Rex Ryan, the ringmaster of the circus that has become the New York Jets, has just pointed the spotlight and megaphone to the man on the high wire without a net...and his name is Mark Sanchez. The Tim Tebow show has come to town, and that means Sanchez is going to have to perform his act to it's highest level, or plunge to his doom.
So many questions and issues arise when you bring the human lightning rod named Tebow into your camp, and Rex Ryan - who loves to make a public spectacle of himself - is loving every minute of the attention. But the thing is, it could all quite easily backfire in the worst possible way.
The way this quarterback situation is being handled by Ringmaster Ryan and his big-top boss Mike Tannenbaum is farcical, and if you look at the timeline I don't think there is any way you can conclude that the two of them didn't know exactly what they were planning.
- March 9 - Mark Sanchez is signed to a 3-year extension with 2 years left on his rookie deal
- March 16 - QB Drew Stanton is signed and told he will be Sanchez's backup
- March 21 - The Jets trade draft picks and cash to the Broncos for Tim Tebow
So within the space of 13 days, the Jets sign three quarterbacks, telling two of them that they are going to be a backup to incumbent starter Mark Sanchez. Drew Stanton had turned down larger offers from other teams banking on the promise he was given that the Jets had no intentions of going after Tebow or any other quarterbacks. A week after signing his deal, Stanton asked to be traded, and was subsequently sent to the Colts, (which by no small coincidence) the team that was essentially responsible for Tebow becoming a Jet in the first place. Everyone following this now?
The first thing I want to know is why Tim Tebow - who doesn't have a cynical, mercurial or disingenuous bone in his body - would choose to go to such a dysfunctional family as the Jets. And no, I'm not buying the story that he didn't have a choice, he's Tim Tebow for heaven's sake. Is he looking at this as a kind of NFL mission trip? Was the idea of returning to his hometown to essentially be plugged in as the starter from day one just too simplified for him? Or are we all wrong about St. Tebow, and he really does crave the spotlight and attention that can only be had when you play in that city that never sleeps? I don't get it.
Tebow is going to start the season as a backup. That much we know. According to Rex Ryan (at least right now) Tebow is going to be used in wildcat formations and other special situations for up to about 20 plays per game. In 2011 Mark Sanchez averaged about 45 snaps per game, and now he's told he's going to be losing potentially half of those snaps? Tim Tebow might be a great situational player and bring some different things to the table, but I'm not sure that Mark Sanchez is the kind of quarterback who can do what the Jets need without getting a maximum number of reps and snaps.
Best case scenario, Sanchez is the guy you want throwing the ball, and Tebow is brought in for trick plays and is used as a sort of pseudo-tailback. Predictability level...pretty high. It wont take long for defenses to figure out the Jets game plan and make adjustments. Defensive ends are just going to start pinning their ears back on the pass rush, and linebackers are just going to sit in the soft part of the zone waiting for the potential interception. It could get ugly.
So let's just say for a minute that Sanchez flounders in this new system, and that the chants of "Teee-bow...Teee-bow" don't fall on deaf ears. Rex Ryan pulls the Sanchez plug, Tebow takes over as a starter, and then what? The biggest problem the Jets had last season is that they couldn't find a real rhythm to their passing offense, and were far too predictable in their run game. Is Tebow going to change that, or make it worse? And this isn't the offensive line of a Denver Broncos pedigree that Tebow is going to be running behind. A lot of those gaping holes and unsealed edges that he found last season probably aren't going to be there for him this year.
So now you potentially have a passing game that went from mediocre to downright bad. You have an unhappy former starting quarterback who you just signed to an extension in the off-season who you'll have to pay or trade, and you have the usual undercurrent of the two sides of the Tebow factions at each other's throat in New York. Questions about Ryan's ability to control and coach this team will step up from whispers to a deafening roar, and GM Mike Tannenbaum will have to start buying asbestos trousers. The only people with perma-grins on will be the sports page editors in New York and New Jersey.
And we haven't even touched on the Plaxico Burress (if he returns) or Santonio Holmes issues. How long before these guys start regularly whining to the press and anyone else that will listen about not being targeted enough, or not understanding why Tebow can't seem to find them when they are open. Drink the haterade guys...drink it down.
And all because you wanted to make a splash by signing Tim Tebow.
If a scenario similar to that one plays out - as I think it may very well - it would be surprising to see the Jets finish with more than seven wins, and with the same head coach they started the season with. It would also be surprising to see Tebow wearing a Jets uniform next season.
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