Flight Delayed: Why The New York Jets Need To Start Greg McElroy Over Mark Sanchez
The New York Jets have found themselves in a rather familiar situation throughout the 2012 season. They are making headlines. The Rex Ryan era has been full of promises, successes, disappointments, and turmoil. The last three plus years in New York have been nothing short of a media frenzy, and it doesn’t seem to be stopping any time soon.
Last Sunday, Rex Ryan chose to sit Mark Sanchez for Greg McElroy. This brought about varying emotions within the Jets community. Many fans felt relief, while others felt anger. Once again, the fan base was divided. At this point in the season, many experts anticipated that the fans would be clamoring for Sanchez to be pulled. They got what they wished for, however, his replacement surprised most.
Greg McElroy was selected as the 208th pick in the 2011 draft. The Jets already had their quarterback of the future, but their backup QB, Mark Brunell, was not going to be around forever. It seemed as if McElroy was a smart late round flier for a team with an already established starter at QB. He played in arguably the toughest conference in college football and had led his team, Alabama, to the national championship two years prior.
But why Greg McElroy?
To begin, we cannot discredit what Mark Sanchez has done for the New York Jets. In his first two years in the NFL, he led them to two conference championship games. Sanchez did this primarily by not losing games. He performed when they needed him to, but more importantly, he didn’t give the games away.
The last season and a half developed somewhat differently, however. Mark Sanchez has looked lost for much of 2011 and 2012. The problem is that he is regressing, not just physically, but mentally. His decision-making has declined since 2010, which was arguably his best season. Although Sanchez threw more touchdowns in 2011, other important skills were lacking.
In 2010, Sanchez’s interception percentage, or the percentage of times intercepted when attempting a pass, was 2.6%. In 2011, that rose to 3.3%, and in the current season it has again risen to 3.5%.
His sack percentage also rose between 2010 and 2012, from 5.1% to 7.3%.
This illustrates that Sanchez has been either taking sacks or carelessly getting rid of the ball over the last season and a half. Bad decisions lead to bad football.
Onto everyone’s favorite player: the backup quarterback. I will not say that Greg McElroy is the second coming of Aaron Rodgers, but I will say that he is a smart individual. He scored an outstanding 48 out of 50 on the Wonderlic Test. That is twice the league average for incoming QB’s! Some of the greatest quarterbacks in the league haven’t come close to that number.
Additionally, McElroy proved at Alabama that he is a great game manager. With a run-first, defensive-minded team like the New York Jets, all they need is a QB that can intelligently manage the game like Sanchez did in 2009 and 2010. It has already proven to be a winning formula for the team in the past, and I think McElroy can do it more efficiently.
Another reason McElroy needs a shot is so that the Jets can evaluate their future. Tim Tebow is not the Jets’ future, and I worry that with all the commotion at the quarterback position, Sanchez will not be around much longer. The Jets need to figure out if they will trudge on next season with Sanchez and McElroy, or if they will snag a QB in the draft or Free Agency. The only way to prepare for the future is to play McElroy. Sanchez has already proven himself unworthy of the starting job this season.
Rex Ryan has named Mark Sanchez the starter for this Sunday, however, if he fails, I expect to see McElroy step in. If that occurs, I think that Sanchez will be mentally lost for as long as he stays with the Jets. For me, this boils down to “why not?” What do the New York Jets have to lose? With his intelligence, Greg McElroy could be the greatest game manager of all time.