Mark Sanchez - Al Bello
The Jets quarterback faces a big task after being benched last week versus Arizona.
The New York Jets kept alive their slim playoff hopes with a comeback victory last week at home against the Arizona Cardinals. But it was not Mark Sanchez who led the team down the field and to the game-winning touchdown - it was backup Greg McElroy.
But now that head coach Rex Ryan and named Sanchez the starter for this Sunday's game at 2-10 Jacksonville, Sanchez will be facing not only the Jaguars, but he will also be battling his own mind, and that matchup, Sanchez versus himself, is the key to Week 14 for the Jets.
The once franchise quarterback, who is owed more than $8 million next year, is fighting for his Jets life for the first time in his career starting Sunday afternoon. Tim Tebow, whose presence on the roster and sometimes on the field, has surely had a role in the problems Sanchez has had this season, has been named the No. 2 quarterback for this week. And in his hometown of Jacksonville, the crowd will be chanting "Tebow, Tebow" after Sanchez' first off-target pass.
The coach has decided to throw his support behind Sanchez, despite rumblings that owner Woody Johnson wanted McElroy, and pleas from fans across Gang Green Nation to finally rid themselves of Sanchez forever.
This is the only matchup that matters on Sunday. The Jags are a horrible team. They have a bad defense and a bad offense. They have injuries, a starting backup quarterback and backup running back and receivers most fans have never heard of.
No, the key to this game is how Sanchez responds to his benching. Does he come out and complete less than 50 percent of his passes and throw a couple of interceptions, like he has time and time again this season, or does he seize this opportunity and keep the Jets moving in the right direction while turning around his career.
Nobody is going to give Sanchez anything anymore. This is all on him. There is a short leash and Ryan is not afraid to use it to yank Sanchez again if he plays poorly. If he does, and he is pulled from the game again, his Jets career would be all but over.
And it would nobody's fault but his own.
Follow Jason Pafundi on Twitter @jasonpafundi.