Much has been made in the preseason about Jets’ head coach Rex Ryan’s decision to insert incumbent quarterback Mark Sanchez into the 4th quarter of an August overtime win over the crosstown rival, New York Giants. Questions have even surfaced about what the head coach’s motives were and even whispers about if Coach Ryan intended for Sanchez to get hurt so to avoid a quarterback controversy. These are all preliminary assumptions and I’m sure that at some point these details will be leaked to we, the public. That’s usually only once someone has been cut or fired. Yet, I would like to give you an entertaining anecdote about what I believe to be one of the sleaziest, most underhanded moves in the history of professional sports.
For those who don’t know much about the Jets, Rex Ryan was hired by the Jets in 2009 to resurrect a team that withered away after Wayne Chrebet and Curtis Martin retired. One of Ryan’s first moves as head coach was drafting QB Mark Sanchez out of USC to lead his offense. Sanchez’s offense would be paired with an unforgiving defense. Sanchez never materialized into the Pro Bowl QB that Ryan envisioned. He would show glimpses of fame while managing an offense that only needed to score 21points to win. The defense for the first two years appeared unstoppable, causing injuries across the board, including breaking the jaw of receiver Anquan Boldin. This was all accomplished on their way to two back to back losses in the AFC Championship. But these losses were due in large part to the inexperience and underdevelopment of Mark Sanchez. Sanchez was turnover prone and floundering, so Coach Ryan brought in Tim Tebow to motivate Sanchez. Obviously, that failed or we wouldn’t be talking about this now.
Approaching this season, excessive speculation has surrounded the Jets QB situation and who would run away with the starting job. Geno Smith has tons of upside but lacks the experience to deal with the wide variety of blitz packages and disguised coverage that he will see in this upcoming season. Mark Sanchez lacks the ability to properly read and outmaneuver coverage. In short, the Jets are screwed at the quarterback position. To make things worse, they have a head coach who is conflicted. The fans and upper management want to see what Geno Smith can provide at the QB position. Given the recent success of rookie QBs (Russell Wilson, Robert Griffin III, and Andrew Luck), in his heart Rex Ryan knows that this will most likely be his last season as head coach of the Jets and he doesn’t want to abandon the guy he took his first chance on. To exclude himself from the blame game, Ryan cleverly inserted Sanchez, hoping that Sanchez would do exactly what he did. Sanchez managed to get hurt by some guys who may not even have a job by the first game of the season. This way, the mob that is New York fans, could have their wishes to see Geno Smith as the Jets’ starter. All the while Ryan didn’t have to break his guy Mark Sanchez’s spirit by benching him. Now if the Geno Smith experiment fails, Ryan will not face the blame and if it works then he can take all the credit. In the process, he gambled with the one guy who has laid it all on the line for Ryan and the Jets, Mark Sanchez.
Sanchez has been beaten, battered, and embarrassed, and used. Now its Geno’s turn and if the 3rd preseason game was any indication, us Jets fans may have a VERY long season ahead.
Rex Ryan will either be a genius or a goofball at the end of the season. The decisions that he has made up to this point have put him in a terrible position and it doesn’t look promising for them to make much noise in the AFC East. At best they may finish 3rd in the division and miss the playoffs again behind a lackluster offensive effort. But in my heart I have to believe that Ryan is that genius who will find a way to make it work, and get better production out of his substandard receiving corps. The Jets need to put forth a stellar defensive effort this year. That’s the only way Rex Ryan can take my Jets back to the national spotlight. J-E-T-S-, Jets, Jets, Jets!