, I know it is a team effort.  But the signal-caller is important.


Drafting a young QB when you have one in place IS a smart strategy when your starter is over 30.  That’s what they’re doing over in New England.  Barring injury, Tom Brady is not going anywhere anytime soon.  But the Pats are smart.  Draft a young QB.  Let him learn at the feet of a Hall of Fame coach and quarterback.  Maybe one day, he inherits the mantle (which coincidentally is what happened to Dreamboat when Drew Bledsoe went down in 2001.)  Or groom him and keep him around as a valuable trade prospect (See: Cassel, Matt)  And that would all be fine for the Jets except for one thing.


Look at a calendar people.  This strategy does not make sense for the Jets.  Not this year.  Not with the extremely uncertain labor situation. Even though Mark is the QB of the foreseeable future, the Jets are built to win now.  Mark is going into year three—the playbook is wide open. 

So Jets fans—what do you want if (heaven forbid!) he goes down with injury in Week 4?   Greg McElroy in under center?  Remember—it’s very possible we will have no mini camp, no training camp, no preseason—just blow the whistle and go.  It’s hard enough to be a rookie at ANY position in the NFL, much less at QB.  (In retrospect, it was an unbelievable accomplishment for the whole organization when the Jets started Mark in ‘09 and ended up in the playoffs.)


Are you telling me that if Sanchez goes down the answer is a rookie?  Of course not.  If the unthinkable happens, you want Mark Brunell or Kellen Clemens under center.  Switch to 70/30 run/pass and just let one of those two guys hand it off to the running backs.  Throw in a couple of passes to keep the opposing defenses honest and rely on your defense to help you win ball games.  The dropoff in most teams from starter to back up QB is big.  But from starter to rookie backup who has had almost no reps, no coaching and no time with his teammates because of the labor situation this year is precipitous.  You cannot do it and expect to win. 


Brian Schottenheimer didn’t decline other head coaching offers to stay around and coach another rookie.  He stayed around because it’s Sanchez’ third year, and he sees the potential for the entire team.  The Jets are...this close.  


And let me preempt anybody, in the comments, who advances the argument which I’ve also seen floated on the internet that they drafted McElroy so that they could trade Sanchez.  WILL NOT HAPPEN.  From the day they selected Mark in the 2009 draft, Rex Ryan has told Mark, the media, the team and anybody else who would listen, that those two are a package deal.  They ride together.  Period. 


Greg McElroy?  My advice to you is to rent.  Even if they keep you, you are going to be third on the depth chart (probably behind Brunell).  Third string quarterbacks don’t have a lot of job security. 


I wish you all the success in the world.  Maybe the Jets will cut loose the other QBs they have on the roster and keep you.  But either Brunell or Clemens is staying, and it’ll probably be Brunell.  So, work hard, keep your nose clean and rewatch every single episode of Hard Knocks so you are prepared for the insanity that is about to come your way. 


Oh, and watch out for Bart Scott.  I hear he doesn’t take it easy on rookies.