The rise and fall of Mark Sanchez
By Jesse Pantuosco, Fantasy Sports Writer
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - It's supposed to be the season of giving.
Perhaps Mark Sanchez is taking that adage a bit too literally.
The New York Jets quarterback did his best Kris Kringle impersonation by generously handing out four interceptions Monday night against the Tennessee Titans. It was a kind gesture but Sanchez's gifts certainly didn't benefit everyone. The four turnovers cost New York the game and it ended any chance the Jets had at making the playoffs.
New York's gift to Sanchez? A seat on the bench.
That's right. Greg McElroy, a second-year quarterback out of Alabama with seven career pass attempts, will be the team's starter this Sunday against San Diego.
Who knows, maybe Sanchez and Tim Tebow will use the time off to finish wrapping the rest of their presents.
It's been an ugly season for Sanchez but things haven't always been this glum in East Rutherford. Here's a look at some of the highs and lows from Sanchez's first four seasons with the Jets:
Jets at Texans, September 13, 2009: Though it wasn't as spectacular as some of the debuts we've seen in recent years (like Cam Newton's 400-yard day versus Arizona or Robert Griffin III's thrilling win over the heavily favored New Orleans Saints), Sanchez looked very solid in his first taste of NFL action. The 272 yards he racked up through the air ended up being a season-high. The win against Houston was also the beginning of a three-game winning streak for the Jets, which gave them their first 3-0 start since 2004.
Bills at Jets, October 18, 2009: Sanchez has had some pretty terrible outings throughout his career but this one may have been the worst. The rookie was picked off five times (career-high) and finished the afternoon with a miserable 8.3 quarterback rating (still the lowest of his career). Miraculously, the Jets managed to lose by only three in overtime.
Jets at Bengals, January 9, 2010: Despite showing erratic tendencies during the regular season (his 53.8 percent completion percentage was fourth-worst among NFL starters that season), Sanchez was deadly accurate in his postseason debut, torching the Bengals for 182 yards while completing 12-of-15 pass attempts. The 139.4 QB rating he posted is still the highest of his career. Sanchez and the Jets went on to beat San Diego in the next round before falling to Indianapolis in the AFC Championship.
Jets at Bills, October 3, 2010: This game marked the conclusion of an impressive three-game stretch for Sanchez. During the hot streak, Sanchez threw for eight touchdowns and 711 yards without giving away a single interception (an impressive accomplishment considering he had the second-most interceptions in the league a season earlier). Most people left early because of the rain and the lopsided score (the Jets clobbered Buffalo, 38-14) but I can proudly say I stayed until the very end.
Jets at Patriots, January 16, 2011: Just weeks after the Patriots destroyed the Jets for a 45-3 victory, Sanchez returned the favor by delivering three touchdown passes and 194 yards in front of a stunned crowd at chilly Gillette Stadium. The win was Sanchez's fourth in five postseason appearances and it propelled the underdog Jets to the AFC title game, where they would eventually fall 24-19 to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Jets at Dolphins, January 1, 2012: Needing a win to qualify for the postseason, Sanchez and the Jets couldn't have faced an easier opponent in the final game of the regular season. Surprisingly, the 5-10 Dolphins proved to be too much for Sanchez, who was picked off three times including twice with the game on the line in the fourth quarter. The 19-17 loss ended the Jets' season.
Bills at Jets, September 9, 2012: After failing to throw a touchdown during the preseason, some wondered if Sanchez was really the team's best option at quarterback. Sanchez hushed the critics by dismantling the Bills in the season opener, connecting on three touchdown passes for 266 yards. Tim Tebow, thought to be in competition with Sanchez for the starting job, appeared out of the backfield five times in the game without throwing a pass.
Patriots at Jets, November 22, 2012: The notorious "butt fumble game." Sanchez actually finished the game with over 300 yards passing but New England's 35- point explosion during the second quarter (helped by two Jets turnovers) put a bit of a damper on the evening. The 49-19 loss on Thanksgiving night might have been the most embarrassing loss of the Rex Ryan Era in New York.
Cardinals at Jets, December 2, 2012: Sanchez continued his downward spiral by getting intercepted on three of his first nine passes. Greg McElroy came in to replace Sanchez after the team opened the third quarter with a pair of three and outs. McElroy stayed in the game while Sanchez watched with a clipboard in hand as the Jets held on to win, 7-6.
Maybe wide receiver Santonio Holmes' injury is the reason Sanchez has struggled this year. Maybe he's been rattled by the threat of Tebow Mania looming in the distance. Whatever the reason, 2012 just wasn't his year.
With Sanchez set to make $8.25 million next season, it would be nearly impossible to trade him so it looks like the Jets are stuck with Sanchez for at least one more season.
But should he be the starter in 2013? The way McElroy plays over the team's next two games could go a long way in deciding Sanchez's fate for next season.
Maybe he'll work his way out of fantasy prison later on but for now, we're enforcing a strict no-Sanchez policy.
12/19 18:35:50 ET