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Jets may quickly regret signing March Sanchez long-term

New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez looks at the scoreboard after throwing an interception against the New York Giants in the fourth quarter during their NFL football game in East Rutherford, New Jersey December 24, 2011. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

The New York Jets aren’t exactly in an envious position when it comes to their quarterback situation.

They have a guy in Mark Sanchez whom they parted with first and second round selections, as well as players Kenyon Coleman, Abram Elam and Brett Ratliff in order to acquire on draft day in 2009. Since then Sanchez has led them to two AFC title games in the past three years but he hasn’t exactly been Peyton Manning in the regular season.

Oh, and speaking of Manning, the four-time league MVP became available last week when the Colts released him following multiple neck surgeries and before he was due a massive roster bonus. As of this writing, Peyton is still available but you won’t be seeing him in green and white any time soon. That’s because the Jets decided to pass on signing Manning, at least according to owner Woody Johnson. Said Johnson, “We’re signed up with our quarterback. Sanchez is not leaving.”

No, he certainly isn’t. Not after the Jets signed him to a three-year, $40.5 million extension through 2016 after briefly flirting with signing Manning (who, as reported, rebuffed their advances). By committing to Sanchez long-term, I envision the Jets pushing all of their chips into the center of the pile and saying, “All in.” And I don’t like the move.

There will be plenty of people who suggest that former offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, who was viewed as too conservative and predictable, held Sanchez back the past three seasons. But offensive coordinators are always “too conservative and predictable” when an offense is struggling. I’m not a big fan of Schottenheimer’s playcalling but I think the problem in New York is that he was awfully limited at quarterback.

Has Sanchez played well in the postseason? No question. But the Jets reached the playoffs in 2009 and 2010 almost in spite of their limited quarterback – not because of him. Had it not been for Rex Ryan’s defense and a solid running game, there was no way Sanchez was putting the Jets on his shoulders and willing them to victories. If you disagree, then I wonder how you felt watching the Jets last year when their running game fell apart and the team crumbled under Sanchez’s play.

Teams shouldn’t make it a habit of rewarding quarterbacks that have regressed each year but that’s exactly what the Jets have done by signing Sanchez to an extension. What’s worse is that they’ve settled for complacency at the most important position on the field. Because of this contract extension, the Jets aren’t going to lure many veteran free agents wanting to win a job. And with nobody pushing Sanchez, what’s going to make him reach new heights as a quarterback?

Granted, the final three years allow the Jets to cut Sanchez without taking a massive cap hit. But for the next two seasons he’ll make big-time quarterback money and the problem is that he isn’t a big-time quarterback. Instead of restructuring his current deal, the Jets should have concentrated on creating competition at the position by bringing in a veteran starter. Now they’re committed to “Sanchise” for at least another two years and that, my friends, is a risk that probably wasn’t worth taking.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @TheScoresReport. You can also follow TSR editor Gerardo Orlando @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom, and you can follow TSR editor Anthony Stalter @AnthonyStalter.

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What do the odds say about where Peyton Manning will play in 2012?

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning calls a play against the New Orleans Saints in the first quarter during the NFL’s Super Bowl XLIV football game in Miami, Florida, February 7, 2010. REUTERS/Hans Deryk (UNITED STATES)

Now that he has officially be released from the Colts, speculation is heating up on where Peyton Manning will sign for the 2012 season.

So what do the odds say about which team will sign Manning when the free agency period kicks off next week?

According to oddsmakers at the online sports book Sportsbook.com, the Dolphins are the favorites to land Manning at +125. The team with the next best odds is the Cardinals at +350, followed by the Chiefs at +600, the Jets at +700, and the Seahawks and Redskins at +800, respectively.

Some of the long shots include the Broncos (+1000), 49ers (+1000), Texans (+1800) and Titans (+1800). There’s also +600 odds on “The Field,” which constitutes any other team not listed by the website, as well as “No Team,” which has odds of +1200. “No Team” comes with the stipulation that Manning doesn’t throw a pass in the 2012/13 NFL regular season.

As expected, rumors are flying in regards to where Peyton will wind up. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported this morning that the Chiefs and Broncos have spoken to Manning’s reps, although Peyton reportedly has no interest in playing for a cold weather team. If that’s true, that would theoretically take the Broncos, Chiefs, Jets and Seahawks out of the running, while making teams like the Cardinals and Dolphins the frontrunners.

