Coming into Week 7's contest against the New England Patriots, it's time for New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan to make a definitive decision: Does Tim Tebow start, or does he get banished to the bench for good?
That question has been bandied about ever since the third-year quarterback arrived in the Big Apple but now demands an answer due to the state of the Jets season.
At 3-3, the team is both in first place and last place in a deadlocked AFC East. It's likely that the result of Sunday's game will directly determine the path the Jets take in 2012 and whether they are led by Tebow or Mark Sanchez.
For now, Sanchez is the guy. However, he's been so undercut by the continued use of Tebow that it's almost impossible to fault him for his poor play.
As for how the team has done with Tebow, there are an infinite amount of descriptive adjectives you could use. Absurd, foolish and asinine are my personal favorites. One adjective you cannot use: effective.
Through six games, Tebow has recorded official statistics (meaning a pass attempt or run attempt) on 21 plays. Of those plays, New York has gained 10 or more yards just twice.
That should tell you all you need to know about the team's misuse of its backup quarterback.
Nonetheless, the entire situation has turned into such a circus that Ryan even speculated about possibly using Tebow at running back on Sunday, according to ESPN New York's Jane McManus:
The thing about Tim, with him being a football player like we've always talked about, by playing quarterback he knows all the positions and so, can you plug him in at running back...Can you plug him in at tight end, whatever? I think the answer is yes.
While having running backs Joe McKnight and Bilal Powell out certainly hurts the Jets chances against the Patriots, the notion of playing Tebow at running back is mind-boggling.
Tebow's effectiveness in the ground game comes not from his quickness getting through the hole, but by being able to read the defense well out of the shotgun.
There's a reason most of Tebow's greatness last season came in the fourth quarter when coming from behind. It was because the Broncos spread out the field and allowed Tebow time (Get it? Anyone?) to make his reads and exploit holes in the defense.
Who should start at quarterback for the Jets?
By now, most evaluators have figured out that the former Florida star won't translate well into a traditional drop-back role. However, a concrete statement cannot be made on Tebow until a team adapts its system to his strengths.
That may never happen and supporters may always wonder what could have been. What Tebow is not is a running back, tight end or one-play specialist. For better or for worse, he's a quarterback. If Ryan is going to insist on using his prized acquisition, he needs to bench Sanchez and see what he actually has in Tebow.
On the other hand, if Ryan wants to stick with Sanchez behind center, he needs to make Tebow's only offensive contribution come as a clipboard holder.
As of right now, Tebow is simply an ineffective distraction that creates exponentially more headlines than big plays.
With a season-defining game coming up on Sunday, that's the last thing Ryan's team needs.