New York Jets: Why Sticking with Mark Sanchez Is the Only Way to Salvage Season

Ryan AlfieriCorrespondent IIIOctober 9, 2012

Oct. 8, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets backup quarterback Tim Tebow (15) high fives quarterback Mark Sanchez (6) during the game against the Houston Texans at MetLife Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Andrew Mills/THE STAR-LEDGER via US PRESSWIRE
The Star-Ledger-US PRESSWIRE

The Jets are 2-3, have only scored seven touchdowns in five weeks and are without any real receiving threats to compliment a non-existent running game.

It must be Tebow Time, right?


The easy answer to the Jets recent struggles would be to put in the backup quarterback, especially when that quarterback has been showering in praise for being a "winner," whatever that means.

Just think about that logic for a second: there are some real, quality football minds out there that truly believe that qualities as tangible as magic can save the Jets. Some day, we are all going to look back and laugh at the fact that some smart football people (which rules out Skip Bayless) actually believed that Tebow was magical and could win games because he tries hard and wants to win.

Newsflash: everyone in the NFL tries hard and wants to win. They would not be in the NFL if they didn't. If they don't, they'll find their way out soon enough. 

To be fair, there is something to having confidence in crucial parts of games and having the right mentality in the middle of a play. Tebow has those qualities and can help the Jets offense, but he is just a part of the solution, not the entire answer. 

The truth is, Sanchez does little things that average fans do not care to notice that make huge differences in the game that Tebow is simply not able to do. Sanchez has timing and rhythm to his play, as most NFL quarterbacks do. He can look off safeties and release the ball fast enough to catch defensive backs off guard, to name a few. 

Sanchez may have his share of flaws, but unlike Tebow, he plays within structure of an NFL-caliber passing offense (albeit on the lower-end of the spectrum or aerial attacks). He has the throwing ability to make enough plays to give their team a chance to win every Sunday.

Tebow may have the "killer instinct" and get excited when he makes a first down, but his sporadic periods of success is simply not sustainable. Yes, he was able to do just barely enough to get the Broncos to back into the playoffs last year, but few remember the all of the yards that were left on the field because of Tebow's inability as a passer. 

When you bench a starting quarterback, it should be because the quarterback is holding the team back, not because the team is not talented enough to give the starter a chance to win. Sanchez is not playing lights-out by any means, but it is foolish to assume that he is the only problem on the team. The Jets trot out the single worst set of skill position players, due to injury and/or lack of depth, every week.

By nature, fans are always looking for the "quick fix." At this point, a good portion of Jets fans want to see Tebow simply because they are bored and tired of seeing Sanchez every week. That may work in Madden, but being ADD with the quarterback situation is a great way to kill any continuity and direction your team has. 

Just like Tebow, Sanchez has his limitations. Besides being able to throw on the run rather well, he does not have any unique arm talents that he can develop, which is why we have seen minimal growth from him since he was drafted. His accuracy issues have not gone away, and his average arm strength is still average. He has gotten better with his decision-making, but he still makes the occasional facepalm-inducing play from time to time. 

The Jets, including Rex Ryan, know this—which is exactly why they (tried to) revert to their "ground and pound" offense to take pressure of Sanchez and get back to being the team in 2010 that could win in any fashion. 

Problem is, the 2010 roster was infinitely more talented, particularly on offense, than this year's team. Throw in an inordinate amount of injuries to key starters and the Jets are trotting out a JV team compared to what they used to have.

Sanchez is playing about as well as he was in 2010, but the team's talent level waters-down Mark's performance. Great quarterbacks like can hide deficiencies on their team, just has how Peyton Manning's quick decision-making hid a bad offensive line in Indianapolis for years. Sanchez is simply not at that level—he is only going to be as good as the players around him. 

To start Tebow would assume that Tebow will raise the performance level of the players around him, which is simply not a realistic expectation of him. 

Can Tebow be an inspirational figure with his big runs and emotion? Sure. But what does he do to hide the Jets offensive decencies? He may be able to slow down some pass rushers with his running threat, but protection has not been the issue for the Jets.

Lack of talent at the skill positions is what is holding back the Jets, and inserting Tebow into the lineup in anything more than a complimentary role only exacerbates the situation. 

We look at the 2011 Broncos as a smashing success because they made the playoffs after a dreadful start, but it was not all songbirds and sunshine for every member of that team. Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas knows first-hand what it is like to go through an entire season with Tebow under center:

You gotta go back and look at the rest of the games. I wasn’t getting no balls and you had to make some of these plays where some players were open and he is not making the throws.

Plus, Tebow's insertion could only further divide a locker room that is fragile after last season's debacle. Thomas continues:

"Everything on ESPN was all about Tim,” Thomas said. “That bothered some players, too, because they would say ‘Tim Tebow Time.’ I felt like it was a team thing. If it wasn’t for the defense, most of the time there wouldn’t be no supposed ‘Tim Tebow Time."

In the end, the contrast in what Tebow and Sanchez tangibly bring to the field is all that matters. For a team that needs all of the talent it can get to get its passing offense on track, what sense does it make to bench their best thrower for a glorified fullback? 

Sanchez may not be the long-term answer, but he's the Jets best quarterback by a wide margin, no matter how you spin it. 

The Jets must ignore the senseless calls for Tebow and use real football thinking, not theories of "magic" and "destiny" to figure out how to score more points and win games. 

Which, although, I thought was a given.