Soon after the Jets were officially eliminated from the playoffs, the finger pointing began. And no one seemed to receive as much blame as third-year quarterback, Mark Sanchez. In his final three games of the season, Sanchez threw seven interceptions to only five touchdowns.  Sanchez only completed two(!!) passes of 30 or more yards during that stretch. Sanchez looked a little hesitant and even a little ‘skiddish’ (thanks Boomer) during his final game against Miami. However, I’m going to give Sanchez a pass for his poor play down the stretch. Instead, the blame will fully taken by two of my favorite people…

Could It Be Mr. T? Rex? Both?

Culprit #1: Mike Tannenbaum, General Manager aka Mr. T

Good ole, Mr. T. Ever since Mr. T laid eyes on Rex, he has eaten up every word and suggestion made by the gregarious head coach. That first suggestion included keeping offensive coordinator, Brian Schottenheimer. Schottenheimer has been the offensive coordinator of the Jets since 2006–and has never had a consistent offensive strategy. Schotty relied on the ‘Ground & Pound’ in the form of Curtis Martin before giving way to Thomas Jones. Schottenheimer hung his hat on a massive offensive line that thrived at run blocking–and it worked. The Jets used that offensive line to plow its way right into the AFC Championship in 2009. However, the Colts were too much and Mr. T let the ‘Ground & Pounders’ leave town. Players like Thomas Jones and Alan Fancea left town while rookies and unproven veterans unsuccessfully tried to continue the pounding. 

The Jets haven’t been a good running team since Jones and Faneca left town–which in turn put a ton of pressure on Sanchez. Add in the fact that Tannenbaum gave the most selfish player in the NFL $45 million to catch passes and signed an ex-fellow who is surviving on a season to season basis. I can only imagine the torment Sanchez went through with these two players demanding the football. It sounds very similar to the days when Eli Manning dealt with Tiki Barber and Jeremy Shockey. Funny how Eli took off after those two players left..

Anyway, Mr. T enabled Schottenheimer to change the offensive philosophy by bringing in players who did not fit the Jet mold. Sanchez does not call the plays or sign the players. The egg is clearly on Mr. T’s face for not putting Sanchez in the right position to succeed. 

Culprit #2: Rex Ryan

The Jets are spiraling out of control (no pun intended). Ryan is enabling his players to bash each other, the Jet organization, and more importantly, his quarterback. Holmes and Sanchez have apparently been jawing at each other all season long and Ryan has failed to put an end to it. With the way the rules are, teams live and die with their quarterbacks. Rex has to make it a priority that his quarterback does not have any distractions–especially from his team mates.

In addition, Ryan’s foolish Super Bowl predictions places an extreme amount of pressure on his team. Add in the inexperience of Sanchez, a tough Patriot team within the division, and extra motivation from his opponents and Sanchez is facing an absolute nightmare on a weekly basis. It’s damn near impossible for any player to live up to those expectations–let alone a third-year player.

Conclusion

Let’s all pump the breaks. Mark Sanchez is a young quarterback who has a lot of potential. It’s not his fault Mr. T can’t appropriately field the right personnel. It’s not his fault that Rex makes bone-headed Super Bowl predictions. It’s not his fault that the attitudes of his wide receivers belong in the NBA. Everyone just needs to let Mark, be Mark. From a personnel and coaching standpoint, things must change if Sanchez wants to succeed in New York. Ultimately, Brian Schottenheimer won’t be back next season, Plaxico probably won’t be back, either. The Jets would take a massive cap hit by releasing or cutting Holmes, but perhaps the Redskins or Raiders become desperate (and stupid enough) to trade for him.

It took John Elway 17 seasons to win the Super Bowl. Dan Marino never won the big one, nor did Mr. Boomer Esiason. Let’s all relax, ok. Mark Sanchez is entering his fourth season–a critical one for his development as a passer and leader. Let’s not get carried away with Super Bowl silliness, ok?