New York Jets

Tim Tebow, Mark Sanchez, & The Single Biggest Mistake Of The Offseason

Once Tom Brady’s desperation heave fell short in Super Bowl XLVI, the New York Giants strengthened their stranglehold on football in the Big Apple by claiming its second Vince Lombardi Trophy in the last five seasons.

Conversely, the Jets dipped their collective toes back into the pool of NFL irrelevancy. After reaching consecutive AFC title games, New York collapsed at season’s end by turning an 8-5 campaign into an 8-8 finish.

Their final three games symbolized Jets football in 2011; long on hot-air and small on results.

While their highly regarded defense didn’t impress many in the season’s second half, it was the offense that failed to gain traction on a consistent basis.

New York ranked 25th in total offense last year and 21st in passing. Meanwhile, Mark Sanchez, their roller-coaster ride of a starting quarterback, posted career-highs in touchdown passes (26), yards (3,474), and quarterback rating (78.2).

None of it mattered due to New York’s inability to rush the football with the same verve as in previous seasons. During their two AFC title game runs in ’09 and ’10, the Jets ranked first and fourth respectively in rushing.

Last year proved to be a vastly different story. The Jets averaged only 3.8 yards per rush, ranking 30th in the NFL; and fell to 22nd in rushing. Shonn Greene’s unspectacular running style did little to bolster the rushing attack; while LaDainian Tomlinson became a bit player in his final season with a meager 75 carries in 14 games.

Then, there was Santonio Holmes, whose lack of composure during the team’s season finale against Miami cost him the team’s captaincy.

The ultimate fall guy ended up being offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, who left to join Team Fisher in St. Louis.

Throughout last season and during the offseason, we heard Rex Ryan discuss how much the team missed versatile receiver Brad Smith, who they used on many occasions out of a Wildcat formation.

Smith’s departure to Buffalo, New York’s running futility, and Peyton Manning’s release in Indianapolis, opened the door for season’s riskiest move.

Tim Tebow is not an NFL quarterback. He is the NFL’s version of Sideshow Bob; a player whose off-the-field image and following far outweigh his actual on-field abilities.

Whether it’s as a runner, special teams player, or quarterback, if Tebow’s contributions and talents were that significant, John Elway or some other executive would have entrusted him to be a starting quarterback in this league.

The guy might be able to lift large truck tires and run in the rain with his shirt off, but his label at the moment is pretty clear.

He is the NFL’s most high profile novelty act.

Meanwhile, New York gave Mark Sanchez $20 million guaranteed in a five-year deal, which appeared to be a vote of confidence. Days later, they brought in Tebow, who will be linked to Sanchez every time the USC Trojan throws a ball into the MetLife Stadium turf.

If Sanchez is the quarterback and you just extended him three more years, he is the guy right?

Nope, not in Tim Tebowland. Tebow’s arrival is closely linked to New York’s Wildcat revival but it’s not going to entirely work that way. When Taboo gets hot, I wouldn’t doubt that Ryan will ride him like Zorro if it means victory.

Then of course, loyalties will be divided as they were in Denver and Tebowmania will be in full swing.

As Santonio Holmes pointed out, the idea of a two-quarterback system rings hollow. One guy needs to be the boss at all times. New offensive coordinator Tony Sparano will utilize Tebow’s skills effectively but it could come with a price.

In order, for the Wildcat to function properly, Tebow will need to prove he can be more than a 47 percent career passer. He’ll need reps as a quarterback to throw to actually do that.

If defenses must defend his running ability (he averaged over five yards per carry last and rushed for over 600 yards last season) and throwing, the Jets might get their rushing groove back.

Unfortunately for Jets fans though, this isn’t 1971 and Ryan doesn’t have Craig Morton and Roger Staubach at his disposal. Yet, the temptation of trotting out some sort of two quarterback system may prove too seductive for the Jets.

This situation has quarterback controversy written all over it. If the Jets want this to be Mark Sanchez’s team, than let him do it.

Extra curricular activities be damned, Sanchez has to be the guy to get New York to the Super Bowl. He is not going to be able to do that with Tebow peering over his shoulder or Tebowing in the end zone.

New York’s best hope in 2012 is for their defense, offensive line, and rushing attack return to top form.

Placing the trust of your team’s Super Bowl hopes in the hands of both Sanchez and Tebow is a recipe for disaster.

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