Personally I’m pulling for Manning to wind up in New York, although only because it would make for the best storylines. Manning and Brady could go toe-to-toe twice a year and the Manning brothers would be playing in the same city. Plus, the dynamics between Peyton and Rex Ryan would be fun to watch unfold.

The Manning era is over in Indy but let’s enjoy Peyton’s presence while we still can

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning walks off the field after throwing an interception in the final moments of their NFL football game against the New England Patriots in Foxborough, Massachusetts November 21, 2010. REUTERS/Brian Snyder (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Even though this moment has been coming for a couple of months, it still seems sudden. Weird. Wrong even.

I can still remember thinking that the Colts made a poor decision by drafting Peyton Manning instead of Ryan Leaf. “Look at this feet,” I used to say while watching Tennessee games. “He’s so jittery in the pocket. He’s going to be an erratic passer in the NFL.”

Fifteen seasons, two Super Bowl appearances, four MVP awards, 11 Pro Bowls, and gobs of passing records later and the Peyton Manning era is officially over in Indianapolis. The moment hardly seems real. We’ve gotten so used to Manning peering through that blue facemask with the horseshoes on each side of his helmet that it’s hard to imagine him in any other uniform. I kind of figured he would just go on playing forever, barking out signals for the Colts well into his 80s.

Nobody is at fault for this separation. This is life after all, where things ultimately come to an end. The Indianapolis Colts were around 45 years prior to Manning arriving in 1998 and they’ll be around long after he’s gone, too. Even for as much as he’s meant to the organization, Manning will inevitability be just one key figure in an organization that also had the pleasure of watching Johnny Unitas, Raymond Berry, and John Mackey don its uniform. The Colts are a rebuilding team now and rebuilding teams don’t pay $28 million roster bonuses to 35-year-old quarterbacks coming off multiple neck surgeries. Their horrific 2011 season has given them a chance to draft the next Peyton Manning and they can’t forgo that opportunity because they’re sentimentally tied to one of the greatest players their organization has ever seen. It’s time to move on.

Manning will move on as well. As a football fan it’s exciting to listen to him talk about continuing his career, barring his health is okay, of course. We’ve never been treated to Peyton Manning the free agent and while he isn’t 26 anymore, it’s fun to read speculation about the Jets, Dolphins, and Chiefs being interested in his services. The storylines will be endless, especially if he winds up in New York with his brother.

Many people assume that he’s damaged goods and maybe he is. Maybe he’ll never be able to throw a pass longer than 15 yards and maybe he’ll be a disaster next year. Maybe he should hang ‘em up so that he doesn’t risk more damage to his health.

But what if he can still play? Can you imagine what he’d do for a team like the Jets, a team that has been starved for good quarterback play since Rex Ryan became their head coach in 2009? He may never be the Peyton of old but he doesn’t have to be in order to win another Super Bowl. The 1997 and 1998 Denver Broncos were Terrell Davis’ teams – not John Elway’s. But because Elway knew how to take a step back, the Broncos were very successful with him under center.

Or maybe he won’t have an Elway-like finish to his career. So be it. Manning will still go down as one of the greatest quarterbacks to have ever played the game and people will remember him in Indy blue and white. But thanks to his decision to keep playing, football fans will be treated to a “bonus round” of sorts. It certainly won’t be the same as watching him orchestrate the Colts’ offense while dissecting defenses like a surgeon, but it’ll be something new and fresh.

The Peyton Manning era in Indianapolis is over and sooner rather than later, the Peyton Manning NFL era will have concluded as well. But for now, I’m going to enjoy watching that jittery-footed Peyton give it one more shot in another team’s uniform.

Peyton Manning to sign with the Redskins?

Injured Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning watches from the sidelines before their NFL football game against the New England Patriots in Foxborough, Massachusetts December 4, 2011. REUTERS/Brian Snyder (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

CBSSports.com’s Mike Freeman says that “everyone” he’s spoken to in the NFL believes if Peyton Manning becomes a free agent the Redskins will sign him.

Here’s what Freeman wrote:

7. Look for Peyton Manning and Jim Irsay to meet within the next 48 hours — if they already haven’t done so secretly. Manning, I’m told, wanted some time to pass before meeting with Irsay so his brother could celebrate his championship in peace. Manning knows the minute he and Irsay meet, it’ll become public (mainly because Manning or his agent will leak their side of it).

