Y’all know I like Mark Sanchez about as much as anybody outside his immediate family, what with his handsomeness and his sideline hot-dogs and his fondness for Taco Bell and everything. And I hardly think Sanchez is responsible for all or even most of what’s gone wrong for the Jets this season. Every aspect of their offense has failed: running, passing, blocking, catching.
But even for this Sanchez apologist, it was impossible to watch the fourth quarter of yesterday’s Jets win over the Cardinals and not think Greg McElroy is the team’s best option at quarterback right now. It’s a tiny sample, but he threw a demonstrably better ball than Sanchez, appeared to make better decisions and panicked less frequently. Even if it was only a small burst, the offense functioned better with McElroy at the helm.
A corollary is that Bilal Powell shared the backfield with McElroy for much of his stint, and Powell appears to be a bit better at the things the Jets need from their running back than Shonn Greene is. I’m no scout, so take all this with multiple grains of salt: You hear broadcasters describe Greene as “a downhill runner” pretty frequently, and I think that’s in part a nice way of saying he takes a long time to reach full speed. When you’re playing the offensive line — and I’ve played a lot of offensive line — you resent those guys, because holes opened on the interior are only going to last a split second. Greene seems to be at his best on slower-developing off-tackle runs on which he can build up speed behind a pulling lineman then use his size to barrel over linebackers and defensive backs. Though smaller, Powell actually seems better suited for quick inside hits and traps, since he looks to accelerate faster. And based on very little evidence, I suspect Powell might be the superior blocker on passing plays.
As a Jets fan, then, I’d rather see them play out their inevitable march to 8-8 with McElroy and Powell getting the bulk of the playing time. I’m not ready to entirely bail on the idea of Mark Sanchez being a capable NFL quarterback, but it looks pretty clear now that he’s not going to emerge as an excellent or even very good NFL quarterback. With McElroy, that possibility still exists, and would be something to dream on and assess for the last month of the season.
Plus, with Sanchez on the sidelines holding the clipboard with his helmet off, Jets fans get to benefit from his handsomeness without suffering through his interceptions. Call me when Greg McElroy looks this good on a boat phone: