- Posted: 8:08 AM, March 10, 2012
Only the Jets can make the right move and still find a way to do it the wrong way.
The Jets did the right thing Friday night by showing their faith in quarterback Mark Sanchez and stepping out of the Peyton Manning Sweepstakes.
Continuity is a dish the Jets need to consume more of for breakfast, lunch and dinner -- not the constant knee-jerk change that has defined their organization for too many years (see Brian Schottenheimer’s exit as the most recent example and Brett Favre as the poster child example).
The only reason the Jets slinked out of the Manning chase, however, is because Manning made it clear to them he never had any intention of considering any Jets offer -- most likely preferring to stay out of his brother Eli’s hair in New York.
This move by the Jets confirmed what I believed from the start: That the they were never a serious player in this Manning game and that, for reasons only they can explain, they allowed their supposed interest to linger until it became obvious they were not even on Manning’s bench of backup options.
Woody Johnson and the Jets can do anything they choose with their money, so giving Sanchez the three-year, $40.5 million extension is fine.
But why now?
Why months after everyone, including Jets brass and Sanchez himself, acknowledged that Sanchez took some steps backward in 2011?
Sanchez is a charmed guy. Given no competition from the moment he was drafted, he never had to win his job, then never had a backup to push him, and now, thanks to this Manning circumstance, he’s been given $20 million more in guaranteed money to a contract that’s already paid him some $28 million guaranteed from the original deal.
Surely, Sanchez will be sending a nice Christmas care package of fruits and cheeses to Manning wherever he ends up playing as a “thank you’’ for all this.
Just as the Jets feigned interest in Manning reeks of a public relations move because they knew their fan base would be salivating over the prospect of having the Hall of Fame quarterback on the team, this also smacks of a kiss-and-make-up move to placate Sanchez because they were so public about their intent to pursue Manning.
The Jets could have -- and should have -- never even indicated publicly they might be interested in Manning and they never would have had to dole out more money to Sanchez. They could have quietly made their inquiry to Manning’s people to gauge if there was any interest then quietly moved on, continuing to profess their belief in Sanchez.
This extension and its timing, too, plays into the growing theory that Sanchez is coddled by the team.
Despite this cynicism the Jets bring out in me, having dealt with the franchise for as long as I have and seen so many things take place that have made no sense, I am a believer in Sanchez.
When friends, colleagues and random Jets fans express their disdain in him, I try to talk sense into them and let them know that this is a quarterback who was a part of two AFC Championship runs, who’s played some of his best games in the biggest moments, and who has progressed in his three years.
The Jets need to stop playing games like this feigned Manning hunt and start focusing on putting a legitimate receiving corps around Sanchez, who’s had many of his receivers come and go in three years.
Now would be a good time for the Jets to put some continuity in place with Sanchez’s receivers.
As for the financial end of things, it would do Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum some good not to insult anyone’s intelligence and indicate that helping out the team’s salary cap position had “nothing’’ to do with this move.
Because in this business, it’s always about the money.
To quote George Young, the late Giants general manager who was always a refreshing breath of fresh air with his straight-forward, say-it-like-it-is approach, “Whenever they say it’s not about the money, it’s about the money.’’