Sunday, May 20, 2012
Sunday notes: The Sanchez-Tebow myth
By Rich Cimini
Notes and observations on the Jets and the NFL:
1. MARKED MAN: This notion that the Jets are setting up Mark Sanchez to fail because they want Tim Tebow to be the starting quarterback is total bunk. (One talking head actually suggested "the fix is in.") To paraphrase Wes Welker, the Jets have 20 million reasons to root for Sanchez -- the $20.5 million he's guaranteed in 2012 and 2013. Like they say in the old mob movies, just follow the money. That's how it works in professional sports. Why would the Jets want Sanchez, the handpicked QB of Rex Ryan and Mike Tannenbaum, to crash and burn? Yeah, the coaches and players are talking up Tebow (Darrelle Revis was in full gush), but it's just hot air in May. Here's the thing about players: They'll back whichever QB gives them the best chance to win. Right now, that's Sanchez. The organization hopes it stays that way.
2. DECISIONS, DECISIONS: QBs coach Matt Cavanaugh, in an interview with the New York Daily News, said most of Sanchez's 18 interceptions last season resulted from poor decisions. No kidding. Check out this stat: Over the last three seasons, Sanchez has thrown 38 interceptions when facing four or fewer rushers, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The bloated total, tied with Drew Brees for most in the league, suggests that, yes, he makes bad decisions when opponents use a standard rush and drop at least seven into coverage. By the way, Brees has 62 more TD passes than Sanchez against such pressure.
3. RINGING THE BELL: The Jets envision newly-signed safety Yeremiah Bell as a starter, meaning a Bell-LaRon Landry safety tandem. Here's the concern with that pairing: Both players are new to Ryan's defensive system, which is mentally challenging for the safeties. You need a cerebral player back there to make calls, and you could have the blind leading the blind with Bell and Landry. That's why Jim Leonhard was always so valuable; he knew how to get everybody lined up.
4. RUN, JOEY, RUN: Joey Clinkscales decided to leave his post as the head of college scouting, in part, because he was frustrated he wasn't given a bigger say on draft picks, according to a league source. He let his contract expire and took a job as the Raiders' director of player personnel -- maybe not a lateral move, but not a significant advancement, either. I hear the Jets, perhaps trying to convince him to stay, gave him a bigger say in the recent draft. Obviously, that didn't do the trick.
5. THE NEW GUY: The Jets hired Midwest scout Jeff Bauer to replace Clinkscales. Interesting background: He was a high-school coach in the Kansas City area and his backup QB was Mike Bradway, son of then-Chiefs executive Terry Bradway, according to the Des Moines Register. Bauer and the elder Bradway became friendly. A short time later, in 2001, Bradway was hired as the Jets' GM and he wound up hiring Bauer as the Midwest scout. Bradway remains with the Jets as a senior personnel executive. Bauer's glowing scouting report on RB Shonn Greene was one of the reasons why they drafted him in 2009.
6. MY TURN: I see that former Jets punter Steve Weatherford called me out on Twitter, claiming it was out of context to say he "ripped" Sanchez. I like Weatherford -- I wrote a glowing profile of him a few days before the Giants' Super Bowl win -- but this is a classic case of an athlete making a stink about the headline instead of owning up to his quotes below the headline. There's no doubt that Weatherford was critical of Sanchez's maturity level. That's the real story, not the headline.
7. MARSHALL PLAN: Because of Tony Sparano's background with the Dolphins, the Jets have been watching some Miami tape in an effort to learn his system. Rookie wide receiver Stephen Hill has spent a lot of time studying ex-Dolphin Brandon Marshall, another big-bodied wideout. Hopefully, Hill doesn't try to emulate Marshall's lack of balance along the sideline.
8. ROGER THAT: I'm dating myself here, but offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo's effusive defense of right tackle Wayne Hunter reminded of a long-ago quote from a long-forgotten Jets assistant. If you didn't catch it, DeGuglielmo said of Hunter, "Until they tell me otherwise, until they ship him out of this building or until they shoot me dead in my office, that sonofagun is going to be the starting right tackle." Back in '87 or '88, running backs coach Bobby Hammond was peppered with questions about the struggling Roger Vick, a No. 1 pick in '87. Hammond got fired up and said he'd "go to my grave" believing Vick would be a top back. That was a swing and a big miss; we're talking a Dave Kingman miss.
9. THE POWER OF BILL: Welker wouldn't make a good agent. He told reporters his contract negotiations have "actually gotten worse," and suddenly there's a story in the Boston Globe saying those comments weren't well-received in the Belichick bunker. So Welker backtracked, saying it was "probably a bad choice of words" and insisting he's happy with his franchise tag. At least he didn't say they were taken out of context; give him credit for that.
10. TALL TALE: 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh told a radio program that Michael Crabtree has "the best hands I've ever seen on a wide receiver." Wow, and they say Rex Ryan is prone to hyperbole.