06 September 2012
Does this look like a man who gives a shit about Tim Tebow?
"Selling seats, man."
Three simple words define the new Mark Sanchez. Like a puppy who needs time to find his bark, Sanchez, heading into his fourth NFL season, appears to have finally found his voice.
It was a straightforward question. A reported asked Sanchez what he thought about Jets owner Woody Johnson proclaiming, "I think you can never have too much Tebow." Instead of responding with a cliched, politically correct response like he would have in years past, Sanchez spoke the truth. He spoke his mind. Something he failed to do in his first three seasons with the team, something that made him come off as mentally weak and fragile.
Instead of saying, "Fack off! I was hungry!" in response to criticism for eating a hot dog mid-game his rookie season, he apologized and said it was unprofessional. Instead of saying, "This team was 9-2 two weeks ago, give me a facking break!" after Rex threatened to bench him after a poor performance versus the Dolphins in 2010, he said he needed to play better. And when virtually every player and "anonymous source" took a shot at him for his lack of leadership and preparation following last year's travesty of a season, he laid quiet, refusing to defend himself.
The past six weeks have been different, though. Whether it's emphatically telling the media, "This is my huddle!" or fairly criticizing his receivers for dropping passes in the preseason, Sanchez has finally learned to speak up for himself. While it's impossible to know exactly what caused this change in demeanor, it would be hard not to attribute his galvanization to, you guessed it, Tim Tebow.
It's an analogy that equates for any hard-working person. You're starting your fourth year at a company. In your first two years you brought the company to the brink of its most successful campaign in 40 years. Still, you weren't given any kudos, and your supporting cast was given much of the credit, even though you performed as well as anyone in key situations. The following year your bosses raised their expectations for your performance, but decided to replace colleagues with whom you had a strong rapport, in favor of less talented and less dedicated workers. The year unfolded and your production increased and improved in almost every category, but the team did not perform as well. Expecting others to get the blame, you were once again used as the scapegoat, and nary a colleague came to your defense.
During your summer vacation, somewhat unexpectedly, you were given a brand new contract. You took this to mean, "OK, they believe in me! Now they'll surround me with the people I need to reach my full potential!" But no. Less than two weeks later the company brings in someone who performs the exact same role as you and has a weaker skill set, but he's such a nice and charismatic guy that everyone rallies around him, including your main boss who says, "I think you can never have too much of that guy."
No one in the company articulates any confidence in you, but hey, you know you're good. You have financial security, and if it doesn't work out for you here, there are 31 other companies who could potentially hire you if you're fired. So why not say whatever's on your mind? Oh, they think this guy is going to replace me? Nope, this is MY position. We didn't perform well because my colleagues failed? Let's talk about them sucking, not me. My main boss says he can't get enough of my inferior backup? Well that's because he's not making as big a profit as he expected and needs a quick fix.
That's where Mark Sanchez's mind is at right now. He has nothing to lose. He has money, fame, talent, sleeps with a new, beautiful woman every week (see above), and has a bright future ahead of him, so fuck it, why not speak his mind? And if the Jets are going to be successful this season, beyond having a right tackle who has more range of motion than a traffic cone, or a wide receiver who does not have stones for hands, the Jets need Mark Sanchez to be a quarterback, not an apologist for everyone who has failed around him.
With that said, there is a lot of failure around him. General manager Mike Tannenbaum, with the guidance of his "we're in a media business" boss, has left the Jets offense in disarray. They have a highly overrated left tackle with a huge contract, a very below average left guard, and a right tackle, that well, was TRADED FOR WAYNE HUNTER! Do you know how bad you must be for someone to think, "Hey, if we can get Wayne Hunter in here instead of this guy, we HAVE to make that deal!" If you think Jason Smith, or Austin Howard for that matter, is going to be the answer at right tackle, you are impossibly lost. Moreover, the team has been preaching the return of "Ground and Pound," which truthfully worked for about two games during the 2009 playoffs and never since. The formula for this mythical strategy is a strong offensive line plus a pair of dynamic running backs, one full of speed and the other, power. The Jets though, they have neither. Shonn Greene has proven himself to be nothing more than a complementary running back, and if you honestly believe Bilal Powell is going to be a significant contributor, you're not even lost, you're off the fucking map.
Actually, hold on. The wide receivers are trash, too. Your number one receiver is a number two at best, and your number two who is a number four at best, is a rookie who had 49 receptions in his ENTIRE college career. Not to mention Chaz Schillens and Patrick Turner are your backup options if either of them fail.
OK, noooow, DEEP BREATH.
This Jets team does have many strengths. The quarterback has proven he has the skills and makeup to win on the big stage. Four road playoff wins in your first two seasons. Only Mark Sanchez can say he's done that. The defensive side of the ball is where this team will really excel. The D-line and pass rush have been steadily improving with Muhammad Wilkerson, Quinton Coples and Aaron Maybin all set to have impactful seasons. While the linebackers are aging and injury-prone, David Harris remains the bedrock of the unit and should play well enough to favorably acquit Calvin Pace, Bart Scott and Bryan Thomas.
The defense has its biggest potential to shine in the secondary with the once-in-a-lifetime talent of Darrelle Revis, the unpredictable but generally consistent play of Antonio Cromartie, and based on the preseason, LaRon Landry appears to be a MASSIVE upgrade over Eric Smith, with Yeremiah Bell proving to be a commensurate replacement for Jim Leonhard.
I still have absolutely no faith in Nick Folk and I honestly could not tell you who the team's punter will be Sunday, but hey, we have the WORLD'S GREATEST SPECIAL TEAMS COACH WHO NEVER MAKES MISTAKES AND MAKES US LAUGH AND FORGET ABOUT HOW ORDINARY HE IS BY CURSING AND LOOKING ANGRY ALL THE TIME.
So yeah, in review, the Jets CAN win the Super Bowl, but they will have to treat each game like a soccer match, with every score being a potential death blow to their lofty aspirations. I expect to see lots of 2-0 and 3-2 and 4-3 final scores if the Jets are to be successful. The only way they win by more traditional final scores is if, like we said, Mark Sanchez continues to say, "Fuck it!" and becomes a quarterback and not an apologist.
The namesake of this blog remains the most important of the team. Rex spoke his mind and said, "Fuck it!" for his first three seasons, guaranteeing Super Bowls and world domination. It didn't work out; he's taken a step back to actually focus on coaching (let's hope). Sanchez, it's his turn to be the team's outspoken leader. If he fails, whatever, he'll be OK. So will Woody Johnson. He'd rather have Tebow anyway.
10-6, Wild Card
Win Super Bowl
(It has to come true eventually, right?)
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