Get Peyton Manning? Repeat the Favre Farce?


You know how you can tell when sports rumors are bullshit? You hear them when the season is over. Now, with the Giants stealing all the thunder as they face off against Green Bay in the second round of the playoffs, the Jets’ rumor mill is desperate to find someone to blame for the team’s 8-8 season. And all of a sudden it’s…Mark Sanchez!

In a story in the Daily News this morning, the anonymous quotes are flying thick and fast. The headline says it all: “NY Jets players bash Mark Sanchez, say they want Peyton Manning and GM Mike Tannenbaum should trade young quarterback away.”

All of this talk, as you probably know, is the fallout from Peyton Manning’s missing the season, Indianapolis collapsing into the worst team in the league, and the likelihood that the Colts will now draft Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck with their number one draft pick. Would the Jets then make a deal for Manning — perhaps one that involves letting Sanchez go?

Manish Mehta quotes a “Jets source”: “Come on. That’s a no-brainer. If you have a chance to get a healthy 36-year old Peyton Manning and you don’t do it, then you’re stupid. If I could get a healthy 36-year old Peyton Manning, then hell yeah, I would trade Sanchez.”

According to several other Jets sources — all anonymous, of course — Sanchez has gotten “lazy,” some teammates question his “work ethic,” and “He just doesn’t have the mental toughness to be great…especially in New York.” Mehta also cites several players that they “see the organization babying him. They see him with a sense of entitlement. He’s being given all this and hasn’t done anything.”

The consensus among players the Daily News spoke to was that, “At the very least, the Jets must sign a legitimate veteran backup to push their young quarterback. ‘We have to bring in another quarterback that will make him work at practice … He’s lazy and content because he knows he’s not going to be benched.'”

Where to begin? Perhaps we should start with another quote buried deep in Mehta’s story that got ignored when they were writing headlines: “Some of Sanchez’s teammates thought it was unfair to pin a lost season all on their young quarterback. ‘Everybody got down on the quarterback,’ a Jets source says, ‘but they weren’t looking at the situations we were putting him in.'”

Although Sanchez won four road playoff games in two seasons, “some teammates remain critical, pointing to the successful rushing attack and defense as the key reasons for the Jets’ success in 2009 and 2010.”

Ah, yes. The successful rushing attack and defense — now we’re on to something. In 2009 the Jets led the entire league in rushing yards; in 2010 they slipped to 4th. This past season they dropped all the way to 11. Likewise with the defense: In 2009 the Jets gave up the fewest number of points in the NFL; by the next season that was down to 6th. This past season they were 20th.

Are we seeing a pattern here?

As these numbers declined, the number of times Sanchez has been sacked has, not surprisingly, increased: 15 in 2009, 17 in 2010 and a whopping 39 this year.

I wonder if some of the players the Daily News spoke to — those brave anonymous 300-pounders — played on either the offensive or defensive lines that were responsible for these increasingly horrendous team performances? Does anyone really believe that the down spiral in Sanchez’s performance isn’t related to the disintegrating running game, pass blocking, and defensive play? Does anyone think that Sanchez is being coddled because he doesn’t run the ball himself, block, or play defense?

And I really wonder if the Daily News spoke to offensive tackles D’Brickashaw Ferguson or Wayne Hunter, who between them allowed 19 sacks, the worst performance by a pair of OTs in the league? And if so, did they try to pin their awful pass blocking on Sanchez, too?

What is the point in this anonymous sniping and backbiting? And if this is all Sanchez’s fault, why didn’t we hear more of it during the season? Why is it only when all the returns are in that Sanchez is the goal?

I have a theory that I’m going to advance now: The Jets front office, one of the most incompetent and erratic in the NFL, is trying to do the same thing now that they did back in the winter of 2008, when they created a scenario by which the only redemption for the team was another aging Super Bowl-winning quarterback, Brett Favre. The scenario is as ridiculous now as it was then: If the Jets have a lousy running game, terrible blocking, and a defense in shambles, how is a 36-year-old quarterback who sat out a whole season with a neck injury going to turn things around? For that matter, wouldn’t Manning know he would be risking his neck — literally — by coming to New York and playing for this shambles of an organization?

But Peyton Manning in green and white would mean millions to the Jets in found money, just as Favre’s acquisition a few years ago did. After the press gets done with the “Two Mannings in New York” theme, we would see tons of jerseys, sweatshirts, caps, pennants — anything they could slap Peyton’s name and homely, All-American visage on. Never mind that everyone knows having Manning on the roster wouldn’t address any of the Jets’ real problems, and that Peyton would be lucky to survive three games.

Never mind, too, that scarcely anyone in the New York press corps is remembering that we’re being set up to repeat the Favre farce.

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