Why Won’t Rex Ryan Criticize Mark Sanchez?
By Alan Schechter
Nov. 22, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan shakes hands with quarterback Mark Sanchez (6) before the game against the New England Patriots on Thanksgiving at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE
It is not atypical by any means for a head coach to have a special relationship with their quarterback. We see it all the time, Sean Payton and Drew Brees, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, Tony Dungy and Peyton Manning just to name a few, as well as in the past, with guys like Don Shula and Joe Montana, and Bill Walsh and Joe Montana. The quarterback embodies the coach’s vision on the football field, so naturally the relationship is going to be close. That gets magnified when the coach is in their first head coaching job and drafts their quarterback, like John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco.
So, it is no surprise that Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez have a close relationship. Heck, he did take Rex to back to back AFC championships in their first two seasons together. But, the last two seasons have not been as kind, like we have all seen. No matter what the reason, the external factors, or your feelings about this quarterback, the fact is that he has regressed. He consistently makes horrible decisions at important times. What is most frustrating is the fact that when he is making GOOD decisions, he can make all of the throws that anyone can make. But for some reason, Rex has a difficult time talking about Mark Sanchez’s faults. Take a look at his answer when asked what Mark Sanchez can improve on:
I think you’d like to see strides by every player. Specifically for him, it falls more on the unit. More in particular, you want to see the unit improve. To say well he needs to throw more completions to this guy or that guy, I don’t really know. I just know we have to get better. Collectively as a unit, you have to try and improve some things. Is that quarterback rating? I think our biggest thing that we need to do offensively is protect the football. I think there are other things we’re making strides in, but obviously, we have to protect the football. (When) you turn it over five times, you’re not going to beat anybody. That’s clearly something that we’ve talked about. We’ve put together videos of how to protect the football. We have clips of every single player we have on how to hold (the football), what the opponent is seeing, everything. You name it. We’re trying to find answers and solutions to it.
Nov 22, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez (6) reacts and gets up from the turf after being hit during the second half on Thanksgiving against the New England Patriots at Metlife Stadium. Patriots defeated the Jets 49-19. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-US PRESSWIRE
See what I mean? The question on the previous page did not even ask Rex to call Mark out, but to simply talk about what Mark can improve on, which is a very reasonable question to ask. Yet, Rex dodges it, talking about what the offense can improve on. He should be able to talk about what his quarterback can get better at. He’s made comments about other players before, remember how he called out Jeremy Kerley? He’s done it, but he won’t just talk about how his quarterback can get better. A member of the media picked up on this, and asked him if he is hesitant to point out Mark’s problems. Here is what he had to say:
I think when you look at it, there are things that all of us can improve, and to saddle, to put that blame on one person, I don’t think that’s appropriate. I think, if anything, that would be it’s more directed at me than it is anybody else. I have to fix that myself. How am I as a coach, I have to get better and get this team to where we don’t turn the ball over, so I focus on those areas. But as a team we have to get better. You don’t just put that on one individual. If that was the answer, is it’s just one guy, then that’s easy – but it’s not. We have to protect the football as a football team.
In this case, he wasn’t even asked what Mark’s problems are, he was simply asked if he was hesitant to point them out, and Rex deflects that one too. He just won’t talk about Mark in a negative light, and this is where fans get crazy.
Rex is loyal to a fault, and that comes into play here. That is why he sticks with aging guys on defense, like Bart Scott. Bart was a mainstay of his defense in Baltimore, and he came right over with him to New York. Bart has always been Rex’s guy, and Rex is loyal to his guys. Bart stays in there and starts, even though he clearly can’t stay with anyone in the passing game anymore, see the Vereen 83 yard touchdown as an example. Calvin Pace is another example of a guy that Rex is comfortable with, therefore loyal to, even though he doesn’t have a lot left.
Same thing here with Mark. Rex just won’t say a negative word about him, not a one. He simply parrots his “Mark gives us the best chance to win” line, without even giving anyone a reason for it. It might silence at least some of the writers, if he would simply give a reason for that statement. But no. It’s strange, he won’t even identify a place that Mark needs to improve at, and that drives everyone nuts. Rex won’t criticize Mark because he is far too loyal of a guy, and it could end up being his undoing here.