"Before there was Tim Tebow, there was Mark Sanchez," writes Filip Bondy in the Daily News this morning, and it seems to us that it's the exact opposite. Sanchez has spent the first three years of his career being proclaimed the next great superstar New York quarterback, even though his skills have never quite measured up; Tebow, for all the rigmarole that comes with the mere mention of his name, has had his skills questioned since before he was ever drafted. People were waiting for Tebow to fail; people have been waiting for Sanchez to succeed. The one thing they seem to have in common is playing terribly, and then somehow finding a way to win in the fourth quarter. That thing is probably enough, though.
Sanchez, as tends to be the case, looked like a backup quarterback at best for about three quarters yesterday before, as tends to be the case, he pulled it together in the fourth quarter for a deceivingly "lopsided" 34-19 win over the Redskins. The game was a lot more stressful for Jets fans than that score implies, but they always are, we suppose. The highlight play was a Sanchez lob to Santonio Holmes late in the fourth quarter, a perfect pass and perfect catch. This is how Sanchez works — how he worked against the Bills last week. He plays lousy, and then, suddenly, late, he completely turns it around and looks like the guy the Jets have been begging him to be since he was drafted. At this point, expecting him to change is likely folly.
Another Tebow-style trait: Sanchez didn't have any interceptions yesterday. If he can do that every week, the Jets will be ecstatic. In fact, they'll be in a better position than the Broncos are with Tebow. The Broncos need Tebow to will them to victories; the Jets only need Sanchez not to lose the game. As usual, as always.
So: You feel like talking playoffs? It might seem a little silly after barely outlasting the freaking Redskins, but the Jets' schedule hasn't changed just because they've almost blown games the last two weeks. The rest of the way: Kansas City, at Philadelphia, home against the Giants, and at Miami (a game that's suddenly looking a lot tougher). Right now, they're on the outside looking in. Playing around with ESPN's Playoff Scenario Generator, winning out certainly gets the Jets in, even though they're back at the sixth seed again. (This is their lot in life.) They can even afford a loss to, say, the Giants, and get in, if the Raiders keep losing like they did yesterday.
It seems a little ridiculous to keep talking about the Jets in the playoffs, as wobbly as they keep looking. But they keep winning, in spite of their issues. In that way, they have at last taken on the personality of their quarterback.