by Kennedy Ross
Cold, Hard Football Facts AFC East Overlord (@FNscribeNY)
It was starting to seem that Mark Sanchez could wipe his butt in the middle of the field with his Jets jersey and Rex Ryan would not bench him. But the impossible became possible today as Sanchez was benched and replaced by third string Greg McElroy. Tim Tebow was "conveniently" inactive. They got the win and also got a massive quarterback controversy on their hands.
Tom Brady wasn't "Tom Terrific" but all he needed to be was "Tom Pretty Damn Good" to beat the competitive Dolphins in a tough one in Miami. In Buffalo, everything came together finally as the Bills put a beating on the Jaguars up in Buffalo.
Here are five things we learned on this interesting day:
1. Every man has his price. (Jets 7 - Cardinals 6)
The New York Jets, their fans and their players have watched their quarterback Mark Sanchez descend into the bowels of quarterback hell all year. Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan has stated all year long that "Sanchez was his guy". He gave the Jets "the best chance to win". He was "not making a change".
Apparently, 10-21 for 97 yards and three interceptions (could have been four) in the first half was all Ryan could take. Sanchez's very first pass of the game was an interception he threw under duress. Just like he has done his whole career.
While Sanchez was horrible, his counter part Cardinals quarterback Ryan Lindley, was truly wretched. Unlike Ryan, Arizona Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt (still) has a cast iron stomach. He was able to watch the horror show put on by his rookie quarterback, without pulling him.
Lindley completed 10 of 31 passes for an appalling 72 yards. The only kind thing that can be said was that he only threw one interception. However, he and the Cardinals were a mind boggling 0-15 on third down conversions. The Jets just kept putting pressure on him every third down, and he was never able to figure it out.
Once Greg McElroy took over for the Jets, he seem to establish his own "Tebow effect". While the Jets were moving the ball moderately while under Sanchez; they picked up the pace once McElroy entered the game.
The Jets racked up 177 yards on the ground with Shonn Greene having one of his best games of the year with 104 yards of his own. The bulk of what was left was accrued by back up Bilal Powell with 58 yards.
The truth is McElroy wasn't spectacular by any means, but he was effective. McElroy completed only five of his seven passes for 29 yards. But, he was able to throw a touchdown, which was all the Jets needed to beat the hapless Cardinals.
More importantly, it was a touchdown Sanchez could not deliver in over one half of game play. Now what happens? According to the numbers, you better go pick up your No.14 jerseys while they are still on the clearance racks.
2. At least they made them work for it. (Patriots 23 - Dolphins 16)
Four straight AFC East titles. That is what the New England Patriots achieved with their win over the Dolphins today. It wasn't a Patriots classic, but it will certainly do.
Tom Brady was a bit off today. He some of his passes were overthrown. He was sacked four times. But it didn't matter in the end. The Dolphins played catch up all game and could never over come.
The Dolphins tried to limit one the Patriots weapons, their running game, with their sixth ranked run defense on our Defensive Hog Index. They held New England to 108 yards on the ground, but couldn't make key stops when they needed to.
Brady kept the attack balanced with 238 yards through the air. He only threw one touchdown and an interception. A sub-Brady day, but still not bad.
Dolphins rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill didn't really affect the game either way. He completed 13 of his 29 passes for 186 yards. He threw neither a touchdown nor an interception.
His run support was similar to Brady's as the ground game accounted for 101 yards of offense. The only rushing touchdown was ironically scored by Tannehill. Reggie Bush looked to have a good day, but it only amounted to an O.K. day. Bush rushed for 64 yards and no touchdowns.
Tight end Aaron Hernandez took over nicely for Brady favorite Rob Gronkowski with 97 yards receiving. Usual suspect Wes Welker lead the team in catches and yards with 12 catches for 103 yards. He also caught a touchdown.
Patriot win. Division title. Business as usual.
3. Flashes of life. (Bills 34 - Jaguars 18)
Sometimes good things come in small, and even unsightly packages. That would be quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick's contribution to the Buffalo win. Fitzpatrick completed only nine of his 17 pass attempts. He passed for only 112 yards. He did however throw two touchdowns passes and ran for another one.
On a simple results based observation, Fitzpatrick had a monster day. He certainly was a large part of his teams success. But to observe why he was able to achieve so much with so little, you have to look elsewhere.
That other place would be the drooping Buffalo run game. The Bills exploded all over the Jaguars on the ground today.
Leading the pack is running back Fred Jackson. Jackson had a big game with 109 yards rushing by himself. Coming up behind him is C.J. Spiller. Spiller contributed 77 yards of his own, including a 44 yard touchdown run.
Those two, combined with "Mr. Everything" Brad Smith's 28 yards and Fitzpatrick's 18 yards, totalled 232 yards on the ground.
Normally, ground domination is a specialty of the Jaguars, but without running back Maurice Jones-Drew, that was a pipe dream today. Jacksonville totalled just 50 yards on the ground. Nothing at all to help out Jags quarterback and former Dolphin Chad Henne.
Henne tried to keep the Jaguars in the game with 208 yards and a touchdown. But even though he only threw one interception, it was huge in a game like this.
With this win, the Bills put themselves along with the Jets and Dolphins at 5-7. All of them are still alive for a playoff spot, but none of them are likely to get one.
4. We told you so!
It's been a sham from the very beginning. Now the facts are mounting that the Jets (Woody Johnson or Rex Ryan/Mike Tannenbaum) brought quarterback Tim Tebow to the Jets for pomp and circumstance, not football. CHFF said in this article back on October 28th, that the Jets had no intention of going to Tebow if anything happened to Sanchez. They would go to McElroy.
Well it wasn't an injury, but something did happen to Sanchez today. He was benched. As the second string quarterback, Tebow would be the next guy under center.
However, Tebow wasn't available because he was inactive, as per the head coach. So, they send in McElroy after a disgusting half by Sanchez, and he guides the Jets to a victory.
Here is where Ryan pulled his foot out of his mouth and stuck it right into a bear trap.
- Ryan has spent the whole season, no matter how bad Sanchez played, telling everyone with a microphone that Sanchez gave the Jets the best chance to win.
- Even in blowouts, Ryan never took Sanchez off the field to even let Tebow have mop up duty, which is common place for a "real" back up.
- Last week Tebow was active even though his rib injury was fresher than it was today.
- Tebow was cleared by doctors to play in this game, but Ryan decided to not dress him.
- After weeks of Sanchez disgracing himself, Ryan decides to try and "get a spark" for the team in a 3-0 game. A game where it was clear the Cardinals could not score on the Jets.
Why all of a sudden does Ryan go to his bench to replace a failing Sanchez? The only game Tebow is not available to fulfill his back up duties? Even ESPN writer and Jets beat man Rich Cimini has noticed these blatant inconsistencies.
What we have here is a full blown quarterback controversy. But of course, just screwing up is not good enough for them. You have to screw up LIKE A JET!!! They have a controversy that involves all three quarterbacks. Not just the standard two.
Will Ryan start Sanchez or McElroy next week? Will Tebow ever get a chance to get into this quarterback race, now that one has been established by the coach? What will this mean for the future of Sanchez, Tebow and McElroy here in New York?
Keep it here folks, it's just getting good.
5. Now that the smoke has cleared . . .
. . . Only the Jets can produce a sense of doom with a ballsy move the results in a win.
. . . Hopefully the rest of the Patriots opponents won't think that New England will stop running up the points now that they have clinched yet another division title.
. . . Wes Welker tied Jerry Rice's record for catching at least 10 receptions for the 17th time. But can he dance like Jerry, that's the question.