Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 12/18/12
They say breaking up is hard to do, something which any number of ex-spouses can attest to. But sometimes it’s just the best situation for a failing relationship, which appears to be the best characterization for the Jets’ current quarterback situation. Mark Sanchez‘s time under center in New York has been nothing short of enigmatic. Two AFC championship game appearances highlighted the first two years of his young, and seemingly budding, career. A pair of treacherous seasons have followed, though, all but erasing those treasured memories and almost any feelings of good will from the Jets’ faithful toward their quarterback. Mired in the midst of another failed season, Sanchez’s run as the Jets’ starting quarterback has likely hit a dead end with no sign of escape in sight. Not much had gone right for Sanchez so far in 2012, completing just 55 percent of his passes, turning the ball over an NFL-leading 25 times and even being benched in favor of third-stringer Greg McElroy in the middle of a comeback win. Things had clearly gotten bad for Sanchez in New York, but Monday night’s five-turnover travesty only served to confirm the rumblings which had been floating throughout the New York sports radio airwaves for months. Sanchez is not the answer at quarterback, and the Jets need to move on. Whether the answer lays within the organization already, given the presence of fellow enigma Tim Tebow and the former seventh-round pick McElroy, or outside the confines of Florham Park, N.J., the Jets need to make a change. But what options really lay ahead for the Jets? Sanchez is still guaranteed $8 million for the 2013 season, thanks to the genius contract extension (likely soon to be former) general manager Mike Tannenbaum handed him last offseason. So, barring any firesale-type trade, they’re stuck with Sanchez for at least one more year, even if as only a backup. That doesn’t mean other options don’t exist. The first name that comes to mind would be Alex Smith. After finally breaking out with an impressive season in 2011, Smith began 2012 on a hot streak even leading the NFL in completion percentage. But Colin Kaepernick is the man in San Francisco now, and Smith should be a hot commodity on the market after this season. Along the same lines, Matt Flynn was expected to be the answer in Seattle at season’s start, signing a three-year, $26 million deal there in the offseason. However, Russell Wilson has emerged as one of the better young quarterbacks in football, and Flynn’s hefty salary no longer has a place in the Seahawks’ future plans. So, with a great arm and tremendous talent, Flynn could be another hot option for the Jets. Michael Vick, who’s fallen out favor in Philadelphia, Matt Moore, who saw his starting job usurped in Miami, and maybe even Joe Flacco, who still hasn’t worked out a deal in Baltimore, could all be available as well. But all three seem like less likely options in New York. Then, of course, there are the in-house options. Tebow and McElroy are already on board and should deserve at least a look before this season is through. McElroy seems like the better option at this point, given his brief but effective showing in a comeback win over the Cardinals. As for Tebow, his elongated throwing motion and inability to read defenses continue to raise concerns over his viability as a legitimate starter.  That comes even after a playoff campaign last season, making him a less likely choice for Rex Ryan or whoever happens to be coaching the Jets next season. Whichever direction the Jets decide to go in, there is only one thing that should be of absolute certainty: someone, anyone but Mark Sanchez needs be the Jets’ starting quarterback in 2013. Some wholesale changes need to be made, and quarterback needs to be the No. 1 priority on the Jets’ offseason shopping list. Have a question for Luke Hughes? Send it to him via Twitter at @LukeFHughes or send it here.
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