Mandatory minicamps are important for all 32 teams in the NFL. For some teams, it’s a chance for veterans and their respective coaching staff to get in sync while making decisions on the playbook , their packages, and strategies for the upcoming season. For other teams, it’s a chance to get a head start on who will start Week One at a position up for grabs. In our case, the position up for grabs is the most important one: the QB.
QBs can make or break a team’s season. That is why their battles stir up much controversy, debate, and are scrutinized by almost everyone. Over the course of the next few weeks, Into The Endzone will be giving you an analysis on all the QB battles in the league as of the 2012 season. Today will feature the QB battle at the Big Apple, in Jet Nation of course.
The Starter: Mark Sanchez
One would think that after three seasons in the NFL with a resumé that included two AFC Conference Championship appearances and over 9,000 yards, Mark Sanchez wouldn’t have his starting gig on the line. This was not the case after a disastrous 2011 campaign.
Following two straight seasons as the AFC’s second best team, New York Jets HC Rex Ryan named Sanchez team captain. Discontent spread throughout the locker room after a disastrous 2-3 start, especially since the team had strayed away from their philosophy to run the ball and had started to pass more frequently. The change in identity led to a struggle offense, and WRs Plaxico Burress, Santonio Holmes, and Derrick Mason reportedly questioning the direction the offense was headed. Another complaint was the number of passes thrown their way (Holmes and Mason each averaged 3 catches catches a game while Burress averaged 2.5). Locker room problems ensued, and the team missed the playoffs for the first time in the Rex Ryan era. Much of the criticism fell on Sanchez, as the team put their season on his shoulder.
Many felt that Sanchez’s previous role as a game manager was as far as he could go; Sanchez didn’t prove them wrong when he had difficulties throwing the ball efficiently throughout the season. Critics denounced Sanchez as an ineffective QB and was therefore expendable. After an offseason with teammates criticizing his work ethic and claiming he wouldn’t be able to improve, the team pursued QB Peyton Manning and traded for Denver QB Tim Tebow. Despite questions surrounding his job security, the organization eventually gave Sanchez a three-year contract extension with $20 million guaranteed.
The Challenger: Tim Tebow
While Sanchez struggled, Tim Tebow had mixed-results. Tebow had his fair share of supporters and critics. Most criticized the dual threat QB’s unorthodox quarterbacking skills, which had caused the Broncos to run an unconventional offense. Others praised him for his ability to come through in the clutch, claiming that the mere fact that he could guide his to team to a W was the most important factor in him being a good QB (he orchestrated five 4th quarter/overtime comebacks while also having six game-winning drives in his 11 regular season starts).
For the most part, Tebow quieted his critics in his playoff debut, completing 10 for 21 passes for 316 yards and 2 TDs. Tebow set a franchise playoff record for QB rating (125.6), and the NFL playoff record for yards per completion (31.6). Despite the impressive performance, the Denver Broncos weren’t afraid to pull the trigger and signed the highly sought after FA QB Peyton Manning. Once the deal was done, Tebow (and a 7th round pick) was given to the Jets for a 4th and 6th round pick.
The Jets have gone out on record saying that Tebow will be the backup. While normally I would believe that, the fact that we are discussing Tebow changes all that. Tebow has garnered fame from putting his religion first and discussing it every opportunity possible. While many applaud that and give him support, others have gotten sick of it and have criticized him more than he deserves at times (causing Tebow to have even more fame). The Tebow Mania has been brought to the Big Apple, where it will surely multiply the attention.
Everyone (except the diehard Tebow fans) knows that Sanchez is the better of the two as of now. Yet if Sanchez struggles, the fans will be calling for Tebow to start. This is a what have you done for me lately league. Sanchez has struggle; Tebow took his team to the playoffs. Even if Sanchez does decently, many people will still want Tebow out on the field. The Jets have tried to appease those fans by ensuring that Tebow will run the wildcat, making it even worse in my opinion. All in all, this QB battle has the most fanfare and will be lingering around for a long time.
This isn’t your typical QB battle; Sanchez is the starter as of now and Tebow won’t be taking it anywhere soon. The battle will mostly start around August, because that’s when the preseason starts. Play in the preseason will either quiet the Tebow supporters or increase the noise they generate. It’s unfortunate, but I feel that Sanchez’s job won’t be safe for a long time. The fact is that Sanchez needs to play consistently at a high level if he wants a chance to keep his job. That will keep the Tebow supporters at bay. If Sanchez does this over a long period of time, the job is his.
When I think look at the Jets schedule, I not too confident with Sanchez considering that he has to go up against the Steeler’s, 49er’s, and newly revamped Bill’s defense in the first part of the season. Add to the fact that they also have to play the Texans and Patriots and the beginning of the season doesn’t bode well for the Jets or Sanchez.
This season will test Sanchez’s toughness. There will be times this season were his play will be erratic and defenses will simply dominate. It’s how he rebounds that may save him. The great QBs maintain their composure despite fits defenses give them initially. Sanchez has shown many times in the past that he can do that. Now he has to use that calm demeanor in pressing situation on and off the field.
Sanchez is by far the better QB; he’s intelligent, can read the defense efficiently, can make all the throws, and has the arm strength that matches up to some of the best in today’s league. He also sets up quickly in the pocket, allowing him more time to look downfield. His delivery is smooth and the balls are quite catchable. Sanchez beats Tebow in all aspects of the position. I believe that the only way Sanchez loses is if he loses to himself. By that, I mean being mentally prepared and ready to deal with the media and fans that will undoubtedly be supporting Tebow. Sanchez can do it, and I believe he will. This is Shrederdude63 signing off.
That’s it for now. Do you guys agree? Disagree? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below. Want me to write about a specific QB Battle? Don’t hesitate to ask. Please rate the article and follow Shrederdude63 on Twitter here.