How the New York Jets Can Use Tim Tebow to Catch San Francisco 49ers off Guard
Now, this has nothing to do with the Tebow vs. Mark Sanchez debate, and I'm not suggesting that Sanchez be benched for part or all of this game. It's just that, if you're going to use Tebow, use him correctly. If you're going to spend quality time practicing a Tebow package, then use it strategically during the game.
The Jets want teams to have to prepare for Tebow. Tony Sparano recently drew attention to the fact that the Miami Dolphins had to burn a time out because Tebow and Sanchez were on the field at the same time.
If a team is spending time preparing for Tebow, that team is not going through its normal routine.
But the opposite of that is also true. Time spent preparing to use Tebow is time not spent by Sanchez working with Jets receivers. It's time that could be used to help Shonn Greene remember how to be a good running back.
AFC East Lead Writer Erik Frenz said it best:
The Jets have successfully lulled their opponents to sleep with the proverbial "jab" of Tebow running the ball. Now, it's time to swing for the fences with an "uppercut..."
Now, Erik's point was that the Jets need to let Tebow pass, and I totally agree. However, I think it is more than that. It's not a matter of play-calling but a matter of intent.
Some people want Tebow to be the Jets reliever or (more strictly) the closer. He's been so good at the end of games that people feel he should just play the fourth quarter or whenever Sanchez looks ineffective for long stretches.
Others think Tebow should be New York's Ronnie Brown or Brad Smith. Roll Tebow out occasionally to assist the running game and keep teams off-balance. Both Sparano and Ryan have plenty of experience with this offensive scheme and it is, largely, how they've used Tebow this season.
If the Jets want to beat a team like the 49ers, they need to stop worrying about Tebow being the change-up and start making him the warning shot, high and inside.
The problem here (besides my mixed metaphors) is that the Jets don't have a fastball. Sanchez isn't running out there with five wides and an up-tempo, no-huddle attack. Having a change-up to your change-up worked for Jamie Moyer, but most pitchers simply fade out of existence—a fate the Jets are currently tempting with their offense.
The Jets have similar problems with him being the reliever to Sanchez's starter role. Think of the message that sends Sanchez—we don't trust you to finish the deal. Another problem is that there's no bullpen in football, you can't go over to the training bubble and practice with 11 guys before coming in for the final quarter.
The Jets need to start punching defenses in the gut with Tebow. March him out with specific personnel groups and—now, this is important—leave him out there! Don't mess with the chemistry of your team by running with Tebow on first down and then expecting Sanchez to complete a pass on second-and-long.
Worst yet, the sporadic usage is hurting Tebow's production, as well. He's consistently missed reads in the option offense, and it is either because the offense is so simplistic that the reads are predetermined, or he's just simply rusty because they're not putting him in a position to succeed.
If Ryan and Sparano need some help, just take the Acela down to Washington. Mike Shanahan has installed a simple zone-read option offense to help take some of the pressure off of rookie Robert Griffin III.
As it stands right now, it looks like the Jets are having more issues game-planning for Tebow than for their opponents.
That is a major problem.
How Many Snaps Should Tebow Play at QB Per Game?
It's an even bigger problem when one realizes that Tebow could actually help the Jets level the playing field against a team like the Niners. On paper, the Jets don't really stand a chance—especially without Darrelle Revis—but the option attack (whether the "Wildcat" style or a version with an actual QB) is one of football's great equalizers.
Why do the service academies run the option? Because they know they'll never have the 5-star recruits needed for a conventional offense to succeed. However, they are confident they will have smart and coachable players—players who will learn and execute the playbook.
We could spend all day contrasting that kind of attitude with the reported character and makeup of the Jets' locker room (via NFL.com), but more important is the idea that the Jets are taking what could be an equalizer and turning it into an obstacle.
Commit to Tebow. Commit to running his package the right way—more than just the occasional snap here or there—and use it as a consistent strategy to actually help this team win football games.
Prove to us, Ryan. Prove to us that Tebow wasn't just another publicity stunt for the Jets. Prove to us that this was more than a way to steal the narrative from the Giants after their Super Bowl win.
Prove to us that your offensive coordinator knows what he is doing.
If you're going to use Tebow and expect to beat teams like the 49ers, use him the right way.
Michael Schottey is the NFL national lead writer for Bleacher Report and an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Find more of his stuff alongside other great writers at "The Go Route."
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