After spiraling out of the playoffs with three straight losses to end the regular season, the Jets are starting to see the screws fall off.
Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reports that several of QB Mark Sanchez's teammates are sick of the organization babying him and would much rather see QB Peyton Manning under center at MetLife Stadium.
"Come on. That's a no-brainer," a Jets source told Mehta. "If you have a chance to get a healthy 36-year-old Peyton Manning and you don't do it, then you're stupid. If I could get a healthy 36-year-old Peyton Manning, then, hell yeah, I would trade Sanchez."
Manning could be expendable if the Colts take Andrew Luck with the No. 1 pick in the 2012 NFLdraft as expected.
Despite two AFC Championship game appearances in his first two seasons, Sanchez's performance has caused at least some of the current frustrations, as Sanchez balanced a career-high 26 touchdown passes against a career-high 26 turnovers. His eight lost fumbles in 2011 was twice his total from the previous two years combined. Nine of his turnovers came in the Jets' final three games of the season.
Yet, according to Mehta's article, the issues with Sanchez extended far beyond the playing field. Teammates questioned his work ethic and confidence, as well as his talent and ability to deliver a Super Bowl title.
"We have to bring in another quarterback that will make him work at practice," said one player. "He's lazy and content because he knows he's not going to be benched."
The criticism goes beyond unnamed sources. General manager Mike Tannenbaum said that Sanchez's "rate of growth isn't where it needs to be" to begin the new year, and head coach Rex Ryan cited the team's inability to stretch the field as one of its primary concerns all season. Sanchez completed a league-worst two passes of 40-plus yards this season.
Several players expressed resentment towards an organization that made Sanchez a team captain and promoted him as the face of the franchise.
"They don't want to be truthful with him," a prominent player was cited as saying in Mehta's article. "They treat him like a baby instead of a man. He goes in a hole when someone tells him the truth."
Sanchez literally went into a hole earlier this season, unfollowing every Jets beat writer on Twitter, presumably in an attempt to avoid reading their criticism.
Not all the blame can be pinned on Sanchez, however. The Jets' signalcaller was under durress all season, as he was sacked 39 times in 2011.
"At one point, he was looking at the (pass) rush and wasn't seeing the receivers," a team source said. "When you get hit the way that he got hit, there were some quarterbacks that wouldn't have made it through the season."
Even among those who said the quarterback's inconsistent play was understandable, there was a clear consensus that Sanchez had lost confidence, a dangerous development for a team's offensive leader.
"So many games, he looked defeated when he took the field," a team source said. "He didn't have much confidence in what he was about to go do."
Whether or not the Jets could even get Peyton Manning is debatable. One member of the organization expressed his doubts, citing the team's inability to back up its boasts.
"I don't think that he'll come here," the member said. "We're starting to come across a little flaky. We talk the talk. We don't back it up. We're out of control. There's no discipline. It's a mess right now."
The Jets' offensive struggles, with just 50 points combined over their final three games, have already cost offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer his job. It remains to be seen whether they will cost Sanchez his job as well.