|Sanchez will need to show steady improvement in 2012 if he wants to keep his job. (US PRESSWIRE)|
Mark Sanchez may technically be the Jets' starting quarterback, but his destiny seems to be something less lofty than that thanks to the addition of a certain backup QB/RB/PP* who has a knack for getting on the field and winning football games.
On Wednesday, CBSSports.com's Clark Judge wrote that the team's most recent decision to bemoan Sanchez's "poor decision-making" and laud the throwing motion of his understudy is all part of the master plan to light a fire under the former USC quarterback who played in two AFC Championship games in his first two NFL seasons. (No need to worry, coach Rex Ryan promised in January that he'd "fix" the locker room and maybe this is his not-so-subtle way of going about it.)
What this means going forward: from now until … well, Sanchez gets replaced, the story will be about how he's playing relative to the other quarterback on the roster. Everybody has an opinion on how the Jets are handling the situation, from fans, media, other players, those with just a passing interest in football (pun intended) and even former Jets punters. Yep, that's right, Steve Weatherford, who didn't leave the Jets on the best terms but landed with the Giants and promptly won a Super Bowl, spoke about Sanchez's development during a recent appearance on NFL.com's Cover Two podcast.
"I like Mark, I think he's a very talented quarterback, but from my standpoint, I haven't seen a lot of maturation from the position," Weatherford said Thursday. "When you're a quarterback and you come in, and you're expected to be the face of the franchise, and you're expected to lead the team, that's a lot to take on as a rookie, but as the years go on, I think you're expected to mature, skill-wise, and also mature as a leader, and to be honest with you, as much as I like the guy, I just haven't seen that."
Before you dismiss Weatherford as just a glorified soccer player (we don't share such sentiments -- we love punters at EoF), it's a common complaint about Sanchez. Our biggest question: is putting pressure on Sanchez by adding competition the best way to get the most out of him? (Of course, that question leads to this one: If Sanchez can't easily win the job over a guy who throws like this, does he even deserve to be the starting quarterback?)
Which brings us back to Judge's column. "So there's a sense of ... yeah, urgency ... that might've been missing, and maybe that's what the Jets want to manufacture. If the fear of losing a playoff game motivated Sanchez before, maybe the fear of losing his job motivates him now."
That's certainly what Ryan is banking on.
* PP = punt protector. Obviously.
For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our Pick-6 Podcast and NFL newsletter. You can follow Ryan Wilson on Twitter here: @ryanwilson_07.