Jets mistake: Rex Ryan must go all in with Greg McElroy
Rex Ryan’s benching of Mark Sanchez in favor of third string quarterback Greg McElroy was a long time coming. But for 13 weeks, it seemed as though Rex’s continued support of Sanchez would never falter. This support, whether it developed out of loyalty or pride, had been quite costly to the New York Jets’ season. After three interceptions and three and a half quarters of complete incompetence, Rex was finally not willing to wait for the last shoe to drop and he quelled that supportive. His decision saved the Jets from losing to an inferior team and put him miles closer to still being the head coach next season.
Although starting McElroy seems like the next logical decision, it is not the decision made by Rex Ryan.
For one thing, let’s not forget that McElroy is the third string quarterback. Typically, the backup quarterback is put in when the starter goes out—for whatever reason. In this case, it would be Tim Tebow obviously. Tebow makes Rex’s decision even more difficult due to the sensationalized persona he has, compounded with the fact that the next opponent the Jets face is in Tebow’s hometown. This disastrous season has brought to light the fact that Woody Johnson—a man who has no business owning a sports franchise—is calling certain shots behind the scenes.
Also, team politics may play a bigger part in this decision than anyone cares to admit. Mark Sanchez received an expensive contract extension despite a less than stellar third season. Benching your expensive starting quarterback so soon after this negotiations is essentially admitting that it was an all-around colossal failure—which it absolutely was. Just like anyone, general manager Mike Tannenbaum wants to keep his job. It makes sense that sources close to the Jets claim that Tannenbaum wants Sanchez to continue to start. Benching Sanchez would all but put that final nail in his coffin. Woody Johnson may not know football, but he knows business. He understands the concepts of overpaying and a negative return on an investment, which is exactly what has happened here with Sanchez.
Rex Ryan needs to push those hurdles aside and start McElroy. It is what is best for the team.
Something amazing happened when McElroy ran on the field. The atmosphere of that stadium changed drastically. The fans were alive, happy and cheering. It was pretty unprecedented for this season. More importantly, the team changed. They became energized and played with the passion and hope that had been largely absent from that game. Having positive energy is a very important element for a team like the Jets. Throughout that game, the defense had been doing its job. The Cardinals were 0/15 on third down conversions and had only racked up three points up until then. That is especially impressive considering Sanchez’s three interceptions. Even though no defensive player would admit it, their frustration levels must have been very high. It may be smart to keep the players that are actually doing their jobs happy.
Furthermore, we must examine the impact on the rest of the team should Rex decide to start Sanchez. Greg McElroy was far more effective than Sanchez was. That part is obvious. If Rex throws all logic away and starts Sanchez over McElroy, where does that leave him in the eyes of the team? How is the team supposed to go forward and have faith in the head coach? During interviews, players may publically say the politically correct thing, i.e., that they trust their coach. Privately, however, there is no way that can possibly be true. Starting Sanchez may put in motion some unintended consequences in that respect. When people are working for something that they do not believe in, bad things do happen.
As of now, sources claim that Rex is still torn on this decision, although he is leaning towards starting McElroy. Rex needs to make this decision, and he needs to make it fast. The time to practice is very limited and McElroy is inexperienced in the NFL. McElroy needs to get all the reps in practice that Sanchez has been getting so that he is ready for the next game. If Rex is indecisive and chooses to split the reps in practice, that will hurt both McElroy and Sanchez. No one will be ready.
Rex has only two options: give McElroy the majority of the reps in practice or continue the status quo, which is proven to be ineffective.
Therefore, Rex must go “All In” on McElroy. Immediately.
Angie Kozak is the New York Jets writer for The Penalty Flag. Angie has had NY Jets season ticket for 13 straight seasons and counting. She graduated from Penn State University in 2010 with a degree in Communications. Although a lifelong diehard Jet fan, Angie can be outspokenly critical of her beloved Jets. Contact her on Twitter @Angie_Kozak.