In three weeks, Mark Sanchez has descended from Mr. Poise to a scared kid with patchy skin who is in danger of losing his job. The NFL works really freaking fast.
Sanchez was wretched yesterday in an overtime loss to the lowly Bills, throwing five interceptions, a statistic that, amazingly, doesn't exactly do his afternoon justice. He was simultaneously confused and brash all day, with the happy feet and immutable self-assurance of a man who doesn't know what he's doing but forges ahead as if he does, hoping no one will notice. People noticed. To be fair, his day looked worse statistically against the Bills than it would have against most teams. The Bills had the bad habit of intercepting his passes and then turning the ball right back over to him so that he could do it again. He tended to oblige.
Coach Rex Ryan, whose plan has suddenly gone all wrong, admitted after the game that he had considered benching Sanchez for Kellen Clemens but figured Sanchez still "gave us the best chance to win." The weather was awful — as you might have noticed if you ventured outside yesterday — but Sanchez, in another media-friendly move he's already famous for, took the responsibility himself.
"The weather is not a factor when you make a bad read," he said. "The weather is not a factor when you miss Dustin (Keller) wide open down the middle of the field. I wish I could blame the weather." ....
"I've played six games and we've lost three and two of them I would say you can blame on No.6," Sanchez said. "It feels pretty bad."
You have to admire a guy who can take blame in the third-person numerical.
The Jets have three winnable games coming up: at Oakland and home against Miami and Jacksonville. The only thing that could stop the Jets from winning at least two of those games would be an erratic quarterback. It's worth noting that the numbers say Sanchez isn't just in the lower tier of quarterbacks, he's in the lower tier of rookie quarterbacks. (Injured) Matthew Stafford of Detroit and Josh Johnson of Tampa Bay both have higher passing ratings than Sanchez (he's 34th out of 36 qualifiers, just ahead of Oakland's JaMarcus Russell) and he's tied for the NFL lead in interceptions.
This was supposed to be a rebuilding-on-the-fly year for the Jets, a (poised!) rookie quarterback working as a game manager so the defense could control the pace of dull, 16–13 victories. The first three wins made us look for more than that. Perhaps now we're back to where our expectations should have been all along.