FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – A day after what was arguably the worst performance since his rookie year, the Jets benched quarterback Mark Sanchez in favor of a quarterback who has thrown just seven passes in his professional career.
Monday night’s 14-10 loss at the Titans might be the low water mark for a season of lows from Sanchez. In all, Sanchez was 13-for-28 for 131 yards with one touchdown and four interceptions, the first time since 2009 that he’s been picked off four times. His passer rating of 32.6 was the second lowest in a season where he failed to complete 50 percent of his passes in seven out of 14 games.
On Tuesday in a conference call with the New York media, Jets head coach Rex Ryan was asked what he found (if anything) to like from Sanchez’s Monday night performance. Ryan gave a glancing kudo to Sanchez then went in an entirely different direction. The dodging answer is a sign that Ryan’s propping up of his fourth year quarterback is no longer tenable.
“Obviously, he did make a couple of nice plays. We were able to move the football as a football team. I like the way we ran the ball (and are) playing defense. The thing I’m really proud about with this defense is that I think in the last 11 turnovers we’ve had offensively, I don’t believe anybody has scored a single point off of those turnovers. That will tell you about the kind of pride and how resilient our defense has been playing,” Ryan said. “I think they’ve been doing an outstanding job and a lot of that credit goes to [defensive coordinator] Mike Pettine and his coaching staff as well as the players. I’m happy with that.”
“Obviously, with the turnovers, regardless of how we were moving the football, those turnovers killed us. (They) obviously kept us out of scoring position several times.”
Therein lies the rub for Sanchez that when Ryan, his staunchest public advocate, can only say “he did make a couple of nice plays”that something is amiss.
Both head coach and the team’s former starting quarterback are forever linked. It was in 2009 when Ryan in his first draft with the Jets packaged picks and players to move up in the first round and draft Sanchez No. 5 overall. And it was Sanchez who ran the play action and handed the ball off in the Jets “Ground & Pound” offense that was a game shy of the Super Bowl in both 2009 and 2010.
But now, Ryan had to name a starter for this Sunday’s game and the name he went with wasn’t Sanchez.
“Well, I think anytime you do that it’s not easy,” Ryan said.“That’s for sure. In dealing with it, I told Mark that I think we need to make a change and he respected my decision, but that’s not easy, that’s for sure.”