“We don’t need to bring in another guy to make Mark Sanchez great. Mark Sanchez wants to be great because that’s who he is. With that said, we’re looking at that position very carefully and I wouldn’t be surprised if at the end of the day, by September, that position group as a whole looks a little bit different than it did at the end of the 2011 season.” — Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum on ESPN 1050 Radio in New York.
Tannenbaum followed that up by stating, predictably, that he expects Sanchez to be the team’s quarterback in 2012. Still, the minor damage was done when he admitted he expected changes at the quarterback position. Unless he was referring to backup Mark Brunell or third-stringer Kevin O’Connell (Tannenbaum has already stated that Greg McElroy will be back), those words were likely designed to send a message.
Tannenbaum drafted Sanchez one year after the Brett Favre experiment backfired in 2008. While no one would blame him for giving up on Sanchez after three fairly unimpressive seasons, you have to wonder if the Favre experience will cause him to get cold feet in a potential pursuit of Peyton Manning.
Asked if the team would “kick the tires” on Manning, Tannenbaum told Michael Kay that “it’s really important that we always try to improve the team.”
What’s strange is that Tannenbaum implied up top that the Jets didn’t have to take measures to apply pressure on Sanchez, and yet there’d be no other reason for him to leave the door open with comments like these. Just deny, deny, deny. Unless you’re trying to light a fire under your inconsistent, 25-year-old “franchise” quarterback.
Sanchez’s numbers technically improved in his third season, but he’s still not taking large enough steps toward stardom. His passer rating improved by about three points, but it was still below 80. He threw nine more touchdown passes than he did the previous season, but he also tossed five more picks. His completion percentage (56.4) is still far too low as he struggled with accuracy, and his yards-per-attempt average actually dropped off from his first two seasons.
Regardless of what Tannenbaum and the numbers say, I can’t see the Jets’ quarterback depth chart changing much between now and the start of next season. Sanchez will be paid over $11 million next year, and the team, which has very limited cap space, can’t afford to risk another double-digit salary on Manning. Plus, they simply don’t have the ammunition to trade into the No. 2 draft slot to take a new potential franchise signal caller such as Robert Griffin III.
It is completely possible that New York was that mystery team Peter King reported sent a “feeler” to the Rams over the weekend, but it’s very unlikely anything transpires there unless the Browns and Redskins bow out of the race.
That means that, in all likelihood, Tannenbaum’s changes at that position group come later in the draft, where Ryan Tannehill, Kirk Cousins, Brock Osweiler, Brandon Weeden and Russell Wilson will be candidates to compete with Sanchez.