Tim Tebow had his best game of the season Monday night.
The New York Jets have scored three offensive touchdowns in their last four games, which has resulted in a barrage of Tim Tebow talk. Rex Ryan and Tony Sparano have tried to implement Tebow in a variety of ways—as they promised would be the case—but none of their moves have significantly benefited the organization.
When Tebow excitedly joined the Jets, pundits were concerned with how his presence would impact “the psyche” of Sanchez. Will he feel insulted by Tebow taking away snaps? If Sanchez struggles, how will he handle people wishing Tebow would replace him?
It was these types of questions that compelled some to believe acquiring Tim Tebow was a mistake—disregard the direct on-field pros and cons.
I expressed my displeasure with Tebow commanding a near-monopoly on the sports world in this article back in August. At the conclusion of the piece, I conceded that the talk of everyone’s favorite back-up quarterback would only continue to grow.
And grow it has.
The recent surge of Tebowmania has been spawned by the least surprising thing to happen in the 2012 NFL season: Mark Sanchez has been abysmal. In fact, the only part that is surprising is how surprised everyone seems to be.
So, when people question if Tebow has negatively impacted Sanchez’s mentality, I wonder just what they were expecting from a quarterback who is yet to finish a season with a QBR of 50 or better.
There’s hardly any difference between Sanchez’s per-game averages of this year (48.4 comp-percentage, 208 yards/game, 1.2 touchdowns/game, 1.2 interceptions/game, 0.8 fumbles/game) and those of his first three years in the league (55 comp-percentage, 196 yards/game, 1.2 touchdowns/game, 1.1 interceptions/game, 0.6 fumbles/game).
The first step to properly utilizing Tebow is to forget this but-what-about-poor-Sanchez nonsense. Whether Sanchez’s continued struggles have anything to do with his backup is completely irrelevant. And beside, what does it say about a quarterback when a little competition is enough to knock him off his game (or whatever you call his play in his first three seasons)?
There are many ways the Jets can use Tebow, but none of them are as a player who comes in for five random plays per game designed to get a few yards and keep Sanchez content.
Inserting Tebow for single plays has been clunky and counterproductive. How many times has New York been charged with a delay of game, had too many men in the huddle, burned unnecessary timeouts and rushed plays without making pre-snap adjustments?
If Ryan wishes to further postpone the quarterback switch, he must give Tebow a full drive rather than bits and pieces of one. Assessing whether Tebow can command the offense would be an inevitable, albeit secondary outcome.
This means sticking with Tebow in the red zone, where his value is at its highest.
The only explanation for the current method is that the Jets are concerned with appeasing Sanchez. I wonder if New England bases its decisions around such a premise.
Another frustrating element of Tebow’s implementation is that he has been used as a runner, rather than a quarterback. He’s thrown two passes thus far. One went for nine yards, and another would have been a long gainer were it not for a drop.
What other way should the Jets use Tim Tebow?
Forget the “Wildcat” (fat house-cat is probably more fitting). Seriously. Just because the Jets cannot defend it does not mean there’s a single other team in the league with such a plight.
Tebow already has one of the slowest releases in football, so why exacerbate this with a lengthy fake handoff from the shotgun on every play? There is always the threat of the run with Tebow in the backfield, which makes incessant play-action overkill. Let him drop back and have time to scan the field without worrying about whether he should give up the ball. Use the option as a changeup, not a mandate.
The ultimate answer, though, with regard to how the Jets can utilize Tim Tebow, is to make him the starter.
Some say he will be able to salvage the season a la Denver in 2011. I’m not willing to go so far.
Why, then, should he be the starter? The answer is simple: Why not?
Keeping in mind the condition described earlier (no move should be made based on Sanchez’s feelings), there is really nothing New York stands to lose. The worst thing that could possibly happen is the Jets realize Tebow is just as hapless as the Sanchize and the team continues its losing ways, regardless of who is under center.
In fairness to Sanchez, three of the Jets’ last four games have come against top 10 teams. I’ll buy giving Sanchez one more start against Indianapolis, so long as Tebow sees action beyond a “personal protector,” decoy or glorified running back.
However, if Andrew Luck outshines Sanchez, the Jets must pull the trigger and go with a quarterback whose throwing motion takes about as long it took the Jets to settle on him.