NFL Football Column: Football Daily Dose
End Of The Road, Mark?
Actions have consequences.
If you commit a crime, you go to jail. If you finish the milk, you buy the next gallon. If you enter Week 15 with 19 turnovers, you get pulled at the first hint of trouble.
Alas, the New York Jets established long ago that they operate within an accountability-free zone. Mistakes aren’t punished, they’re rewarded with another drive — or in some instances, contract extensions.
No, Mark Sanchez hasn’t had a lot of help this season. His top two downfield threats Monday were a 260-pound tight end and a soon-to-be 30-year-old wideout who was signed off the street after his previous employer determined he was out of gas.
But that simply doesn’t excuse his play — four amateurish interceptions and a worthy sequel to the “Butt Fumble” — against the Titans, and it certainly doesn’t excuse the Jets’ almost childlike naivete when it comes to their would-be “Sanchize.”
Forget what Sanchez did in Weeks 13 and 14, which was commit four turnovers, throw for zero touchdowns and just 208 yards. He hasn’t done a single thing in his entire career to suggest he was the man for the job once the going got tough — aka, he started making his usual mistakes — in last night’s must-win game.
But there he was, returning after turnover No. 1. Then No. 2. Then No. 3. Finally, after turnover No. 4 he put the Jets out of their misery and out of the playoffs, letting Nick Mangold’s bad snap slip through his grip.
There were only two souls on earth who didn’t see Sanchez’s (latest) signature turnover coming: Coach Rex Ryan and GM Mike Tannenbaum. Ryan’s decision not to bench his quarterback was all the more baffling since he had already done so in Week 13. He went to the well and it worked. So why in the world did he not go back again?
Only Ryan knows, and only Tannenbaum knows Sanchez’s long-term fate. In any other organization, it would be simple: Sanchez and his league-leading 50 turnovers since Week 1 2011 would be gone. But on top of Tannenbaum’s now-legendary delusion, there’s the matter of the $8.25 million he guaranteed Sanchez for 2013 in last March’s apology extension for pursuing Peyton Manning. If Tannenbaum decides to make the obvious and necessary call, it will require taking an $8.25 million bath.
In the short term, Ryan said Monday he’s “not ready to say who will be our quarterback next game.” Maybe it will be Tim Tebow, maybe it will be Greg McElroy. But if history is any indication, it will be the least deserving candidate: Mark Sanchez will be matching wits with Philip Rivers against San Diego.
Jake Locker owes Mark Sanchez a steak dinner. On any other night, it would have been Locker’s dismal performance earning all the headlines. Already stuck in a Sanchez-ian rut entering Week 15, Locker needed to show something — anything — in his first prime-time showcase.
Instead, he threw for just 149 yards, showed little patience and even worse pocket presence. The No. 8 pick of the 2011 draft limited the damage by not turning the ball over, but aside from a designed run for a 13-yard touchdown in the third quarter, he offered nothing in the big-play department, and made life difficult for his receivers.
As observed by an esteemed former colleague on Twitter, Locker possesses nice wheels for a quarterback, but rarely extends plays in a positive fashion. That’s a problem since he presumably wasn’t drafted to be a shining beacon of pocket-quarterback play.
Locker simply hasn’t demonstrated a strong — or even basic — feel for the NFL game, and has as many, if not more, things to work on than Sanchez. Unlike Sanchez, Locker should get another chance to iron out the kinks in 2013. But his progress will have to be real, and it will have to come early. Otherwise, it will be on to the next one for impatient owner Bud Adams.
Stand Up, Ricky
Aside from the fact that he loves America, we don’t know a whole lot about Chiefs’ third-string quarterback Ricky Stanzi. We can infer something, however.
The fact that he’s yet to appear in a game this season despite the weekly travails of Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn suggests the Chiefs don’t have any faith in his ability to competently command an NFL offense, either now or in the future. His preseason numbers — 9-of-18 for 91 yards, zero touchdowns and two turnovers in 2012, 18-of-34 for 213 yards, one touchdown and one turnover in 2011 — support that.
Nevertheless, the Chiefs might finally be ready to give Stanzi the old college try after Quinn produced exactly zero points against one of the league’s worst teams in Sunday’s loss, and injured his ribs in the process.
What to expect? The worst quarterback play yet for a team that’s seen an unimaginable amount of it over the past two seasons.
Quarterback/Pass Catcher Quick Slants: Packers coach Mike McCarthy declined comment on Jordy Nelson’s (hamstring) status in his presser. Nelson is looking like a long-shot for Week 16. … Rob Gronkowski (forearm) was spotted without a cast at Patriots Park. We still don’t like his chances of suiting up before Week 17. … According to their coaches, neither Matthew Stafford nor Brandon Weeden were candidates to be benched in Week 15. … According to coach Mike Shanahan, Robert Griffin III (knee) will only suit up for Week 16 if he’s 100 percent. … Dez Bryant insists his finger is “fine.”
Running Back Quick Slants: Ahmad Bradshaw (knee) expects to return this week, but coach Tom Coughlin isn’t so sure. Bradshaw’s status will be hard to gauge before the weekend since he’s unlikely to get in any practice reps. … LeSean McCoy (concussion) has a “chance” to play against the Redskins. The lukewarm endorsement suggests he’ll sit out another week, and likely the season. … Maurice Jones-Drew (foot) hasn’t been ruled out for Sunday, but is still “questionable.” Even if he does take the field against the Patriots, his workload will be extremely limited. … There’s a mechanism in Chris Johnson’s contract that could have the Titans considering making him a free agent after the Super Bowl.
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