The Rundown: “Comfortable” Does Not Equal Starter

Brian Bassett , TheJetsBlog.com

Yesterday John Idzik joined WFAN and everyone got their panties in a twist about a comment that new Jets GM made about the millstone around the team’s neck team’s top quarterback Mark Sanchez.

idzik“Yeah, I’m comfortable with Mark being a Jet. I told him as well, we’re going to add competition. […] It’s going to help make Mark and everybody else better,” Idzik told WFAN. “I think he’s chomping at the bit. And he wants to get going with his new coordinator [Marty Mornhinweg]. He’s all about competing. I got a really good feeling from Mark.”

I think at this point people started freaking out a bit.  Comfortable with Sanchez? What does that mean? Are we going to have to deal with another season of his atrocious play?

Maybe, but maybe not. 

It was of course this very situation that got Tannenbaum fired, so Idzik had better be comfortable with Mark Sanchez, because in all likelihood he’s going to be on the roster on 2013.  With a $12.8 million cap figure and a worse overall hit should the Jets cut him outright, Mark Sanchez might be immovable from the 2013 roster.  But just because he might not be moved off the roster doesn’t mean he’s going to be the starter.

In a perfect world, Mark Sanchez would suddenly become the player that the Jets drafted him to be with the fifth pick of the 2009 NFL Draft, but no one seems to even think that’s a plausible outcome.  From what I saw in 2012, I don’t see how that’s possible either.  Sanchez vacillates between crippling hesitance and locking on to a target … neither of which are much good when talking about a starting NFL quarterback.  Maybe he could be serviceable with some hard work, but it took Jim Harbaugh in San Francisco to straighten out Alex Smith and at best he made him tolerable.  I see Sanchez in the same type of rut and while Morhinweg is talented, I don’t know if his tutoring will be enough.

The worst case scenario for the Jets with Sanchez is that the team can’t find a trading partner to take No. 6, even if it means the Jets eat most of his salary.  With Sanchez stuck on the Jets, the quarterback (shrewdly) then refuses to restructure his deal.  This then severely limits any chance that the Jets might have had to sign a free agent or event take on another contract via trade.  The Jets look for a player in the draft and either can’t connect with one or they find one that doesn’t pan out as quickly as the team would like.  Meanwhile, Sanchez then continues to look … well … Sanchez-ey this spring and summer making a final decision on a starter that much more agonizing. Then Jets are stuck with Sanchez and his massive cap number for 2013 with insufficient production and insufficient competition from one of their highest paid players on the team.  I think that is the scenario that most everyone expects to play out and it’s a very reasonable concern.

The best case scenario regarding Sanchez is that the Jets would be able to trade Sanchez and eat just some of his salary, thereby opening up some cap space on the team as well as getting the Jets out from under the shadow of what Sanchez has been for the Jets in the last two years.  The Jets then judiciously use the freed money to find some players that might act as bridge for the Jets quarterback spot until they find a long-term answer.

All the middle scenarios involve some level of cap relief, the removal of Sanchez from the team, or the trade/acquisition of viable talent at the quarterback spot.  It’s fair to think that from those shades of gray, something could happen to make life a little more easier for the Jets and more “comfortable” for the team’s new GM.

While the Jets always scout every spot, it sounds as if the Jets were scouting some quarterbacks heavily this past year.  According to the Star-Ledger, the Jets were keeping a close eye on WVU’s Geno Smith, Logan Thomas (decided to stay in school at Virginia Tech), Syracuse’s Ryan Nassib among others.

Word is that the Jets brass were watching the quarterbacks intently in Mobile last week at Senior Bowl practice, but unfortunately it looks like there’s not any players jumping out as being justifiable at the Jets current slotting in the first round.  After two solid quarterback classes, 2013 is widely agreed to have a lack of talent at the top of the draft board.

There’s still plenty of time for team to do evaluations of players, but at the current time and based on their current slotting it looks like the Jets would be best served using their second or third rounder to acquire a quarterback .  

The point of all this?  John Idzik knows what he was walking into when he joined the Jets, but Mark Sanchez is going to be a huge factor in the Jets 2013 plans, like it or not.  Idzik said it himself, there’s going to be competition.

Either Sanchez is going to thrive in it or he’s not.  His career hangs in the balance and the Jets are comfortable with finding someone to play the spot whether he’s capable of it or not.