Seven games into the Jets season and one thing is clear: the Jets still don’t know how to use popular, dual-threat quarterback Tim Tebow.
Is he just a straight backup in case Sanchez falls even farther? Is he a gimmick that makes opposing defensive coordinators work extra hard to defend? Or are they just trying to light a fire under the former first-round pick Sanchez?
All those are definite possibilities though none is clearer than the next. After Sunday’s disappointing loss in New England, things look even murkier.
Case in point: with the Jets coming out of halftime down 16–10, Mark Sanchez led the offense on an 11-play drive that ended at New England’s 3-yard line. Facing a third-and-two from the three the Jets elected to put Sanchez in the shotgun and run a slant to Chaz Schilens that just missed. The Jets had to settle for the second of four field goals on day where first place was up for grabs.
The opportunity missed was the perfect time for the 240-pound dual-threat Tebow to shine. Instead he was on the sideline where he spent most of the game, totaling 12 yards on four carries.
“In hindsight when you lose a game you can say ‘Well I wished I would have called this or this.’ That’s always going to be the case,” said Ryan, according to the Jets website, after his team’s fourth loss.
While a Tebow run on third-and-two seemed like the ideal call in the third quarter, hindsight surely shows his run just before the two-minute warning would have been better off being a Sanchez pass.
With 2:01 left on the clock in the fourth quarter any play—run or pass—is going to end with the clock stopping so why call a conservative run up the middle when Sanchez has been finding creases down the field for most of the game? Instead Tebow went up the middle for two yards, the clock stopped anyway, and the Jets came away with yet another disappointing field goal.
So if Tebow isn’t necessarily entering the game for crucial short-yardage situations and has yet to even manage a series, what is his place on the team? Ryan seemed unsure, as already evidenced by their play selection.
“Right now we’re 3–4 with the entire football team,” said Ryan. “Tebow. Everybody.”
And in those seven games, though teams may have to prepare for Tebow, it certainly hasn’t kept them from stopping the nearly Tebow-less Jets and their offense which still remains a disappointment to most.
“I can see from the outside that we had over 400 yards in that game,” said Ryan, who seems to have a not-as-popular take on the team. “I thought we ran the ball effectively at times and we threw the ball effectively at times.”
Should Ryan and the Jets keep churning out 400-yard efforts everyone will forget about the backup quarterback standing on the sidelines, that cost the Jets a fourth and a sixth round pick, for sure. But the performance wasn’t a typical one for this season.
Nearly halfway through the 2012 season, the Jets are 29th out of 32 teams in total offense averaging just over 310 yards a contest.
And even after Sanchez’s 328-yard performance Sunday the team is still 28th in the league in passing following a dismal five-game stretch by the former fifth-overall pick who has picked up right where he left off last season—in the bottom third of the quarterback ratings.
Whatever Tebow’s role was supposed to be or could be, it certainly couldn’t make things any worse.