The New York Jets have a winning record but face an extremely difficult stretch of games.
They play the San Francisco 49ers this Sunday before taking on the Houston Texans in Week 5. There will then be a brief respite against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 6 before a Week 7 showdown with the New England Patriots.
Taking on three of the best teams in the NFL in the next four weeks could further expose many of the Jets' weaknesses and leave little room for error if the team has any hopes of making the postseason.
Here is what Tebow must do to get the starting nod from the coaching staff.
Run the Ball Effectively Against Tough Defenses
The 49ers and the Texans rank fifth and eight, respectively, in rushing yards allowed. And unfortunately for the Jets, they have questions at the skill positions and problems with pass protection.
That means to be successful against those defenses, the Jets will need to run the ball effectively, a task running back Shonn Greene will not be able to hand on his own.
They must get Tebow involved in the ground game. If he is able to run effectively, it will go a long way toward convincing the coaches to make him the starter.
If New York goes with Tebow, it will revert to the same strategy the Denver Broncos used last season, which called for a significant number of designed runs for the former Heisman Trophy winner.
Just like the Broncos last season, the Jets may have to run an offense similar to the spread option with Tebow as the QB to have a shot at the playoffs. If he can pick up yards rushing against quality defenses, it will prove that he still can be effective in such a system.
Stay Outspoken and Positive
Tebow’s success last season completely defied the conventional wisdom about NFL quarterbacks.
He put up abysmal passing statistics during a season in which other quarterbacks were shattering records, but he still managed to lead his team to the playoffs.
While his ability to run and,the Broncos’ defense had significant roles in the team’s success, Tebow was able to motivate his team to elevate its level of play.
He is a consummate professional and a fantastic leader, and these are qualities that will cause the Jets coaching staff to give him the job if the team loses several games in a row.
The Jets' starting quarterback job is Sanchez’s to lose more than it is Tebow’s to win.
After an excellent performance against the Buffalo Bills, Sanchez has looked too much like he did in previous seasons. He completed just 37 percent of his passes against the Pittsburgh Steelers and only 46.7 percent against the Dolphins, in addition to tossing two interceptions.
With each game, the realization that Sanchez may be nothing more than a mediocre quarterback becomes more clear. In the past, he did an excellent job of coming through in big games and allowing the team’s elite defense to win games.
But now, the Jets defense looks vulnerable without Darrelle Revis, and if Sanchez has failed to make marked improvement, the team will be searching for a spark. As Tebow proved in Denver, he can certainly light a fire under a struggling team.