On Sunday, New York Jets fans got their wish. In the third quarter against the visiting Arizona Cardinals, Mark Sanchez was benched in favor of second-year quarterback Greg McElroy.
As soon as Jets head coach Rex Ryan made the call, fans at MetLife Stadium voiced their approval with loud roars of cheers as McElroy trotted onto the field to lead the offense for the first time.
Jets fans finally saw light at the end of the tunnel, as the game was an ugly affair full of turnovers and three-and-outs by both offenses. With McElroy now on the field, and the Jets down 6-0, a wave of optimism entered the stadium after head coach Ryan made the move.
“We’ve been waiting for this for a long time. I know I’ve been,” Richie Sorce, a long-time Jets fan and senior, said. “I’m tired of them having Sanchez’s back, based on the fact that he did fairly well a few years ago. He’s been awful ever since.”
Other Jets fans around campus feel the same about Sanchez, who signed a contract extension nine months ago worth a guaranteed $20.5 million through 2013.
Patrick Jaron, also a Jets fan and senior at Ramapo, spoke about his frustrations with Sanchez.
“He’s been terrible,” Jaron said. “Throwing a bunch of interceptions, fumbling and running into his own offensive line, it’s been time for a change for months. Finally, we have something to cheer about after so many loses.”
Sanchez has thrown 18 interceptions so far in 2012, and with four games left to go, many fans expect that number to rise.
In their Thanksgiving game against the division rival New England Patriots, Sanchez ran a play in which he faked a handoff to running back Lex Hilliard and attempted to run the ball and slide. Unfortunately, the play didn’t pan out as they had hoped, and Sanchez collided with Jets guard Brandon Moore, which forced the ball loose and allowed the Patriots to recover.
In a call that Ryan said he felt he had to make after watching the game continue, McElroy led the Jets down the field in 10 plays for 69 yards that culminated in a 1-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jeff Cumberland.
Chris Macaluso, a Ramapo graduate, was in his living room watching the game and was happy to see McElroy succeed in his first attempt as the Jets’ shot-caller.
“It was good to see,” Macaluso said. “Not only as fans, but he’s been waiting to play ever since he got drafted in 2011. He made the best of the situation and hopefully that translates to more playing time, maybe even becoming the starter.”
Yet early yesterday morning, it was announced that Sanchez would return to his starting role. Sunday’s game against the Jaguars could determine Sanchez’s future with the Jets.
“If he does poorly against Jacksonville, even in the first half, he’s done,” Jaron said. “McElroy then comes in, and it’s all over for Sanchez. He has to play well, not just for us fans but for himself, if he wants to keep his job.”