In the wake of Sunday's 34-0 loss to the Niners, Jets head coach Rex Ryan offered a tepid vote-of-confidence to his quarterback, Mark Sanchez.
This from the New York Daily News:
"I just know in my heart right now that this is not the time," Ryan said of making a quarterback change. "I think Tim [Tebow] is an outstanding player. I think Mark is. Right now, I think Mark gives us our best opportunity to win. I will always do, in my opinion, what's in the best interest of this team ... and that interest is what gives us the best chance to win. No matter who it is."
With four games in the books, Sanchez is the league's least accurate passer (49.2 percent), and his quarterback rating is the worst in the NFL among all non-rookies (69.6). If Ryan were to make a change at QB right now, this week, it would be tough to argue that he wasn't doing it for football reasons. Sanchez is coming off a miserable game (13-for-29, 103 yards, INT), and it wasn't his first such dud this year.
But we can't pretend that replacing Sanchez with Tim Tebow (or even third-stringer Greg McElroy) would be a simple, noiseless transition. This ain't like flipping the switch from Matt Cassel to Brady Quinn. The team would need to reshuffle the playbook in a significant way, plus the new quarterback would have to deal with an unusually poor group of receivers, now that Santonio Holmes has landed on IR. (This week's starting wideouts, in all likelihood: Chaz Schilens and Jeremy Kerley. Good luck with that, NY). If the Jets were to make a change at QB in Week 5, they'd be doing it on the Monday night stage, facing the league's most dominant defense (Houston). Perhaps not the best timing.
Sanchez isn't the only unimpressive New York starter who received an endorsement from Ryan this week, as Shonn Greene's position atop the depth chart was recently reaffirmed as well. Bilal Powell played 14 more snaps than Greene in Week 4, but Rex attributed that edge to game flow:
"When you look at it, [Powell] had more snaps because quite honestly he's our third-down back, and when you get behind like we were behind, you're obviously throwing the ball much more," Ryan said. "You almost put that third-down offense out there."
Do we need to remind you that Greene has been mostly useless so far this year? No, probably not. He's averaging just 2.8 yards per carry on the season. Powell has gained a less-disastrous 3.8, though it's not uncommon for third down backs to out-perform starters on a per-carry basis. (In fantasy we call this "The Jerious Norwood Principle.") In any case, the Texans are the only team in the league that hasn't allowed a rushing TD in 2012, so you really shouldn't touch either back in Week 5. We'll revisit that backfield the following week, when New York hosts Indianapolis.
The Jets are actually in a first place tie in the AFC East at the moment, although they have the division's worst point differential (-28). This team is now without Holmes and Darrelle Revis, which leaves little obvious cause for optimism. Still, if you're somehow able to spread a little green sunshine, let's see it in comments, after Eddie George kicks around Sanchez for a few minutes...