Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 1/1/12
MIAMI GARDENS, Fl. Mark Sanchez, the New York Jets' third-year quarterback, stood and delivered for one final time Sunday. This was in the postgame news conference. And just as it happened minutes earlier on the field, Sanchez wasn't good enough. Actually, that's being kind. Sanchez was miserable in the Jets' 19-17 loss to the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium. He went 21-for-32 passing for 207 yards, three interceptions and two touchdowns. The Jets (8-8), who advanced to the AFC Championship game the previous two seasons, needed a victory Sunday to have a chance at a third consecutive playoff berth. In other words, Sanchez picked a bad time to be bad. "I've got to play better for us to win," he said. "I can't throw it to them three times." In the last three weeks Sanchez has thrown seven interceptions and five touchdowns. So, at this point, if you're a Jets' fan, you have to ask yourself whether Sanchez can ever be The Man. This year Sanchez could finish around 22nd in the 30-team NFL in quarterback rating. It would be his best finish ever. Last year he was 27th, and as a rookie he was 28th. Is this your long-term solution at quarterback? "I think he's the long-term solution," coach Rex Ryan said. "I don't think there's any doubt." Actually, there's been doubt, and more creeps in every week. Sanchez's interception at Miami's 9-yard line, which came with the Jets trailing, 16-10, with a little more than three minutes remaining, was the killer blow Sunday. Miami linebacker Marvin Mitchell stepped in front of a pass intended for running back Shonn Greene and returned it 55 yards. The Dolphins eventually kicked a field goal to take a 19-10 lead. But here's the thing: on the play before that interception Sanchez misfired on a pass to running back LaDainian Tomlinson in the end zone. Tomlinson was mismatched against Mitchell. The Jets were waiting for just such a chance. "It was a missed opportunity," Tomlinson said. "That's something we worked on all week." This is a good time to state the problems went way beyond Sanchez on this particular day. The Jets were griping with each other in the huddle late in the game, and most of the problems were because players felt wide receiver Santonio Holmes, a team captain, had, well, given up. The upheaval was so disruptive Holmes was taken out of the game at one point. His attitude was that much of a problem. The way Tomlinson tells the story, everyone in the huddle carried themselves as though they wanted to win except for Holmes, who finished with no receptions, and was only targeted once. "It's tough for guys to follow a captain that kind of behaves in that manner," Tomlinson said. "When you're a captain guys are looking at you and you've got to lead by example and you've got to play your tail off until the last play. And when that doesn't happen you're going to have guys look at you in a way captains shouldn't be looked at. You should always put yourself out there as a leader." Sanchez has tried to do that, but he can't get out of his own way. For example, Sanchez revealed all three of his interceptions two of which went to Miami Dolphins' defensive end Randy Starks were on checkdowns. Yes, checkdowns. They're supposed to be the safe passes, the ones you go to when your first options aren't available. The checkdowns were anything but safe on Sunday. Sanchez said he doesn't think his teammates have lost faith in him. "But that's something you'll have to ask them," he said. Sanchez isn't the Jets' No. 1 issue. Considering how they've won the last two years running the ball and stopping the run you could contend Sanchez is the No. 3 problem on the team. After all, New York never relied on Sanchez to win, they relied on him not to prevent them from winning. However, there are sometimes when you need your quarterback to give you that boost, to lift the team to that next level, and Sanchez hasn't done it. The Jets lost their final three games this season. Sanchez's ratings? He had a 67.8 in the 45-19 loss to Philadelphia, a 54.2 in a 29-14 loss to the Giants, and a 65.5 on Sunday. As a measure of comparison, Sanchez had a 75.3 rating last season when he finished 28th in the league. It's almost a certainty the Jets aren't going to get rid of Sanchez. They traded up to draft him No. 5 just three years ago. But something has to happen for the Jets at quarterback. They've lost two AFC title games and now they've missed a chance at the playoffs. The missed losses aren't solely Sanchez's fault, but as the quarterback, they're his responsibility. And so far he hasn't been good enough.
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