Tim Tebow: Jets Must Make Franchise-Changing Decision to Start or Trade QB

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistOctober 29, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 14:  Tim Tebow #15 of the New York Jets runs from the field against the Indianapolis Colts at MetLife Stadium on October 14, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

The New York Jets have refused to make Tim Tebow the starting quarterback despite continued struggles from Mark Sanchez. As the team heads into its bye week, it should make the tough decision to either start him or trade him.

Tebow's snaps have remained limited in recent weeks, which has actually been the right decision. Unless he's going to serve as the full-time starter, there's no reason to give him extensive playing time. Splitting snaps at the most crucial position would be a mistake.

It looked like the situation was going to work itself out after Week 1 when Sanchez tore apart a supposedly improved Buffalo Bills defense, but it turned out the unit was overrated and Sanchez has been unable the replicate that performance since.

At the midway point, he's averaging 217 yards per game with 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions while completing 53 percent of his passes. It equates to a quarterback rating of 73, right in line with his subpar career average.

The Jets coaching staff knows exactly what it has in Sanchez by now. He's an inconsistent quarterback incapable of carrying an offense on his back. Unless a team has an elite defense and strong running game, which the Jets did for awhile, Sanchez isn't the answer.

That's why the bye week comes at an ideal time for the fading team. It gives the front office and head coach Rex Ryan time to weigh all their options before the trade deadline on Tuesday.

Keeping Tebow on the roster only to serve as a gimmick quarterback and punt protector would be the worst possible decision because it means the major distraction he causes in that role will continue for the rest of the season.

If the Jets don't have enough confidence in him to start under center, it doesn't make any sense to keep him as the backup. Let Greg McElroy fill that role if that's the case.

Should the upper-level discussion reach that point, the Jets should trade Tebow before the deadline. It would eliminate the distraction that looms above the team like a dark cloud and New York would at least get some return on its investment.

Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reports the team still has no plans to deal him, a stance it's held for quite some time.

The other option would be starting him coming out of the bye week. The hope would be he provides the same spark to the Jets that he did as a member of the Denver Broncos last season.

It wasn't always pretty, but more often than not Tebow helped the Broncos to victory. That included a playoff triumph over the Pittsburgh Steelers when few people thought they had a prayer of knocking off one of the AFC's top teams.

Putting Tebow in that position would obviously lead to some changes on offense. It would force the unit to become more run-oriented, but change is necessary after watching Sanchez return to his usual form over the past few months.

It's hard to imagine heading into another season with Sanchez as the team's starting quarterback. Although he's not the only problem the team has on offense, he's certainly played a major role in the unit's inability to move the ball consistently.

Knowing that, making the quarterback switch doesn't really have much risk involved. The Jets are already trending in the wrong direction, losing four of their last five, and the position will have to get addressed in the offseason anyway.

It's worth a shot in an attempt to jump-start a charge in the season's second half. New York has a favorable schedule down the stretch, but maintaining the status quo will only lead to further disappointment for the team and its fanbase.

Tebow might not be the answer for the Jets, but they won't know for sure until they give him a chance. Sanchez has received plenty of chances and has failed to capitalize on them.

The Jets have a couple days to make a decision. If the trade deadline passes without a Tebow trade or role change, it will be a missed opportunity for a team that can't afford to stay on its current track.