If Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum were to write a book, a good working title would be “How Not to Build Up a Quarterback.” Since the end of last season, the Jets have run hot and cold with starting QB Mark Sanchez and seem to be changing their strategy as to how they want to build their team on an almost weekly basis.A quick review of the Jets actions this off-season shows how confusing the team’s commitment to Sanchez seems. Let’s review:
1) After finishing a disappointing 8-8 and out of the playoffs, the Jets dismiss Offensive Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. They hire former Miami Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano as his replacement. Sparano
favors a more run oriented “ground and pound” offense which was the formula the Jets used during the 2009 and 2010 seasons when they reached the AFC Championship Game in back-to-back years.
2) The Jets pursue free agent QB Peyton Manning. Manning would run anything put a “ground and pound” offense and would not be a good fit for Sparano’s system. Manning spurns the Jets and eventually signs with the Denver Broncos.
3) Shortly after Manning said no, the Jets signed Sanchez to a contract extension. Coach Rex Ryan says the new deal shows how committed the Jets organization was to Sanchez as their quarterback going forward.
4) The Jets sign former Lions backup QB Drew Stanton to be Sanchez’s backup.
5) After the Broncos sign Manning, they announce they are looking to trade Tim Tebow. Naturally, the Jets go out and trade a pair of draft picks to acquire Tebow, one of the league’s most popular players.
What the Jets have done by trading for Tebow is guaranteed themselves a quarterback controversy. Jets fans, Tim Tebow fans and the ever present New York media will be all over Sanchez. Any time he has a bad game, or perhaps even a bad series, the cry will go out for Tebow. Certainly, Sanchez, will have to be looking over his shoulder. Tebow will cast a long shadow and the threat of him taking Sanchez’s job will always be there.
Also, Sanchez and Tebow run very different types of offenses. Sanchez is a pocket passer with limited mobility. Tebow is a stronger runner than passer and probably is strongest running an option style offense. If Sanchez were to get hurt or replaced by Tebow, the Jets offense would require a major overhaul to be effective. Simply put, the players you put in place to build an offense around Sanchez are not the same type of players who you would choose to build an offense around Tebow.
Last year, Sanchez already had enough problems gaining the confidence of many of his teammates including wide receiver Santonio Holmes. Introducing Tebow into an already volatile mix will only serve to further undermine Sanchez’s authority in the huddle and the locker room.
So good luck, Mark Sanchez. Please know that Jets management is standing behind you. The only thing that isn’t clear is whether or not they are supporting you or trying to push you out the door.