If you stayed up late to watch the entire Jets-Titans game on Monday night, you’re probably not too happy with yourself right now. If you’re anything like me, the contest left you stuck at work, sleep-deprived and trying to get the memory of a game that was uglier than Larry King in high definition out of your brain. In case you missed it, here’s how hideous Tennessee’s 14-10 victory was; Titans’ quarterback Jake Locker completed only 13-of-22 passes for 149 yards and no touchdowns, yet he was the best signal caller on the field, and it was not even close.
Mark Sanchez managed to turn in what was probably the second-worst performance by a quarterback in the NFL this season. The fourth-year pro went 13-for-28 for 131 yards, one touchdown and four crippling interceptions. He averaged a measly 4.7 yards per pass attempt. And honestly, even those disgusting statistics do not do justice to just how bad he was.
Ironically however, if you watched ESPN’s game broadcast or the network’s postgame coverage, you would have thought Sanchez’s tepid performance was almost anyone’s fault but his own.
Play-by-play announcer Mike Tirico spent the entire evening questioning New York’s play-calling. Analyst Jon Gruden, who normally seems like he’d rather shave off his own eyebrows rather than criticize anyone, went after Jets offensive coordinator Tony Sparano early and often. His best line was; “I’m not saying this offense doesn’t fit Mark Sanchez, but every time you look on the Jets sideline it looks like they’re solving some sort of a calculus problem.” A clever joke, but unfair to Sparano, who was not the guy throwing five-yard check downs at the feet of his uncovered running backs all night.
Studio analyst Trent Dilfer took the excuse-making a step further during the postgame show, which felt more like a postmortem breakdown by the way. The former Super Bowl-winning quarterback began his dissection of the game by comparing the Jets’ loss to football justice. His point was a good one, New York does not deserve to be a playoff team, so their getting eliminated on Monday was a service to everyone.
Then he began to explain why he thought the Jets were such a mess and his number one reason was the fact that New York brought Tim Tebow to town this summer, which according to Dilfer, took away from their ability to develop Sanchez.
Sanchez is not a rookie. He has spent four years with the Jets, and has gotten a little worse each season. How did Tebow’s presence stunt his growth in any way, shape or form? The simple answer is, it didn’t. So why would a smart analysts like Dilfer mouth such nonsense?
I have no idea whatsoever.
ESPN decides to give certain athletes protection from their shortcomings, while hammering others unabashedly. Ask any Jets fan and they will tell you that Sanchez may not be the route of all New York’s problems, but he certainly is a huge portion of the equation that has led to failure.
In other words, Bristol needs to stop protecting him. He stinks. End of story. Fifty turnovers over the last two seasons has proven it beyond reasonable doubt. Why is ESPN the only one still making excuses for him?