MARK SANCHEZ CAN’T FIND END ZONE AS JETS LOCK UP WORST SEASON IN REX RYAN ERA.
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – Those who subscribed to the logic that Sunday’s regular season finale against the Buffalo Bills would be Mark Sanchez’s final “try out” to the organization — and potentially others — that he can be a starter in the NFL were disappointed as the clock stuck double zero.
The new Sanchez-led offense looked as stagnant as the old Sanchez-led offense with no play speaking louder than his pick-six to Bryan Scott in the first quarter.
Sanchez did nothing to ease the criticism. The 2009 first-round draft pick finished 17 of 25 for 205 yards with an interception — his 18th of the season — and a lost fumble. He also worked an offense that yet again lacked finish, settling for two field goals on three trips inside the Bills 20.
Down 9-7, the Bills went ahead for good when Ryan Fitzpatrick, who’s been linked as a possible replacement for Sanchez in 2013, dumped a short pass over the middle to Spiller as he split defenders and then outraced them into the end zone.
The Jets trailed 14-9 at the half despite gaining more yards than Buffalo (204-132), getting more first downs (13-4) and holding a whopping edge in time of possession (23:15-6:45) — pointing to the mistakes of Sanchez as game killers.
That was the recipe for disaster as the Jets failed to score an offensive touchdown for the fourth time this season — losing to the Bills (6-10) 28-9 on the road. The loss gave the Bills a tiebreaker in conference record, securing the Jets (6-10) last place in the AFC East for the first time since 2005 when the Brooks Bollinger-led team finished 4-12.
It was Sanchez’s first start in two weeks after he turned over the ball five times in a 14-10 loss at Tennessee. He got the start after third-stringer Greg McElroy complained of concussion-like symptoms on Thursday. On Wednesday he told reporters that he has “already learned valuable lessons” since being benched.
The lessons learned were not on display Sunday, as he did little to not only help his on future, but that of his first-year offensive coordinator Tony Sparano, who’s been rumored to be on the hot seat as well.
On a blistering cold afternoon in a nearly empty Ralph Wilson Stadium it was the imminent change that’s approaching next week — for both teams — that overshadowed the action on the field. Much like the Jets, the Bills could also be looking at a front office facelift after a team that failed to live up to their mega million expectations.
General manager Buddy Nix, head coach Chan Gailey and quarterback Fitzpatrick are all rumored to be on the chopping block as the off-season commences.
It’s the first losing season in the Rex Ryan regime — a group that will seemingly have a complete overhaul starting from the front office, to the coaching staff, to the player roster. With Ryan’s job appearing to be safe despite 34-30 record that’s seen the Jets go 14-18 over the last two seasons, his general manager Mike Tannenbaum will likely be the first to go. Sean Deegan via SI.com’s Tony Pauline confirmed Saturday that Tannenbaum will be gone as soon as Monday.
With longtime special teams coach Mike Westhoff retiring after 30 NFL seasons (12 with the Jets) and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine turning down a contract extension, the Jets may be looking for three coordinators and a general manager in the coming weeks.
That’s not even accounting for the 12 free agents this team has to decide on including the likes of Dustin Keller, Shonn Greene, Braylon Edwards, LaRon Landry, Mike DeVito and Yeremiah Bell. Throw in the Sanchez situation and Tim Tebow exorcism and the 2013 offseason should, at the very least, provide bigger fireworks than their 2012 season did.