Commentary

It's time for Mark Sanchez to go

The Jets' lousy QB should be tossed on the scrap heap along with his OC

Updated: January 2, 2012, 2:04 PM ET
By Stephen A. Smith | ESPNNewYork.com

After broken promises, misplaced bravado bordering on deception and a season culminating in the kind of embarrassment that gets folks fired, it is clear that Mark Sanchez has to go. That Brian Schottenheimer should exit with him. That the same should be considered with Santonio Holmes. And if Rex Ryan so much as utters a word of dissent, the New York Jets need to kick his butt out the door, too.

There is nothing else that should be said following the Jets' season-ending 19-17 loss to the Miami Dolphins. At least not before saying that much.

Sanchez was pathetic Sunday. That means Schottenheimer was pathetic, too. And the regression that has been witnessed time and time again throughout this horrendous, promises-unfulfilled season simply cannot be tolerated any longer.

It's one thing for New Yorkers to come to the realization that the latest Super Bowl guarantee from Ryan proved to be as meaningless as all the others. But to not even make the postseason is, quite honestly, as egregious as it gets. Couple all of that with a meltdown in the huddle -- with a captain, no less, in Santonio Holmes as the main culprit, quitting on his team in the waning minutes before being benched -- and the Jets should be thankful owner Woody Johnson provided them with a free flight home.

"Let me just say there were some guys in that huddle that we were unhappy with [Holmes'] demeanor," Jets running back, LaDainian Tomlinson revealed to reporters afterward about the Jets' $45 million wideout. "When you have a group of guys fighting their butts off and one guy, for whatever reason ... their demeanor's not with [the rest of the guys] ... you're going to get some guys to say something to him and tell him how they feel. That's what you got today.

"It's tough for guys to follow a captain that kind of behaves in that manner. The worst thing that can happen is when teammates start to question your passion. In that huddle, that's what you saw. Guys looked at [Holmes'] eyes and he didn't have fire in his eyes. Guys were turned off by that. It was definitely boiling at that point. Guys had had enough."

Let's be blunt here: Holmes acted like a petulant child. Someone completely unworthy of the faith the Jets have shown in him. That he had to be restrained by tight end Dustin Keller from going after Wayne Hunter in such a public forum, then acted like a straight-up punk by walking out of his postgame interview once the questions became too tough to stomach exposed him as mentally weak and unfit to be a captain.

But it doesn't gloss over the reality of what's really going on with the New York Jets. In fact, it highlights it.

That Ryan didn't even know why Holmes, taken out of the game by Schottenheimer because of his attitude, was not on the field in the last two minutes is something to be addressed at another time. For now, the players' timidity in speaking of Sanchez can't be ignored any longer.

I was told privately by a couple of Jets players just eight days earlier, following their loss to the Giants, that "we're only as good as our quarterback." So it's easy to surmise what we saw was Holmes' frustration having reached its boiling point. After he failed to catch a pass in a game for the first time in his 95-game career, coupled with unimaginable frustration from running routes, getting open and still watching Sanchez's flagrant incapability to get him or anyone else the ball with any degree of frequency, who can't understand why Holmes just couldn't hide his disgust any longer?

Holmes and everyone else have kept their mouths shut all season as Ryan has told one lie after another about Sanchez and Schottenheimer.

How good his quarterback and coordinator are. How much faith the team has in both of them. Such rhetoric has been echoed even as the public has grown ferociously skeptical about both, with players quietly feeling the same way.

Following Sanchez's 21-of-32, 207-yard passing performance with three interceptions, one must wonder how Ryan plans on covering for them both now.

It's time to start looking for a new quarterback. It means making sure that Schottenheimer is replaced immediately, as reportedly will happen -- despite Ryan's vehement denials to the contrary -- even if it means bringing Norv Turner or Josh McDaniels to the Big Apple.

For the Jets to truly begin moving forward, Ryan must understand the state of the Jets and how they're viewed from this moment. He must accept that how his team is viewed can't be about his beliefs or his confidence any longer. It has to be about the team's level of production.

The Jets stunk this season. Ryan's mouth only made matters worse.

"I believe in this team and I believe in my quarterback," Ryan continues to say. "I'll never apologize for that."

Perhaps if he did, that would be a good start.

Considering what we've witnessed this season, particularly in Sunday's season finale, Ryan certainly owes us an apology for something.

Sanchez? Schottenheimer? Holmes? Or Ryan's broken promises? Any kind of mea culpa will do.

So long as it's accompanied with much-needed changes in key positions, and just a moment of silence.

If failure breeds nothing else, it should at least breed that much.

Stephen A. Smith | email

ESPNNewYork.com columnist
Stephen A. Smith is a featured columnist for ESPNNewYork.com, a co-host on First Take" and a regular on "SportsCenter."

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