PlayBook: An Anonymous Mutiny

By Fraser Lockerbie

The masked Mark Sanchez lynch mob and your lines for the NFL divisional round.

Mark Sanchez is a dirty little worm who’s QBR has yet to crack 80 on a season, forcing the Jets to stage yet another intricate performance outside MetLife in an effort to explain to dissatisfied New Yorkers that he, Mark Sanchez, isn’t really that bad. Except he is.

“People of New York, it is unfortunate that we must again address another terrible Mark Sanchez season. You would think with the talent we’ve pieced together here - the combination of Plaxico Burress, Santonio Holmes and Dustin Keller along with two of the leagues’ better running backs - we would be able to talk about something else in January but instead we are here talking about a quarterback who finished 8-8, ranked somewhere between Sam Bradford and Kevin Kolb in almost every statistical category and had a QB rating worse than Tavaris Jackson. This is of course no fault of his own as it has not been in the past and won’t be in the future; it is the improbable coming together of circumstance, or if not, the actions of a cruel and humorless God. We will of course continue to pay him something in the neighborhood of $10 million a season in hopes that this sad, strange experiment will somehow correct itself but we’re not hopeful it will, neither this season or the next or for the remaining four years on his contract. We apologize in advance for what we’re sure will be more disappointing seasons to come and ask that you please voice any questions or concerns anonymously to the press.”

This is what is being said in not so many words by the Jets brass while the unnamed naysayers circling in the locker room have already started sharpening their knives and planning to scorch the earth until Sanchez is simply not welcomed back.

This is what happens when perfectly fine seasons go awry. We’ve seen it once already with the chicken, beer and video games fiasco in Boston and we’re seeing it again now that the dust has settled on another NFL season in New York. Mutinies are common when things don’t quite go according to plan, and there is no better mutiny than the anonymous one.

The fact of the matter is Mark Sanchez is not a very good quarterback despite being spoken about in the same breath as the ones who are. But this trend of anonymous, backroom backstabbing is bad for business. The press has run amok this year, quoting a handful of unnamed sources saying treasonous things and if it were any other professional than sports, it would cause many people down the line to lose their jobs.

There is, despite what some might think, a professional code of ethics in journalism that we cannot abandon in the name of sensationalism. Quoting unnamed sources ranks up there with misattribution and taking things out of context. It lowers the level of content to that of celebrity gossip magazines and borders eerily close to bat boy and the Loch Ness monster. Any story slaying a professional athlete in a pressure cooker like New York is clearly going to get play whether it is sourced properly or not. The fact that he is actually a shitty quarterback saves them from slander but there isn’t really anyone left in the room to sue.

What should be on trial here is the underhanded ethics of a publication making something out of nothing. We know Mark Sanchez sucks; he’s got the stats to prove it. We didn’t need balaclava-clad Santonio Holmes, or for all we know bat boy himself, to tell us anonymously otherwise. What we’re left with once we buy into these stories is a lack of accountability, a draft from open door where journalists can pass off whatever they like as news. How far are we from unattributed sources saying whatever they want? And how long will it take for them to become more serious than “Mark Sanchez is lazy?” Drinking whatever Kool-Aid a publication sells you simply because they sold it doesn’t make it so. Print on a page is a medium and a business and not a substitute for the truth which is why we say you should never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel. Sanchez is just the latest victim of the overzealous professional sporting press, but there will be many more so long as we accept everything we read from an unnamed source.

This Week’s Lines:

Houston (+7.5) over Baltimore

No one is going to win a runaway game when two defenses like this come up against each other. Their defensive numbers are virtually identical and their offensive numbers are not too far off with both teams averaging just under 24 points a game. The difference maker will be how well rookie TJ Yates does with Ray Lewis looking to take off his head on almost every play and probably succeeding on at least a few. If Flacco can keep his composure on the other side of the ball, the Ravens should be on their way to the conference game.

Green Bay (-7.5) over New York

The Giants have now won three do-or-die games in a row and held the Falcons to a rare two points in the Wild Card round. That’s not going to happen here but this game might actually be better than most think. Not necessarily closer by the end of 60 minutes, but better. The Giants gave the Pack their first scare in Week 13 and they’re both playing for the season now. Expect a hard fought game.

San Francisco (+4) over New Orleans

For all the credit New Orleans gets for being an offensive powerhouse, their regular season schedule tended towards teams with bogus secondary statistics. In fact, they only played three teams with a top twenty pass defense and two of those teams combined for only seven wins in 2011. The Niners are neither good nor bad at stopping the pass but they can hold their own on the ground and held teams to just 308 yards per game, good for fourth best in the league. With Darren Sproles a non-factor, Brees’ play action plan will suffer and San Fran’s secondary works when it knows what’s coming.

New England (-13.5) over Denver

We watched this game not so long ago and we can expect the results to be about the same the second time around. The Broncos will be without the added bonus of the thin air surrounding Mile High so the team battle goes to the Pats. If Tebow wants the win he’ll have to prove he can throw through the horrible Pats’ secondary, a relatively easy task for anyone who can throw a football with any consistency; Tebow has yet to prove that he can.

Last Week:1-3

Overall: 78-53-6


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