“For every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction” effect in the National Football League, and certainly once QB Peyton Manning was released by the Indianapolis Colts, we all knew the ripples would spread far and wide across professional football. For the better part of two weeks Manning shopped his wares from Denver, to Phoenix, to Miami, to San Francisco, to Nashville and as the time passed, the pressure built and clubs “puckered” to lure the future Hall of Famer to resurrect their fortunes.
“Thanks, now beat it”
Ultimately John Elway and the Denver Broncos held the “golden ticket”. This single decision catapulted QB Tim Tebow, one of the games top young stars, out of Denver and into the bright lights of the BIG APPLE. The New York Jets won the “Tebow Sweepstakes” giving a 4th and a 6th round pick, along with (reluctantly) paying back to Denver $2.5 million in salary advance.
The 2nd year quarterback, who became all rage in 2011 with his 4th quarter heroics and unconventional style, was rewarded with a one way ticket to JFK and entry into yet another “Quarterback Controversy”. Tebow outlasted the beleaguered Kyle Orton to eventually takeover as starter in Week 6, leading Denver to the AFC West title and an upset win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the the playoffs.
Tebow goes up against another stressed out signal caller in New York’s Mark Sanchez. Sanchez, selected by the Jets in the 2009 NFL Draft with the 5th overall pick, came highly touted by all the pundits and on top mock drafts throughout the national media. Sanchez and head coach Rex Ryan both arrived in 2009 to reverse the fortunes of Woody Johnson’s team after a one year shot with Brett Favre.
What did you expect?
As a former GM, selection and development of top 10 players can’t be taken lightly, especially under the “old CBA” way of doing business. Too much financial and opportunity cost is invested. Every ounce of effort must and should go into the development of young quarterback. Sanchez has not lived up to expectations of the fans and the media who put him on his pedestal in 2009. Despite only two seasons removed from a trip to the AFC Championship, he is being questioned from every angle imaginable; leadership, production, dedication.
The arrival of Tebow sends another message. Exactly what that might be is currently being interpreted by all those following the Jets and NFL football. It would behoove GM Mike Tannenbaum, head coach Rex Ryan and the rest of the Jets leadership to sit down with both players (perhaps even together) and let them know loud and clear what that message exactly is.
Neither can do it alone
Sanchez has yet to reach the full potential projected after being the second QB selected in 2009. After consecutive playoffs appearances, New York took a step back towards mediocrity this past season. The Jets picked the Southern Cal QB even with only a little over a season’s worth of starting experience. To thrust Sanchez into the situation he’s found himself should have come with a detailed developmental plan, and I don’t and haven’t seen one.
Former Offensive Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer is gone and enter former Miami Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano, who left that club without a clear cut quarterback after 4 seasons. Under the tutelage of Matt Cavanaugh, Sanchez has put up middle to below the pack numbers. Some within the organization have publicly questioned Sanchez’s commitment to improvement. Perhaps the addition of Tebow is their way of sending that message.
Tebow has his own struggles. It’s hard to question the excitement he brought to Denver, but he was never the QB that Elway and John Fox intended to hang their hopes on the future. His own development as a viable passing threat was temporarily put on hold with an offense transitioned to his own strengths, primarily because he couldn’t execute the base offense.
What’s the plan?
For either young player to thrive this season it will be important that the Jets be upfront and communicate with both exactly what their role will be. To trade for a 46.5% QB with an 8-8 record and ask him to push a 56.7% incumbent with an 8-8 record, that doesn’t make much football sense.
Square pegs + round holes = don’t fit.
But if the Jets are looking to maximize the inherent qualities of both players to strengthen their 13th rated offense in 2011, it’s never too early to clue both players in on that “developmental plan”. Otherwise NYJ will likely enter 2012 with two “head cases” under center.