Jets Toss Sanchez into the Fire as Schottenheimer Packs His Bags

by | January 11, 2012 at 11:50 AM | NFL, Sports

(Lynne Sladky/AP)

The shakeup in New York has begun, and in true NFL fashion there were casualties. As one door closes another one opens and so on.

Tuesday night’s sweeping overhaul left three coaches in its wake: offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, offensive line coach Bill Callahan and receivers coach Henry Ellard. The most polarizing of the three is Schottenheimer, whose 25th-ranked offense was at the helm when the Jets spiraled out of control to an 8-8 finish and an early offseason.

The Jets had said Schottenheimer’s job was secure, unless he found a head coaching position elsewhere. Last Friday he interviewed for Jack Del Rio’s former job in Jacksonville, but was beat out by Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey. That’s when Schottenheimer was shown the door Tuesday and the finger pointing took a mutinous turn.

According to Jets beat writer Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, rookie Greg McElroy isn’t the only Jet-bashing Jet lamenting a lost season, he’s just the only one attaching his name to it. Per unnamed but “well-respected” players and sources inside the organization, Mark Sanchez is not the answer, despite two consecutive AFC Championship Game appearances in 2009 and ’10.

“We have to bring in another quarterback that will make him work at practice,” said one player. “He’s lazy and content because he knows he’s not going to be benched.”

That other quarterback, per several reports, is a healthy Peyton Manning, an awfully presumptuous option considering Manning is employed by the Colts. Manning’s health is also an unknown, never mind that he’s 36 and may not have any interest in joining his younger brother, Eli, in New York. Still, the idea of Peyton calling the shots in place of Sanchez is tantalizing, and a “no-brainer” according to one anonymous voice.

“Come on. That’s a no-brainer,” a Jets source said. “If you have a chance to get a healthy 36-year-old Peyton Manning and you don’t do it, then you’re stupid. If I could get a healthy 36-year-old Peyton Manning, then, hell yeah, I would trade Sanchez.”

If the idea sounds too good to be true maybe it isn’t. There is a key piece already in place. The presence of Manning’s former offensive coordinator and mentor Tom Moore, whom the Jets hired as a consultant last December, could be enough incentive to lure Manning away from Indy and leave things in the hands of Andrew Luck, the highly-touted Stanford quarterback whom the Colts are expected to select No. 1 overall in April’s draft.

“We already have his coach — Tom Moore,” one well-respected player said. “Plus, he’s a field general and will get everyone lined up. He will get his playmakers the ball. We can win a Super Bowl with Peyton.”

And with Sanchez?

“How can we when he’s not improving at all?” one of Sanchez’s teammates said. “He thinks he is, but he’s not. He has shown us what he’s capable of.”

A 56.7 percent completion average, 26 touchdowns, 18 interceptions, four fumbles and 39 sacks in 2011. That was Sanchez’s year—not the kind of numbers you expect from your franchise QB.

But is it fair to pile on the third-year starter from USC when his offensive line was letting everything and the wind through the gaps?

“Everybody got down on the quarterback,” a Jets source said. “But they weren’t looking at the situations we were putting him in. I don’t think he’s as bad as people are making him out to be. When the —- started snowballing and he lost confidence, he never recovered. Then, you saw him making one stupid throw and one stupid mistake after another.”

And the Jets missed the playoffs and three prominent offensive coaches lost their jobs. Sounds like a locker room full of bitter memories and discontents.

Such is the NFL for the 20 teams left behind in January. Such is the dilemma in N.Y.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.