The New York Jets came off their bye week, and unfortunately picked up right where they left off.
Another abysmal performance on offense, another awful game from Mark Sanchez, and another well-earned loss.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what was the most aggravating moment for Jets fans on Sunday. Sanchez’s ill-fated red zone interception? His careless fumble? Or Rex Ryan‘s defiant defense of Sanchez as his starting quarterback?
When asked by reporters postgame whether he’d consider making a change at quarterback, Ryan was steadfast.
“I believe we can win with Mark and … I’m not going to let you or anyone else convince me otherwise,” Ryan said. “This is how I feel. It gives us the best opportunity to win games, and that’s the only reason I make any move.”
While there have been rumblings about Tim Tebow, and why exactly Tebow hasn’t gotten on the field all that much, Ryan believes that Mark Sanchez is still his guy, and he’s not going to let anybody change his mind.
“That’s what I believe,” Ryan said sternly. “It’s what I believe to be the truth. Why do I believe it? Because I believe it. I don’t care … what anybody else [thinks]. I believe it. In my heart, I believe it. … I put my trust in him.”
Unfortunately for the Jets, Ryan’s stubbornness and unconditional trust in “his guys” is holding the Jets back, and he’s been too blind to see it. He’s won big games with some of these guys, and that’s good enough for him.
But it’s not good enough anymore. It’s not 2010 anymore. The Jets’ veteran players have aged faster than their young talent has developed. The result is a team stuck in between fantasy and reality, with no real identity to speak of.
I think Ryan is a good head coach. He’s been a defensive wiz for a long time, and he’s trying to be more than that.
But if he can’t be pragmatic enough to stop being loyal to players who don’t deserve his loyalty, he may find himself going down with the ship when he doesn’t have to, and that would be a damn shame.
Rex needs to wake up and admit to himself what everybody else can already see as plain as day. Sanchez is not going to lead the Jets to a Super Bowl. Right now, he’s playing like one of the worst five quarterbacks in the league.
Is the offense around Sanchez mediocre at best? Sure. But there can’t be any excuses anymore. Sanchez is not a rookie anymore. He’s in the middle of his fourth NFL season. He turned 26 years old on Sunday. Enough is enough.
Ryan has always been so supportive of Sanchez, which is admirable to a degree, but Sanchez has not done nearly enough on the field to validate that support. Ryan is tying himself to Sanchez, and Sanchez will sink them both.
It’s pretty evident that as long as Rex Ryan is in charge, Mark Sanchez will be his starting quarterback. Whether or not you or I think that’s a bad idea, Ryan doesn’t care. He’s fiercely loyal. It’s admirable, but it’s also his biggest flaw.
Ryan is well-respected around the league as a a “player’s coach.” But what happens when the players he goes to war with are no longer fit for battle? It’s not 2010 anymore, Rex. It’s time to cut your losses and move forward.
At 3-6, and all-but-mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, major changes are surely coming for the Jets in the offseason. But if Ryan doesn’t disassociate himself from Sanchez, he risks being on the wrong side of it.
It’s not an easy thing to admit you’re wrong about a guy. I was wrong about Sanchez. I’ll hold out hope, for his sake, that he might be able to improve his game with a change of scenery. But he’s no franchise quarterback. Not here.
Rex Ryan has to decide. Will he be the noble captain that goes down with the ship? Or the pragmatic football coach that wakes up and realizes that this is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately league? It’s not too late to grab a life raft.