The New York Jets have finally made a change at quarterback. It came about five weeks too late with the team out of the running for the AFC playoffs, but the change has come, nonetheless. The writhing ball of ineptitude that was Mark Sanchez and the Jets' offense is no more, while the team has chosen to bypass Tim Tebow and go right to third-stringer, Greg McElroy.
It's an interesting choice, and probably a bit of an eye-opener for Tebow, but based on the offense and only two games remaining on the schedule, probably the right one.
With that said, it makes Jets fans wonder: will the team stay on Sanchez's hook simply because they've guaranteed him $8 million in 2013, or will they cut their losses and try to upgrade at arguably the game's most important position?
After all, it's not like this is a team that needs a Peyton Manning to succeed. They reached two AFC title games with a young Sanchez before, and if they make the right moves, the next guy in will simply have to follow suit and manage the offense. In fact, in place of just managing, he'll simply not have to completely ruin it all by himself.
Whether or not the Jets finally wake up and pass the torch, if you will, remains to be determined. But if they do, it should probably be to one of the following NFL quarterbacks:
Michael Vick - Philadelphia Eagles
Some say Vick is done in Philly, and some say not. It could go either way, as it depends on who comes in to replace head coach Andy Reid. Perhaps the new guy will side with Vick, or opt to roll with Nick Foles. I'm betting the turnover and injury-prone Vick will be cast aside, and he'll likely gladly oblige. After all, he got the snot beaten out of him behind Philly's horrible offensive line, and really hasn't had a firm backing for about a year now.
In New York, he'd have a much better pass protecting line and a much better defense. The Jets would have to get him some better weapons in the passing game and secure an actual right tackle, but it could be a fit that works. Vick does more than game manage and can bring actual excitement and potential to a dead offense.
Alex Smith - San Francisco 49ers
Smith is my personal pick, but with Vick listed above, you can see I acknowledge that he's not the most talented passer likely to be available, not would he be the popular choice. However, while he's not the freak athlete like Vick and doesn't have a cannon arm, he's much more accurate and comfortable from within the pocket, and has more recent success.
He guided the 49ers to the NFC title game a year ago, and had it not been for a concussion, very well could have again. However, with the more dynamic Colin Kapernick in place, Smith could ask for a release or trade heading into 2013, and the 49ers are likely to grant him his wish.
New York should top his list of teams to sign with, as they'll be looking for a game manager who will simply do more good than harm. Smith is the best natural fit for their offensive scheme as it stands.
2013 NFL Draft Options - Landry Jones, Matt Barkley and ???
The last time the Jets took a quarterback in the first round (fifth overall), it didn't work out so well. But that doesn't mean it can't or they shouldn't try again. In fact, if they can't or don't want to get Vick or Smith, that has to be the route they go. Going back to Sanchez or having some sort of ugly quarterback competition between the three scrubs they currently have just aren't viable options. Not if Rex Ryan wants to keep his job, anyways.
One way or another, the Jets have to draft a quarterback. If they're stuck at the 15th spot as they currently are, then Oklahoma's Landry Jones could make a lot of sense. He'd be an arguably reach at this point, but he has the skill-set of an NFL starter and could actually be a good pick. USC's Matt Barkley is the big name that is likely to slide a bit. Can he make it all the way down to 15? Will the Jets be weary of drafting another USC player? That all remains to be seen. Guys like Tyler Wilson, E.J. Manuel, Mike Glennon and Zac Dysert could all somehow factor into the equation, but all (except maybe Wilson) are probably second or third round options (if not later).
All we know for sure is that the Jets will be no better than 8-8 for the second straight season, and no better than 9-7 for the third time in the last four years. The quarterback position has been mediocre at best during that span, and if New York is ever going to contend for a Super Bowl, they'll have to make a dramatic change for the future.