Mark Sanchez had one of the worst performances for a Monday night game in recent memory as the New York Jets lost to the Tennessee Titans, and fell out of playoff contention. He threw four interceptions and fumbled the ball on the team’s final possession, ending New York's improbable run for a postseason berth.
It was a fitting way for Sanchez and the Jets to play their last meaningful game of 2012. The quarterback has led one of the most anemic offenses this year, failing to score at least 20 points in six of the team’s last seven games.
The Jets had high expectations this year. Head coach Rex Ryan claimed that this might be the most talented team he has ever coached. Now, New York will miss the postseason for a second straight year.
There have been a lot of calls for the Jets to replace Sanchez. Has the quarterback played his last game for New York?
It’s very possible that Monday’s performance will cost Sanchez his job. After the game, Ryan was asked if Sanchez would start under center in Week 16.
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"I'm not ready to say who will be our quarterback next week,” stated Ryan.
Ryan benched Sanchez in the second half of the team’s game against the Arizona Cardinals two weeks ago. Even though backup Greg McElroy entered the game and led New York to a victory, Sanchez got the start the following week against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Ryan has been extremely loyal to Sanchez, but Monday’s performance may have been the final straw.
Ryan's comments indicate that there’s a good chance Sanchez has lost his starting job for the final two games. If that’s the case, either McElroy or Tim Tebow would get the start next week against the San Diego Chargers.
If Sanchez loses his job, that doesn’t mean he won’t be back in 2013. In a perfect world, the Jets would be able to release Sanchez with no repercussions. However, the contract extension New York signed him to in the offseason, stipulates that they owe him a guaranteed $8.25 million next year. The team might be reluctant to release him and endure a big salary cap hit.
The Jets still have a few options. They could look to trade Sanchez in the offseason, or even keep him on the bench in 2013. Either way, Jets management is likely realizing that they can’t win a Super Bowl, or perhaps even contend for the division title, with Sanchez as their starter.
After winning four road playoff games in his first two seasons, Sanchez has regressed noticeably. His 67.9 passer rating is 33rd in the NFL. He’s committed 50 turnovers, dating back to last season. In 2012, he is one turnover short of registering twice as many turnovers as touchdowns.
New York still has to decide what to do with Sanchez, but his future as a Jets starter is in serious jeopardy.