8. Speaking of Peyton, everyone I speak to in the NFL — and I mean just about everyone — believes if Manning becomes a free agent, the Washington Redskins will sign him.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter said on Tuesday that the favorites “in my mind” to land Manning are the Dolphins, while John Clayton noted that Cardinals owner Bill Bidwell will balk on signing Peyton after committing $65 million and $21.5 million guaranteed to Kevin Kolb last offseason.

For what it’s worth, oddsmakers list the Cardinals (+200) as the favorites to have Peyton Manning on their roster in 2013, while the Redskins (+250) have the next best odds (+250) followed by the Dolphins.

I would keep my eye on the Jets as well. Rex Ryan has often been infatuated with beating Manning over the years and it’s not like the Jets have a starting quarterback currently on their roster…

…ZING!

Several coaching changes taking place in the NFL this week

Miami Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano adjusts his headset as he coaches against the San Diego Chargers during their NFL football game in San Diego, California October 2, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Blake (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

There have been several coaching changes that have taken place in the NFL this week. Here’s the latest news from around the league.

Sparano now the offensive coordinator for the Jets
Following the resignation of Brian Schottenheimer on Tuesday night, the Jets moved quickly by hiring former Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano offensive coordinator on Wednesday. Sparano called plays with the Cowboys in 2006 and his style matches that of Rex Ryan’s “ground ‘n’ pound” philosophy. There was also a report from the New York Daily News on Wednesday that several players and members of the organization have doubts about whether Mark Sanchez has enough ability to succeed at quarterback. Apparently some want the team to pursue Peyton Manning if he were to become available this offseason.

Raiders dump Jackson after one season.
The Raiders have fired head coach Hue Jackson, believes owner Mark Davis and not new GM Reggie McKenzie was at the root of his termination. “I would be hard-pressed to find a guy who didn’t like Hue,” receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh said. “I’ll bet you San Diego, Kansas City and Denver like this move, because we would have been good next year with Hue.” The Raiders will be searching for their 34th head coach in the past five seasons.

“Marty Ball” coming to Tampa?
The Bucs interviewed 68-year-old Marty Schottenheimer for their vacant head-coaching position on Tuesday. He’s 200-126-1 during the regular season but just 5-13 in the postseason, which has bread the moniker “Marty Ball.” While he often does a fantastic job rebuilding teams, he’s been heavily criticized for his conservatism and brutal coaching during the postseason. According to SI.com’s Jim Trotter, Marty’s son Brian will not be joining the Bucs’ staff if Marty lands the head-coaching job.

Haley heading back to the desert?
The Cardinals have apparently spoken to ex-Chiefs head coach Todd Haley about possibly returning to Arizona, although it’s not known at this point if a) Haley is interested and b) what position he would hold. It’s worth noting that the Cardinals fired quarterbacks coach Chris Miller on Tuesday, so maybe the team is already in the process of making room for their former offensive coordinator.

Jaguars hire Mularkey, Falcons need to replace both coordinators.
Following the Falcons’ embarrassing 24-2 loss to the Giants on Sunday, defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder left the organization Monday to accept the same role at the University of Auburn. On Tuesday night, offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey was hired as head coach of the Jaguars, leaving the Falcons with two positions to fill. Jack Del Rio’s name has been mentioned as a potential replacement for VanGorder but as of this time, nobody has been mentioned as a potential suitor for Mularkey. (The options are limitless, although if I were the Falcons I’d scoop up Hue Jackson in heartbeat.)

Gruden staying in Cincinnati.
Bengals’ offensive coordinator Jay Gruden confirmed on Wednesday that he won’t be interview for any open head-coaching jobs this offseason. “I’m new to this. If I’d been in the league 25 years, I would have interviewed,” Gruden told the media. “I just wanted to put it to bed and move on with what we’ve got going here.” Noble might not be the best word to describe Gruden’s decision to stay put but it’s nice to see that a coach wants to grow as a coordinator before rushing off to be a head coach.

Colts find their new GM.
The Colts hired Eagles director of player personnel Ryan Grigson as their next general manager according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Grigson is highly regarded in the scouting community and was the runner-up to Howie Roseman for the Eagles’ GM job in 2010. He’ll replace Bill Polian in Indianapolis.

Bears promote Mike Tice to offensive coordinator.
This transaction actually happened last week but it was worth noting in this piece. Tice did a nice job maximizing the talent that former GM Jerry Angelo got him along the offensive line (that’s a nice way of saying that Tice didn’t have much to work with), but he’s not much of a game-planner. Chances are he’ll manage the running game and the Bears will seek another coach to coordinate their passing attack. If you’re confused, so are most Chicago fans.

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