- Last Updated: 2:17 PM, December 6, 2012
- Posted: 1:40 AM, December 6, 2012
It Isn’t something any coach would, or should, ever admit, that any franchise-rattling decision is based on a player’s contract.
But ask yourself this question: If Jets owner Woody Johnson owed Greg McElroy $8.25 guaranteed million next season, do you think he would have had a better shot at starting Sunday in Jacksonville?
What was it Deep Throat advised Woodward and Bernstein? Just follow the money. And what was it the late George Young used to say? It’s always about the money.
Reintroducing Mark Sanchez, the Moneyball starting quarterback of your New York Jets — aka the $anshise.
Coach Rex Ryan formed a zero with his fingers when someone asked how much the guaranteed money owed to his favorite son was a factor.
“Absolutely zero,” he said Wednesday.
Right. Absolutely zero chance the Jets can afford to keep him on the bench. It makes no cents to them now.
“That’s the last thing on my mind, “ Sanchez said. “I don’t know, ask the coaches and management, that’s not my deal.”
Here’s the deal: $anchez is guaranteed $20.5 this year and next. The remaining $37.75 million from 2014-16 is not guaranteed. His cap charge this season is $7.85 million.
McElroy? His base salary this season is $465,000, which jumps to $555,000 in 2013 and $645,000 in 2014.
Nevertheless, $anchez has been put on notice. He is on a short leash now. Which means he better be as mentally tough as Ryan swears he is.
Last Chancez for $anchez.
He better wake up and wake up now, and stop doing the things that cause his team to lose the game.
“I think I’m poised and ready to play a good game,” Sanchez said.
And he should know there were voices of dissent behind the green door, and it is possible Ryan and general manager Mike Tannenbaum had to convince the owner that he has invested too much in the quarterback to give up on him as a tax writeoff. $anchez should know Ryan deliberated long and hard and solicited opinions from just about everyone except former offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and kept him twisting in the wind for two days before handing him the ball again
“I think he was more or less sending a message,” Sanchez said. “And, it’s well received. I know. I got it.”
$anchez should know there is no McEl-joy in Jetsville today. He should know he not only has to win back a fan base, he has to get his teammates to rally around him the way they rallied around McElroy.
“Sometimes when you take that step back, your view becomes clearer, and I believe that that’s going to be the case,” Ryan said.
It wasn’t much of a step back. The hope is that he has been scared straight.
At any rate, the game has changed for him. $anchez has no more excuses. If he wants to have a career here, he has to stop butt-fumbling away the opportunity of a lifetime.
Because if he fails, then the man who just threw him this lifeline eventually will sink along with him. The owner may be involved, but he is not Woody Steinbrenner.
“Where I’m real fortunate is, from the day Mr. Johnson hired me, he said it’s 100 percent my decision on who plays, and what their role is,” Ryan said.
But does Mr. Johnson agree with this decision?
“Absolutely, it’s a New York Jet decision, and everybody in this organization, may have difference of opinions and things like that,” Ryan said, “but at the end of the day, this is a New York Jet decision, and we feel good about it, and I truly believe that.”
The Jets haven’t done $anchez any favors by not surrounding him with playmakers, changing offensive coordinators and inviting Tebowmania to lurk behind him. $anchez has not proven capable of rising above the muck.
And now there is the danger he will be looking over his shoulder. And now Ryan runs the risk that he has a shaken quarterback terrified of making a mistake.
“I’ll be fine, I’ll be fine,” Sanchez said.
Ryan talked about the tactical color codes that were implemented for $anchez as a rookie — red, yellow, green: “I guess you could say we’re in red right now,” the coach said.
For crying out loud, $anchez is a fourth-year quarterback. They should be in green every damn week.
“Red doesn’t mean that hey, we’re just going to run or throw the ball 50 rows up in the stands,” Ryan said. “When there’s throws to be made, you complete the pass. We expect you to do it. It’s just not force the ball.”
McElroy took the high road and expressed his trust in Ryan.
“I will accept my role, whatever my role may be,” McElroy said.
The irony now is that instead of the home fans chanting for McElroy, the Jacksonville fans will be chanting for Tim Tebow, as long as his fractured ribs cooperate.
“For the guys that have been here, they know, that in the toughest circumstances, I played my best,” Sanchez said. “You never want it to come to this point, but ... we’re here.”
The point where he either gets off his butt with a vengeance and gives the Jets more bang for their bucks, or finds himself discarded onto the scrap heap of former failed franchise quarterbacks in the regret-filled place they have come to know as Moneybawl.