Cimini: 13 days that changed the Jets

October, 14, 2012
10/14/12
5:00
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A look at the Jets and around the NFL:

1. Stanton's 'homecoming' day: Former Jets backup QB Drew Stanton (the backup for one week) returns to MetLife Stadium on Sunday with the Colts, reminding us of one of the craziest chapters in Jets history. Stanton added to the intrigue this week with comments he made to Newsday about his brief stay, once again shining a light on a 13-day period that could ultimately determine the fate of the current administration. From March 9 to March 21, they had more waffles than IHOP. Let's review:

March 9 -- A few hours after learning that Peyton Manning had zero interest in them, the Jets announced a three-year, $40.5 million contract extension for Sanchez. In reality, all the new deal did was provide a guarantee for 2013 ($8.25 million). GM Mike Tannenbaum: "We're excited and encouraged by the trajectory of Mark's career."

March 16 -- The Jets made Stanton their No. 2 QB, signing him to a one-year contract. Reflecting on his decision, Stanton told Newsday, "Had Sanchez struggled, they said I'd have a chance to play. So there was no better opportunity than that, and I was excited about it." It was a curious promise by the Jets, considering they had just re-upped with Sanchez. On Friday, Rex Ryan said he had no recollection of that conversation.

March 21 -- The Jets traded for Tim Tebow, the ultimate sucker-punch for Sanchez. Clearly, the idea came out of the blue -- or else they wouldn't have signed Stanton.

Now here we are, five weeks into the season, wondering about Sanchez's job security. Is anyone surprised?

2. Stanton postscript: Stanton still is counting $500,000 on the Jets' salary cap. They traded him to the Colts two days after the Tebow trade, but he got to keep his signing bonus. The Jets received a sixth-round pick from the Colts, using it to select S Josh Bush, who played on defense for the first time last week. Bush will see more snaps Sunday because of the injury to Eric Smith (knee).

3. Rainy-day money: Eyebrows were raised when the Jets went into the season with $8.1 million in cap space. Tannenbaum always leaves "fudge money," as he calls it. Good thing. Because of injuries, they had to dole out $2.9 million in salaries for CB Aaron Berry ($465,000), RB Jonathan Grimes ($390,000), FB Lex Hilliard ($615,000), WR Jason Hill ($700,000) and DT Daniel Muir ($700,000). Remember, players on injured reserve still get paid and still count tioward the cap. CB Darrelle Revis and WR Santonio Holmes are eating up $20.7 million in cap space.

4. Eagle-eye Tebow: There was momentary panic on the Jets' sideline during Monday night's loss to the Texans. When Sanchez came over during a timeout, it was noticed that the play sheet on his wristband was gone. Tebow spotted it on the field and sprinted to it, retrieving it for Sanchez. Add "play-sheet protector" to Tebow's list of jobs.

5. Ball insecurity: Here's a rather remarkable stat. The Jets have committed a turnover in 16 consecutive games, their longest streak since a 20-game spell in 1999/2000. It's hard to win football games when you're giving it away that much.

6. Tipsy: Despite five tipped passes in the last two games, including two that were intercepted, Sanchez isn't doing anything wrong, according to OC Tony Sparano. He has studied Sanchez from the end-zone camera angle, determining "he’s really done a good job of moving in the pocket and trying to find different windows to throw the ball (into)," Sparano said. I still think the QB has to take some blame on tipped passes. If a player gets his shot blocked in basketball, who gets the blame? The shooter.

7. Put a sock in it: To me, this is the irony of all ironies: Formerly mild-mannered owner Woody Johnson has made more headline-grabbing statements than Ryan. Johnson's "two more years of Tebow" comment put a lot of folks in an awkward position -- namely Tebow, Sanchez and Ryan.

8. A very Brady (speedy) offense: The Jets' defense had better get plenty of rest over the next few days, because they face the Patriots' up-tempo, no-huddle offense next Sunday in Foxborough. They play at such a breakneck pace that it negates the opponents' ability to substitute. As noted by Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com, Broncos stud LB Von Miller had to spend 29 straight plays on the bench in last week's game.

9. Just wing it, baby: Remember the days when the Raiders scared opponents with their vertical passing game? Those days are long gone. Carson Palmer has completed only one of 14 passes on throws more than 20 yards downfield, the worst percentage in the league, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

10. Say, what? The Bountygate players want commissioner Roger Goodell to remove himself from the case because they claim he can't be impartial. If the players have a beef, it should be with the NFL Players' Association. It gave Goodell the power of judge and jury by collectively bargaining it into the CBA.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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