Ex-Jet Keyshawn Johnson went on quite a rant during an interview with ESPN New York on Thursday when asked about his feelings on the New York Jets quarterback battle. Before weighing in on Johnson’s comments, let’s take a look at what the former Jet had to say on the subject:
“Geno [Smith] will add another dimension of attitude to the team,” Johnson said in a phone interview Thursday with ESPNNewYork.com. “The players are probably more receptive to him than Mark. I would think the players like him more than Mark. They’ve been around Mark and they’re tired of Mark’s [crap]. That’s how players think. Geno Smith is the new wave. He’s hip, he’s cool. Mark is in a tough spot.”
“You weren’t getting a can’t-miss prospect,” Johnson said. “You reached to get him. You drafted a quarterback for the future and to appease the fans after Brett Favre. I think that was a bit of a mistake because he wasn’t ready to be taken as high as he was taken. Because when you take a guy that high, you expect certain production for him. When you don’t have that certain production, that draft pick looks in question and now he becomes scrutinized heavily.
“What happens is, the guy gets his confidence shaken and he’s not a strong enough guy to be able handle that pressure you guys put on him,” Johnson continued. “He doesn’t fully understand New York.”
Johnson went on to say:
“He was just OK in college. He wasn’t a home-run hitter. Then you put him in New York; that’s one of the worst things you could’ve done. Had you put him in Green Bay and let him sit like Aaron Rodgers for several years, maybe he could’ve ended up like Rodgers. He was thrown into the fire right away and made two playoff appearances, and now he feels like, ‘I’m the s—, nobody can tell me anything.’ They started losing and his confidence was shaken, and then he has [Tim] Tebow hovering over his shoulder.
“Now they draft Geno Smith after paying [Sanchez] a bunch of money. I get it, Geno Smith in the second round, he’s very talented. But I don’t know if they’ve put Mark in the best situations throughout his career. [In 2009], with that defense and that running game, they could’ve gone to the playoffs with Mark Brunell at quarterback. They got to the championship games running the ball all day and playing defense.
“I would’ve rather had [Sanchez] on the bench and signed a hold-the-fort guy, a Vinny Testaverde type to start. If you had that, there would’ve been a better chance of him turning out like Rodgers. Think about it: He was a junior with 16 starts in college and he became a starter in the NFL. That’s unheard of.”
I’ve heard a lot of Jets fans over the past 24 hours ripping Johnson for him comments, but fans are fans for a reason, and whether they like it or not Johnson is 100% correct in his assessment of the situation.
While most Jets fans are also counting the days until they no longer have to watch Sanchez take snaps for Gang Green, some still have trouble accepting the fact that the Jets run to consecutive AFC championship games had little to do with Sanchez, and everything to do with a defense that was playing at an incredibly high level during the two year run.
While I’m not sure I agree with Keyshawn in regards to Mark Brunell being able to take the Jets as far as Sanchez did, I do believe that the sucess of the team during those years was due in large part to ex-Jets offenisve coordinator Brian Schottenheimer understanding that Sanchez had to play in a very structured system that limited his mistakes. Much like the strategy we saw 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh employ with Alex Smith over the past two seasons, that is before the former number 1 overall pick lost his starting spot to Colin Kapernick.
Since Schottenheimer left the Jets, and the “training wheels” were taken off of Sanchez, we have seen a steep decline, which in my opinion shows that Sanchez was never capable of effectively running a top flight NFL offense.
This is not to suggest that Mark Sanchez is incapable of winning games in the NFL, but I am saying that Sanchez will never be a part of a successful NFL team in which he is the focal point.
The good news for Jets fans is that the Mark Sanchez experiment is coming to end, whether its in week one or week five it doesn’t really matter, because there is not a single scenario that exists that would convince me that Mark Sanchez is the quarterback of this team come week 16.
What is important for the Jets is that they finally get it right. And getting it right means that the ONLY thing that should matter this season is figuring out whether or not Geno Smith can play, because if he cannot the Jets should have a very strong QB class to choose from come next years NFL Draft.