Sunday notes: Forecasting Mark's market

October, 13, 2013
10/13/13
6:00
AM ET
It's Week 6 already. The season is flying by -- unless you're the New York Giants:

1. Sanchez's next home: I think Mark Sanchez would've considered postponing shoulder surgery until after the season if his future with the New York Jets was rock solid, but he couldn't get that commitment from them. He knows he'll be looking for a new team in the offseason and his shoulder needs to be healed by then. If they can't trade him, the Jets will release him before a $2 million roster bonus is due in March. He'll be only 27, a onetime franchise quarterback jumping into the annual game of musical chairs.

At best, Sanchez will get a chance to compete for a starting job, according to a league personnel executive. Realistically, he'll be a backup somewhere, earning about $3 million to $4 million per year -- the going rate for experienced non-starters. His job prospects will be hurt by a strong quarterback draft. There could be a couple of big names in free agency as well.

"On paper, [Jay] Cutler will be the best available, but there's no way he gets out [of Chicago]," said the executive, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "[Michael] Vick could be out there and now, potentially, Matt Schaub, if that goes south. It's supply and demand. I could see Sanchez being in a position for a 'compete for' starter's job, a la Chad Henne. But the team that needs a quarterback won't be a good team. He needs a run game and a defense. How many bad teams needing a quarterback have a run game and a good defense?"

Sanchez has coaching connections with the St. Louis Rams (Brian Schottenheimer), Chicago Bears (Matt Cavanaugh) and Dallas Cowboys (Bill Callahan). My hunch is that he reunites with his former college coach, Pete Carroll, backing up Russell Wilson for a year with the Seattle Seahawks. He could use a year in a comfort zone after five years of the New York madness.

[+] EnlargeRex Ryan
Brad Penner/USA TODAY SportsJets coach Rex Ryan hasn't been shy about tossing his challenge flag this season.
2. Red-flagging the red flag: All things considered, Rex Ryan is doing a terrific job, but he has yet to master the whole replay-challenge thing. He has thrown more red flags than any coach in the league (seven) this season, according to the NFL, but only two of his challenges were overturned. That's five wasted timeouts and a 28.6-percent success rate -- not good. In fact, the league average is 38.4 percent.

3. Spicoli surfs to South Beach: The Jets absolutely wanted to re-sign former WR Ryan Spadola, whom they released last Saturday. In fact, a member of the organization was in touch with the Spadola camp throughout the Monday night game in Atlanta, trying to sell Spadola on returning as a member of the practice squad. On Tuesday, Spadola signed with the Miami Dolphins' practice squad.

No one knows if Spadola, who signed with the Jets as an undrafted rookie, will amount to anything in the NFL, but they won't get a chance to develop him because they got too cute with their roster tinkering. He was their best receiver in the preseason. He also had the best nickname -- Spicoli, the Sean Penn character in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High." They dumped him in favor of WR Michael Campbell, who was promoted from the practice squad. Part of the reason they favored Campbell over Spadola was special teams. Campbell ended up playing 11 snaps on special teams against the Falcons.

4. Nick the Kick: PK Nick Folk is off to a great start. So what else is new? This is the third straight year he has started out by making his first 11 field goal attempts. The question is, can he stay hot? In 2011 and 2012, he tailed off dramatically, going 8-for-14 and 10-for-16, respectively, after his perfect start. Something to watch.

5. The Black & Gold nightmare: Every time the Jets face the Pittsburgh Steelers, as they do Sunday, it conjures up memories of the 2010 AFC Championship Game. It was just 33 months ago, but the Jets have only 11 holdovers from that season (including Sanchez, who is on injured reserve). That's what you call a serious amount of turnover. As for the Steelers, they still have 21 holdovers (including two IR players). You can bet that number will drop significantly, as they appear to be headed toward a rebuilding phase.

6. J-Co's back: Sunday marks the first return to MetLife Stadium for former Jets WR Jerricho Cotchery, who was released (his request) before the 2011 season. Looking back, he has wistful feelings about the 2010 AFC title game.

"I thought it was our year at the time," he said this week. "Going to the AFC Championship Game the year before, and being right back in the same situation and conquering or slaying the beast, if you will, beating Peyton Manning, who knocked us out the first year and coming back in and whooping up on the Patriots. ... I just felt like it was our year. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. That’s the only thing I could think about. It was a blast to be able to play on that type of team. Those memories last forever. There were a lot of guys who cared for each other on that team. You always remember that."

7. Battle of the defensive masterminds: Back in the days of Brash Rex, Ryan once said of himself, "I look at myself as the best defensive coach in football. That's saying something because Dick LeBeau is pretty darn good." He made that comment in 2012. Ryan and LeBeau will be on opposite ends of the field Sunday.

Through five weeks, Ryan's defense has outperformed LeBeau's defense, but LeBeau's unit over the years has destroyed rookie quarterbacks. Since LeBeau returned to the Steelers in 2004, they're 15-2 against rookie starters, with a 60.1 passer rating. Hear that, Geno?

"Rex Ryan is no Dick LeBeau," Steelers injured LB Larry Foote said this week on a Pittsburgh radio station.

8. The Geno Meter: Geno Smith was terrific against the Falcons, but can we wait until he wins two in a row before we anoint him? The same goes for the entire team.

9. Meet 'Baby Gronk': With Kellen Winslow serving a suspension, TE Zach Sudfeld, acquired nine days ago on waivers from the New England Patriots, is expected to make his Jets debut. He's an interesting project. Nicknamed "Baby Gronk" because of his 6-foot-7 frame, he made the Patriots roster as an undrafted rookie out of Nevada. He impressed scouts in the preseason but evidently didn't progress as quickly as the Patriots had hoped.

"He was a medical wreck coming out of college, but he's a good developmental type," one AFC scout said. "He played much better in the preseason than he did in his regular-season exposure in New England."

In fact, Sudfeld had six surgeries in college, including his shoulder, leg, knee and wrist.

10. Very superstitious: Bud Light conducted a fan superstition survey over the summer, polling 10,000 adult fans across the country. It determined that Jets fans are most likely to sit in the same lucky seat every game. Is it superstition or something else? Maybe they're just conditioned by the personal seat license culture that every seat cost too much to abandon.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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