Published on: 25th August, 2013
by Scott Mandel
New York — Woody Johnson, the owner of the New York Jets has not distinguished himself as one of the smarter owners in the National Football League. That is a well-accepted fact. Wellington Mara, he ain’t. But, his decision to retain Rex Ryan as the Jets head coach while replacing Mike Tannenbaum as the general manager during the off-season with John Idsik goes beyond absurdity.
It’s especially absurd now, in light of Ryan’s decision to play his starting quarterback, Mark Sanchez last night in the fourth quarter of a meaningless exhibition game against the Giants with third and fourth string offensive linemen attempting to block in front of him. It’s a decision that just might make this upcoming season, already predicted as potentially disastrous, a complete embarrassment to the franchise, on the field, in the front office, and in the stands.
Forcing Idsik to put up with a head coach not of his choosing essentially makes Idsik’s role that of a junior general manager. Someone to watch over the salary cap issues and get Rex Ryan his coffee in the morning are the main descriptors of Idsik’s job, this year. But, with Ryan as the retained head coach from another regime, Idsik has no opportunity to put his imprint on the Jets.
Which takes us to last night’s exhibition game between the Jets and their intra-stadium rivals, the New York Giants.
Ryan started Geno Smith, Idsik’s first number one draft choice, at the quarterback position last night. The rookie, who had injured his ankle two weeks ago in his very first series against Jacksonville, was given three quarters of the game to prove he could run the Jets offense efficiently and take over the starting job from the incumbent of four years, Mark Sanchez, whose game and confidence has been regressing for two years.
Smith proved, with his three interceptions in the first half alone, that he was not ready for prime-time in the NFL. No shame there, most rookie quarterbacks not named Manning, Luck, Marino, or Russell Wilson need a year or two or more (how many years did Green Bay superstar Aaron Rodgers sit on the bench watching Brett Favre play?) to adjust to the professional game. It became even more clear how unprepared Smith was when, with the ball on the Jets’ three-yard line, he faded back into his own end zone to throw a pass and didn’t pay attention to his foot stepping out of the end zone. It gave the Giants a safety. Had this been a regular season game, Jets fans would have started to boo the kid off the field and call for Ryan’s head in the first half.
With everyone in the stadium fully aware the Jets starting QB to begin the season was going to be Mark Sanchez, Ryan committed the ultimate mistake by putting Sanchez in with 11 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. The Giants defensive line ran through the swiss-cheese offensive line of the Jets, who provided little opposition. Sanchez, playing the role of mop-up quarterback behind players who have zero chance to make the final roster, was hit often and hard on almost every play.
On Sanchez’ final play of the night, he was chased out of the pocket by a ferocious Giant pass rush, he rolled to his left and completed a bullet to a Jets receiver for a first down. Only problem was, Marvin Austin, a talented, 330-pound defensive tackle with the Giants who is fighting for his NFL life, unloaded on Sanchez with a clean hit, not one Jets blocker in his vicinity. Sanchez took the shot on his chest and throwing shoulder, not getting up for several seconds.
There was the starting quarterback of the Jets, lying prone on the MetLife Stadium turf, injured. How seriously injured is almost not the point. It’s the decision-making of the head coach, the judgment that led to his quarterback getting seriously injured, that is unacceptable.