Tim Tebow: New York Jets Must Start Mark Sanchez in Opener—QB Job His to Lose

Eli NachmanyCorrespondent IIIDecember 17, 2016

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 17:  Quarterback Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York Jets and quarterback Tim Tebow #15 of the Denver Broncos meet at midfield after the Broncos defeated the Jets 17-13 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on November 17, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. Tim Tebow scored the game winning touchdown with 58 seconds remaining in the game.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

After the New York Jets made a small move to pick up quarterback Tim Tebow yesterday, the Big Apple was abuzz with renewed hope and excitement about Gang Green.

The Broncos are happy and the Jets are happy, but we must temper our excitement. Mark Sanchez is still the starting quarterback on this football team.

After New York signed Sanchez to a king-sized, three-year extension, it was clear that Woody Johnson, Mike Tannenbaum, Rex Ryan and the rest of the Jets' decision-makers had complete faith in Sanchez's ability to lead the team to the playoffs.

Tim Tebow is a great quarterback (I said quarterback, not passer) in his system, but he cannot go into training camp (or leave training camp, for that matter) as the starter.

Tebow advocates are so eager to point out how the former college standout was 8-5 as a starter last year, taking down the tough Steelers in his first-ever playoff contest before succumbing to a tough Patriots squad.

What these fans fail to realize is that, since 2009, Mark Sanchez has led the Jets to a 28-20 record (including an 8-8 season this year). The argument that "Sanchez only won because of the players around him" is the same argument that so many detractors have used against Tebow.

If anything, comparing Tebow's winning percentage last year (61.5 percent) to the Jets' win percentage since 2009 (58.3 percent—playoffs not included) is not enough of a difference to switch out Mark Sanchez.

This is not to say that the Jets should sit Tebow and make him bide his time until Sanchez finally cracks. Tebow walks into the Jets facility and immediately becomes one of the most valuable pieces on offense.

Tim Tebow is the best player in the NFL at running the collegiate option game. Being able to mix in the option will be a dangerous key to the Jets' new offense.

Of course, with Tony Sparano on board, New York has a serious opportunity to have one of the most explosive offenses in the game. Whether it's a Sanchez-run pro-style or a Tebow-run option (with Jeremy Kerley and Joe McKnight acting as dangerous jokers), the Jets will be completely able to control the tempo of the football game.

This presents an interesting insight into 2012.

Yes, Tebow will play a big role in the Jets offense next year, and he will certainly see a lot of time, but it is important that Rex Ryan and Tony Sparano assert (from day one) that Mark Sanchez is the team's starting quarterback.

Those who will comment on whether Sanchez will "get out of a rhythm" if the Wildcat is overused must be aware that the Jets do frequently run the Wildcat offense anyway, with players like Brad Smith (in past years) and most recently Jeremy Kerley. The Jets quarterback is used to being subbed out every now and again to change up the defense's look.

If anything, the Jets need to be very careful how they approach the Tim Tebow situation. Tony Sparano needs to placate the fans by giving Tebow an ample amount of playing time, but he also needs to keep order and stability within the building by making certain that everyone in the building knows Mark Sanchez is the signal-caller.

The last thing that the Jets need is Metlife Stadium, 82,000 fans strong, screaming for Tim Tebow when the fragile Sanchez is trying to put together a game-winning drive.

Look for this to be an interesting story as the media appeal of Tim Tebow meets the media mecca of New York City.

Mark Sanchez is still the starter, though.

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