Flea Clicker: Oh, Rex


The 2012 New York Jets set the standard for quarterback mismanagement. In fairness to Rex Ryan, he was put in the difficult situation of having to choose between Mark Sanchez, an average quarterback who’s declining to being a replacement-level quarterback, and Tim Tebow, who isn’t a quarterback at all but he does a few specific things well. And in fairness to now former general manager Mike Tannenbaum, he brought Tebow aboard with the assumption that Ryan and former offensive coordinator Tony Sparano would find a way to get him on the field to do those few specific things, and contribute.

That didn’t happen, and the smouldering mess which remained led to the loss of three jobs (Tebow, Sparano, and Tannenbaum), and significant questions about Ryan’s ability to manage and evaluate the most important offensive position. After this past weekend, I’m not sure Ryan can manage anything in his life, and he may also have an acting hobby in which he practices interviewing…himself.

Filed under awesomeness you may missed over the weekend if you were busy living some sort of “life”, that’s Ryan grasping at an incoherent defense of his decision to insert Sanchez into the Jets’ Saturday win over the New York Giants. It came after Geno Smith had been horrendous, throwing three interceptions, and pulling a Dan Orlovsky in the back of the end zone to highlight a night when his head was filled with only bones.

By default then, Sanchez had almost surely wrapped up the starting job, at least temporarily to begin the season. And yet there he was, trotted into garbage time in an utterly meaningless preseason game just before the 11-minute mark of the fourth quarter. The move came directly after Smith forgot the dimensions of an NFL end zone and ran out the back, a safety that certainly earned his yanking.

But then instead of plugging in Matt Simms to stick a dagger in the final quarter of a game in which the scoreboard didn’t matter even a little bit, Sanchez was under center. And instead of then putting his presumed starter in with the rest of the first team, Sanchez was playing behind a backup offensive line. The result was painfully predictable: brutally poor protection, forced scrambles, and a few thorough whackings, the last of which led to a bruised shoulder. Sanchez is now likely “week-to-week”, putting his status for Week 1 in question.

Now, a raw rookie who needs to be groomed and developed slowly could be forced to start, and Smith therefore risks being Blaine Gabbert’ed. And for what? Because Ryan wanted to win a preseason game? Because he wanted to see how Sanchez would play late in a close game against a second-team defense, a situation Ryan has seen him in many times? Because he wanted to be sure that Sanchez could clear the exceedingly low bar set by Smith?

Manish Mehta of the New York Post observed that even Sanchez appeared surprised:

There was no logical reason to put Sanchez in the game.

It was even more maddening since Sanchez had essentially wrapped up the quarterback competition after Geno Smith’s three-interception implosion in the first half against the Giants.

It was apparent to everyone in North America that Smith simply isn’t ready to be the Week 1 starter. Sanchez was in line to start against the Buccaneers on Sept. 8.

Sanchez even appeared surprised when he was called into the game with 11 minutes left in the fourth quarter. He scrambled to find his helmet and went in. Rather than put in Matt Simms, Ryan turned to his presumptive Week 1 starter. Make sense? Of course not.

I get it. Football players can suffer football injuries at any time, a scientific fact that’s been proven repeatedly this offseason, with muscles ripping on practice fields in May. But knowing that, and knowing the delicacy of a situation at a certain position, it’s a coach’s job to manage and minimize that risk whenever possible. Ryan failed, horribly.

More notes, stray thoughts, and other such randomness

Annnnd elsewhere in quarterback calamity over the weekend

Hmmm, it feels like I’ve seen this exact same crappy Matt Flynn flick before. Like, say, last year, when he was promptly beat out by Russell Wilson in camp after being the presumed starter following the Seahawks’ trade to land what was — again, at the time — their solution at quarterback.

Flynn attempted six passes Saturday during Oakland’s loss to the Bears. Six, and that’s all he needed to throw two interceptions. Efficiency points for you, friend.

He was then promptly yanked early in the second quarter, which was already an early sign that all is not well. Typically, starting quarterbacks play the first half at minimum in Week 3 of the preseason, yet there was Terrelle Pryor at the 6:52 mark of the second quarter. And what did he do? Welp…

To review, that’s a lot of leg pumping for a lot of yards and a lot of creativity, things Flynn isn’t remotely capable of executing.

The highlight was clearly Pryor’s 25-yard touchdown run, but equally impressive was his ability to sustain plays with his legs, and his 19-yard jump throw to Rod Streater.

Yeah yeah, Pryor was primarily playing against second teamers in the third quarter. But the Bears’ second-team defense is still likely better than anything he faces in practice, and we can say the same about the Seahawks in Oakland’s preseason finale. Pryor has deservedly received first-team practice reps since Saturday, and it appears as though he’s now the front runner for the top job.

If a Raiders team that’s set to go Downey for Clowney (that should stick, right?) has any hope whatsoever of being respectable and not a hopeless train wreak in 2013, it lies with Pryor and his creativity. And now I’ll write something that seemed unthinkable a week ago: with the right cozy matchup (see also: awesomely weak matchup), Pryor is a viable fantasy flex option, especially with the gravy points he’ll add on the ground.

Annnnnd elsewhere in quarterback hurt

We’ve all told a few bad Kevin Kolb jokes, mostly because we’re awful people. Usually after my poor attempts, I then remind you all that he played behind a brutal offensive line in Arizona last year that finally broke him (it just got a little more brutal too after Jonathan Cooper’s likely season-ending injury…stay safe, Carson Palmer).

But really, what does this kid have to do to appease the almighty football gods?

Kolb took an unlucky and painful knee to the head Saturday during the Bills’ loss to Washington, and now there’s legitimate concern that due to multiple concussions, his career could be in jeopardy.

It’s a rough scene for a guy who’s never really been given a sustained shot at being a starting quarterback. At worst he was the ideal backup for E.J. Manuel, a promising yet still raw rookie who’s recovering from an injury of his own and should be ready for opening day.

Now that gig hilariously falls to Jeff Tuel, and Doug Marrone said he’ll start Week 1 if Manuel can’t go. And if/when that becomes reality, Tuel will be the first undrafted rookie quarterback since the AFL-NFL merger in 1960 to start in his first game. Matt Leinart was signed for depth over the weekend along with Thaddeus Lewis, both of whom are also lacking in confidence and talent.

Manuel inherently comes with more injury risk due to his scrambling habits, and if he breaks for good next time, it’ll be another long and cold winter in Buffalo.

David Wilson is fast

Friday there was much murmuring and hand slapping when David Wilson was officially named the Giants’ starting running back. It was a glorious day, although I’m not sure that being the “starter” changes anything, especially not for fantasy purposes. Wilson is still a poor pass blocker, and will therefore often by pulled on passing downs in favor of Andre Brown. He’ll also bleed goal-line and short-yardage work to Brown, who brings more boom from the backfield.

So we’ll see a workload share that’s very much in favor of Wilson and he’ll then be a fine early-round RB2 pick for your fake team, but the share will still persist. This was a lot of fun though…

Less will be more for Arian Foster

You’re petrified of Arian foster, and I get that. But he’s still easily worth a first-round fantasy pick, and if he falls into the back half of the opening round, you should gladly take the discount. There’s risk due to his recent workload, and 722 touches over the past two years. But eventually you can’t entirely avoid risk, and Foster is a fine place to attempt your snake eyes roll.

The above quote from Kubiak is also pleasant. A little less for Foster could lead to a lot more with fresh legs, and Ben Tate’s four-game absence last year certainly didn’t help, as it destroyed any effort to manage his workload.