We all know what this is all about. We can make up a name for it, “QB Gate”, “The Decision”, “The Rex Ryan Decision”, whatever you like. After Mark Sanchez got hurt last night, Rex Ryan was destined to come under fire for bringing Mark into the game and using him late in the fourth quarter.
Some have speculated if this was part of a conspiracy to get Mark injured and give the job to Geno Smith. Why would Rex do this? What could he have been thinking? As far as the conspiracy goes, if anyone was going to say it was a conspiracy against Mark, it would be me, right? But I am not going to say that today. There is no way it was a conspiracy to get the quarterback injured.
Don’t get me wrong, it was a mistake. But it wasn’t a conspiracy.
First of all, if Rex was watching the game, it was obvious that Mark had to be the guy to start week one. Even if you hate Mark Sanchez and are all about Geno Smith, you had to see that he isn’t ready to lead an NFL team. Not yet. He will be eventually, but last night’s performance showed the world that he is not ready yet. Mark had all but won the job by default. Rex would not take part in a conspiracy to get his starting quarterback injured.
Secondly, Rex would also not deliberately set up a situation where he could go into the season without a veteran quarterback. Even if you want to start the rookie, you need a veteran sitting behind him if necessary.
Furthermore, it’s not like Mark playing last night was a surprise. All week-long, Rex was saying that Sanchez was going to play, he just didn’t know at what point of the game he was going to play. So, it is no surprise that Mark did enter the football game.
The mistake was the timing. Rex’s answer that they were trying to win the game is very curious. No preseason game should ever be deemed more important than getting the players through it healthy. They needed to have the ability to “flip the script”. Yes, they said Mark was going to play. But, by the time it got late in the fourth quarter, you need to abandon that script and let either Matt Simms or Greg McElroy play.
Why? First of all, we know what we are getting out of Mark Sanchez. Nothing about his play last night was going to change anyone’s opinion of him. By the time late in the game arrived, change the plan, use the guys we need to see more of. Secondly, when you get to that point in a preseason game, you are seeing guys that are bringing everything they have to make a roster.
These players in the game were going to come after Mark Sanchez something fierce. They are fighting for their football lives. When you have a guy that you already know his ability, Rex should have thought ahead a bit and realized that this could be potentially putting Mark in harm’s way.
Rex would never deliberately set someone up for injury. But, he needs to think ahead. He needs to anticipate the potentially dangerous situation and change the plan.