New York Jets

How Much of a Leash Does Mark Sanchez Deserve vs. Jaguars?

Dec. 2, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez (6) on the sidelines against the Arizona Cardinals during the second half at MetLife Stadium. Jets won 7-6. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports
Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports
Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistDecember 7, 2012

New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan has named embattled quarterback Mark Sanchez the starter heading into the team's Week 14 matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars, but Sanchez's leash has to be short at best. 

The decision comes less than a week after Ryan elected to yank Sanchez from a game against the Arizona Cardinals after he managed to throw three interceptions in one half. 

Sanchez was replaced by a former seventh-round pick in Greg McElroy, who immediately proceeded to complete 5-of-7 pass attempts and throw for a touchdown in a winning effort. 

Despite the horrid performance from Sanchez and the promising one from McElroy, Ryan has decided to once again hinge his head coaching future in New York on a player who has failed to be productive in a positive manner throughout his four-year career. 

In fact, Sanchez has consistently been one of the NFL's worst in 2012. He's appeared in 12 games and only thrown for 2,436 yards, 12 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, which gives him a mediocre 71.4 quarterback rating. 

The worst part? Sanchez is completing just over half of his passes with a horrendous 55 percent. 

Ryan has consistently said throughout the season that Sanchez gives the Jets the best chance to win each week, but that is most certainly what didn't happen against the Cardinals. The exact opposite happened—Sanchez's benching likely resulted in the win. 

There may be other factors at play in Ryan's decision to start Sanchez again. As ESPN's Rich Cimini points out, the decision to go with Sanchez despite horrible play may be a financial one:

Ryan insisted that Sanchez's contract -- an $8.25 million guarantee in 2013 -- had "absolutely zero" impact on his decision. The coach admitted there was a "difference of opinion" within the organization, but he said owner Woody Johnson was on board. There was speculation that Johnson preferred McElroy.

That "difference of opinion" within the organization may have overridden Ryan's wants to keep Sanchez riding the pine, which makes sense for the future of the organization. 

Against the Jaguars, Sanchez will likely be on the hot seat once again. If he performs anywhere close to the way he did against the Cardinals, don't be shocked to see McElroy once again receiving some playing time. 

Jacksonville's defensive unit is abysmal. It allows 29 points per game, ranking it 30th. It gives up 261 passing yards per contest (No. 28) and 405 yards overall per game (No. 31). 

If Sanchez cannot perform well against a defense as horrendous as that, hostile environment or not, it's a safe bet he won't be playing in New York next season. At least, not with the ridiculous amount of money the Jets organization is slated to owe him. 

Sanchez has to show something, anything against Jacksonville to keep his hopes alive of remaining a starting NFL quarterback. His leash is going to be ridiculously short against the Jaguars.

 

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