Scattered Clouds 34° Good Afternoon
Scattered Clouds 34° Good Afternoon

Recalling Bart Scott's top-10 talk for Mark Sanchez

New York Jets linebacker Bart Scott reacts at

New York Jets linebacker Bart Scott reacts at NFL training camp in Cortland, N.Y. (July 29, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Bart Scott made the expectations of Mark Sanchez known back in training camp.

The fourth-year quarterback needed to make that quantum leap toward Top 10 status, not only for his own sake, but also for that of the team. After a 2011 season in which the Jets imploded down the stretch and failed to make the postseason for the first time under Rex Ryan, Scott made it clear in Cortland that Sanchez needed to make a marked improvement for the Jets to be successful.

"We're very confident in Mark and we know he can lead us," Scott said back then. "He's done it in the past."

But now, just four months removed from a summer filled with optimism in upstate New York, Sanchez isn't even close to be Top 10-worthy. He's not even the Jets' starting quarterback anymore.

Scott, however, didn't voice disappointment in Sanchez. Instead, he lamented the team's collective struggles in a disastrous 2012 season that has left many unanswered questions about the direction of the franchise.

"When I was saying those things, I was assuming -- and taking for granted -- that Santonio [Holmes] was going to be here, Josh Baker was going to be here, who was our utility guy, that Dustin [Keller] was going to be healthy, that Stephen Hill was going to be healthy and explosive," Scott said Thursday.

Those mounting injuries, including the loss of All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis (ACL tear), helped to weaken the team's depth - not only on offense and defense, but on special teams as well, said Scott. And, in turn, Sanchez's play suffered.

"When you're playing with your guys, you're better," the linebacker said. "How good is Tyson Chandler without Carmelo? How good is 'Melo without Jason Kidd? We're only as good, sometimes, as the people around us."

"It's never one guy," he added, referring to Sanchez. "Could he have played better? Yeah. But we all could have played better."

Sanchez's benching, in favor of third-stringer Greg McElroy, came as no surprise. His five turnovers in a must-win Monday night game in Tennessee doomed the Jets' chances of reaching the postseason.

Despite Ryan's repeated warnings about taking care of the football, Sanchez now leads the NFL with 50 turnovers over the past two seasons. Scott, who has seen his own play diminish because of a nagging toe injury, was careful not to criticize the struggling Sanchez.

"I don't know where to assess the blame," Scott said. "I don't know if the receiver didn't run the right depth, if the receiver did something wrong or read the coverage wrong. I don't know. If this had been a defensive problem, I could sit down here and I could analyze everything, and tell you 'this is what happened.' I really don't know with Mark what it is."

But even so, this was the year the Jets expected Sanchez to make far greater strides; to not only improve his completion percentage (which hovered around 57 percent in 2011), but to lead them back to the playoffs. He did none of those things.

"Not just with quarterbacks, but with everybody - year four is kind of the benchmark," Scott said. "'Is he going to ascend or descend?' And it's up to the people to evaluate how he played to say whether he's good or bad. That's not up for me to say. But in year four in the NFL, yeah, you pretty much know what you got.

"In year four, you pretty much know."

New York Sports