The NFL's Week 17 is approaching, which means it's time for coaches and talking heads everywhere to snarl and snort over an age-old question: Is it time to rest the starters? Sit your first-stringers, and they might lose their edge. Trot them out, and they run the risk of suffering injuries. With the Jets now locked into a playoff spot, Rex Ryan is facing this very decision with quarterback Mark Sanchez when the Jets face the Buffalo Bills next week.
Via ESPN's Rich Cimini:
"Now, obviously, his health is the No. 1 concern," Ryan said on a conference call from Chicago, where the Jets were stranded Monday because of the snowstorm in the Northeast. "It's kind of a fine line because he's hot right now. We can't afford for him to take a dip. We need him to stay at this level. ...That's what I'm weighing right now."
It's a pickle that will likely generate some shouting between fans and media folks, particularly because Sanchez is nursing some torn cartilage in his right throwing shoulder. ESPN's Ian O'Connor has already weighed in in favor of benching Sanchez, noting that his backup, Mark Brunell, is on the wrong side of 40 and hasn't gotten to spin much since joining the Jets. Thus, any further injury to the starter might spell disaster. At the same time, Sanchez has struggled this season in games following two-week layoffs. Ultimately, Ryan's decision might very well be to start Sanchez, let him call a few plays and get his blood flowing, then pull him early. Pretty much any coaching move will draw somebody's ire, but as long as Sanchez is healthy and sharp come playoff time, all will be forgiven.