Yes, folks, you are reading that right. The New York Jets just might want to consider giving second-year quarterback and former seventh round pick Greg McElroy a shot at starting quarterback. The idea may sound a little crazy, but if you look at the evidence there is a method to the madness.
Take Friday night's preseason opener as Exhibit A. Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow combined to go 8-14 for 48 yards and one interception while leading the team to just one field goal, a 42-yard kick by Josh Brown. Greg McElroy did a little better hitting four of six passes for 49 yards while also leading the Jets to a field goal (a 38-yard one by Nick Folk).
Before you start laughing at--no, that is not my whole argument.
The Case Against Mark Sanchez
The Jets offense has been lackluster at best with Sanchez behind center. In three seasons his completion percentage has lingered around the low to mid 50s and he has thrown just four more TDs than INTs. His career QB rating is 73.2. In case you are wondering, that's not very good.
Sanchez fans will say that he's been growing, which he has since he has had plenty of room to improve. They'll also point out how he led the team to the AFC championship in his first two seasons as proof of his leadership skills.
What they will not mention is that the team had the No. 1 rushing game in '09 (with Thomas Jones and Shonn Greene toting the rock) and the No. 4 rushing attack in '10 (with LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene sharing time). They also had the No. 1 and No. 3 defense in those seasons. Incidentally, the passing game was 31st and 22nd.
When the Jets drafted him in 2008 they were in desperate need of a quarterback. Based off of Sanchez's sole season as the starter at USC he looked like a viable candidate. Leading a team to a 12-1 record and a No. 2 ranking in the USA Today Coaches Poll while throwing for more than 3200 yards, 34 TDs, and just 10 INTs is impressive.
However, success in college does not always translate to success in the pros. That is often the case when a player's success is as much a product of the players around him then his own play.
How About Tim Tebow?
The case against starting Tim Tebow is much easier to make since it has already been widely debated. While he does have a knack for winning unlike almost any other player in the NFL today, his style is not conducive to the way the game is going. Tebow is more of throwback player (field general/runner and then passer), and doesn't really fit the mold of what the modern day QB is supposed to be--a passer.
That's not to say that the team can't win with him; the offense would have to be tailored to him. That shouldn't be too hard for the Jets. There success in '09 and '10 was due to a dominating defense and a running game that featured two strong runners. Last season they only had one strong runner and the rushing game dropped down to 22nd.
Why not feature his talent for running? Atlanta had success with Michael Vick doing it before he went to prison. Randall Cunnigham was a good passer, but his running is what made him such a dangerous player. Steve Young was also a good passer, but his ability to gain ground on his own helped make him a threat. Steve McNair is another example.
Incidentally, Tebow's career QB rating is actually better than Sanchez's (75.1 to 73.2).
So why does that mean Greg McElroy deserves a shot?
Sanchez has not gotten the job done in three years. How much more time do you want to give the guy before you start considering better or at least other options?In McElroy they have a very intelligent player (43 on the Wonderlic; applied but was not named a Rhodes Scholar in college).
He was known as more of a field general in college, but was a capable passer as well completing 60.9 percent of his passes while leading the team to a national championship in 2008 (and 70.9 percent the following year).
Like with Sanchez and Tebow, college success does not always mean success in the NFL, but until McElroy gets a shot the Jets will not know what he's capable of. That is essentially what the preseason is for, but that would mean the team would have to take away time from the continued development of Mark Sanchez.
Perhaps, they should.