A quick take on the Jets and the NFL:
1. Moneyball: You’ve been hearing a lot about how the Jets are stuck with QB Mark Sanchez for 2013 because of his contract. Here’s an explanation on why that likely is the case:
Sanchez's salary-cap number for next season is $12.8 million. If the Jets cut him, they will incur a crippling $17.1 million cap charge in 2013, according to figures obtained by ESPNNewYork.com. That bloated charge would include his $8.25 million salary guarantee. There’s no off-set in the contract, meaning the Jets are on the hook for the entire salary regardless of how much he receives from another team. They could designate him as a June 1 cut. That would spread the cap charge over two seasons -- $12.35 million in ’13 and $4.8 million in ’14. Bottom line: He’s uncuttable.
If the Jets trade Sanchez, they’d get hit with an $8.9 million cap charge in ’13, but no team in its right mind would pick up the $8.25 million guarantee. They could renegotiate the contract, the way the Rams did with OT Jason Smith before trading him to the Jets. But that still would require the Jets to pay a large chunk of the $8.25 million guarantee – and that would count on the ’13 cap. Even if another team is willing to pay half -- I'm being generous -- the Jets still would get stuck with about $13 million in “dead” money – and they’d have to write him a $4 million-plus check to go away.
Unless Sanchez is willing to make some concessions – maybe he’ll be desperate for a change of scenery – it looks like he’ll be back in 2013. We might not be able to say the same for the people who thought it was a wise move to renegotiate his contract last offseason.
2. Hot seat: I honestly don’t know what will happen with embattled GM Mike Tannenbaum after the season, but the buzz in NFL circles is that his job is in jeopardy. I’m also hearing that former Colts GM Bill Polian, now an ESPN analyst, could be headed to the Chiefs.
3. Brutal schedule: When owner Woody Johnson evaluates the season and decides who stays and who goes, this is something he might want to consider: The Jets played the toughest schedule in the league through the first 12 games, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The combined record of their opponents is 83-59-2 – a .583 winning percentage. On the subject of schedules, I should mention they have the easiest over the final four games – 15-33, a .313 winning percentage. If the Jets don’t finish at least 8-8, something is bad wrong.
4. So much for that: One of the thoughts with Sanchez is that, if he has a strong running game, he can thrive with play-action passes. That hasn't been the case. In fact, six of his 13 interceptions came on play-action, per ESPN Stats. He's 37-for-59, with two TDs and six INTs, a 61.5 passer rating.
5. No-ring circus: The San Diego Union Tribune reported that Chargers coach Norv Turner will be fired at the end of the season. Would the Jets be interested in Turner to run the offense? Tony Sparano’s offense is ranked 29th, so the Jets could definitely be in the market for a new coordinator. Turner is a proven coordinator, and he has coached the 49ers’ Alex Smith, who could be on the Jets’ QB radar. But can you see a Ryan-Turner marriage? I can’t.
They got into a war of words last season during the run-up to a game. Ryan, noting how he interviewed for the Chargers’ job in 2007, told the San Diego media, “I think I would’ve had a couple of rings. I’m telling you, those teams were loaded.” I don’t think he meant it as a shot at Turner, but it was. To which Turner replied, “I was wondering if he had those rings with the ones he guaranteed the last couple of years.” The Jets play the Chargers in two weeks. Oh, goodie.
6. Norv, Part II: Speaking of Turner, he isn’t exactly doing a great job with QB Philip Rivers, who has a league-high 45 turnovers over the last two seasons. Sanchez is second with 44.
7. Tony Time: Sparano got a bit defensive when discussing the offense, insisting it has made significant strides in the running game. Uh, not exactly. The yards per game has increased, but over the last three weeks, the Jets have averaged 3.7 per carry. Over the first nine games, it was 3.8. He sounded so convincing, though.
8. Big Monday: Who’s fired up for Patriots-Texans Monday night? I know I am. The teams are a combined 20-4, tied for the best combined record in a Monday-night matchup – ever (based on a minimum of 12 games apiece). A 20-4 matchup has occurred three previous times, but it hasn’t happened since 1987. That year, the 49ers defeated the Bears in a showdown between two 10-2 teams.
9. Grin and Bear it: Brian Urlacher’s hamstring injury, which could sideline him for a few weeks, is a huge hit for the Bears. How important is Urlacher? Over the last three seasons, he has played in a team-high 96.9 percent of the defensive snaps, per ESPN Stats & Information.
10. Silver lining: This one goes out to the Sanchez fans (I’m sure there are still some out there): His three interceptions/benching last week came five years and a week after Eli Manning suffered a four-interception meltdown against the Vikings -- one of several poor games in '07. Two months later, Manning was a Super Bowl MVP. Just saying.