The clock has struck midnight on Tebow time.
Starting quarterback Mark Sanchez is not the lone source of the problems for the New York Jets offense, and Rex Ryan has already said that Sanchez is going to remain the starting quarterback going forward.
That means that Tim Tebow's role will remain what it is, despite how ineffective that role has been for the Jets.
Given that, if they're not going to start Tebow, they should cut him.
This seems rather obvious.
The Jets season is spiraling out of control. Tebow has not been effective in his roles, save for some token 4th-and-short conversions on “fake” punts that a blind man could have seen coming if he were facing the other way.
Personal punt protector, first-down option running quarterback, wide receiver, none of it has worked.
And that's not entirely his fault.
He isn't the one who didn't have a plan for how he would be used—that's the coaching staff.
"I think we'll take a hard look at how we're using him," Jets head coach Rex Ryan said (via NJ.com), "'is there other things we can do with him?' I think you're absolutely right we'll be [looking into] that."
So they'll look into expanding his role further, but how much will they really be able to accomplish in that regard over the bye week? They didn't succeed in developing his role despite a full offseason to find it and install the necessary components to the offense.
After months of hype this offseason, in which time Rex Ryan alluded that Tebow could play as many as 20 snaps per game, he has played just 55 offensive snaps, accounting for 9.9 percent of the team's total according to ProFootballFocus.com.
Maybe with a clear plan, things could have been different. Instead, he's been given several small roles where he has been used inconsistently.
Either way, he's not been serviceable in the roles they've given him, and they haven't shown an great deal of effort to even use him in those roles, much less to even find effective roles for him.
Here's just a small sampling of the dubious decisions with Tebow:
- They left him on the bench on 3rd-and-2 from the Patriots 3-yard line with a chance to take the lead at the beginning of the second half, but brought him in on 1st-and-10 at the Patriots. 18-yard line and have him run right up the gut for two yards with under two minutes to go in a tie game.
- They ran him up the middle against the Texans defense and he picked up 13 yards down to the Texans 3-yard line, and after a run was stopped for no gain, they pulled him out and threw two passes from the goal line, both of which fell incomplete.
- They had him run a wide option and he was tackled for a big loss. Sanchez threw an interception on the next play.
There have been some successful plays for Tebow:
- A 23-yard pass to linebacker Nick Bellore on a fake punt.
- A 22-yard run against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
- Three conversions on the aforementioned "fake" punt runs up the gut.
But is that really enough to justify the roster spot? If the Jets aren't even going to consistently use Tebow in the situations he was brought in for, why keep him?
Tebow is like a caged animal at a circus. The Jets are holding him hostage because people want to see him, but they won't let him out.
It's wildly unfair to hang onto him here when the Jets have shown little desire to use him. Tebow deserves a chance to play for a team that actually wants him on the football field. There's got to be at least one out there.
The only way his role expands beyond its current status is with an injury to Sanchez. He's proven his toughness by taking a beating this year (21 quarterback hits, 18 sacks, pressured on 31.2 percent of drop-backs), but one hit is all it takes.
That is not meant to wish ill upon Sanchez, but only to illustrate how minimal Tebow's chances are of making it onto the field in a greater capacity than what we've seen thus far.
Their misuse of Tebow has resulted directly in his ineffectiveness, and that has never been more apparent than it was on Sunday.
How much sense does it make to have him line up at wide receiver? Running the ball behind him at wide receiver on runs to the outside would make sense, especially since it seems like the Jets want to get more out of him in blocking roles, but he will never create a mismatch in the passing game when running routes, and having him do so puts the offense at a 9-to-11 numbers disadvantage.
Doomed from the start.
When he lined up as the personal punt protector, Dolphins defensive back Jimmy Wilson ran right around him and broke through the line to block a punt, which was recovered by Dolphins linebacker Olivier Vernon for a touchdown.
He has run 23 times for 78 yards this year (3.4 YPA), consistently putting the offense into bad down-and-distance situations and killing any momentum the offense has built up to that point.
The problems with the offense go well beyond Sanchez (you can thank Mike Tannenbaum for that), so it's easy to see that making a switch at quarterback is not the answer, but such a change would also be sending a message that either the season is over, or that the team expects drastic improvement from the offense with the change at quarterback.
Could any quarterback drastically improve an offense that looks like this:
- The Jets rank 21st in Cold Hard Football Facts Offensive Hog Index (measures rush yards per attempt, negative pass play percentage and third down conversion percentage), and their 19 sacks are the 10th-most in the NFL. According to Advanced NFL Stats, their offensive line win probability added is the fifth-lowest in the NFL, and their pass WPA is the worst.
- The Jets have dropped 15 passes this season, the 15th-highest total in the NFL, and their average of 6.4 yards per pass attempt ranks 28th.
- The Jets have 24 pass plays of 20 yards or more, with six of them coming against the hapless Patriots defense.
- Shonn Greene ranks 47th out of 50 running backs in ProFootballFocus.com's elusive rating, and ranks 34th out of 46 running backs in breakaway percentage.
Tebow is like Sanchez, in that by himself, he cannot change the trajectory of a season that seems to be spiraling out of control at the midway point.
Ironically, that trajectory was set in motion by Tebow himself, when the University of Florida legend allowed Eastern Montana 2011 seventh-round pick Jimmy Wilson to get through the line untouched for a punt block, which was scooped up by linebacker Olivier Vernon for a touchdown that took the wind out of the Jets' turbines.
Even after that dreadful loss, the season is far from over for the Jets, who have a favorable schedule to finish the season. Besides the New England Patriots in Week 12, the schedule is loaded with winnable games.
Making that change is about more than pulling one guy in favor of another, it's about setting the tone for the remainder of the season. That move says “barring a miracle, our season is over.”
From an X's and O's standpoint, changing the offensive philosophy at the drop of a hat looked really easy last year when Mike McCoy and the Broncos successfully accomplished that feat during Tebow's magical run. With an unimaginative play-caller in Tony Sparano, though, it's hard to imagine the magic returning.
Rex Ryan pointed to it in the press conference, but with scrutiny of Sanchez at an all-time high, his comments were shrugged off as more defense of the Sanchize.
"Offensively the problems aren't one man, if it were one man that's easy to do," Ryan said (via NJ.com).
He's absolutely right. One player is not the problem, and one player will not fix the ails of the team.
Especially not one player whose last meaningful snaps at quarterback came over nine months ago in a 45-10 drubbing in which said quarterback went 9-of-26 passing for 136 yards, five carries for 13 yards and a fumble on the game's opening drive.
Sometimes, though, it's worth it to take a shot and see what you have in the next guy on the depth chart, but if the Jets aren't going to do that, they've already proven this other experiment to be an utter failure.
Why keep trying?
Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless specified otherwise, all quotes are obtained firsthand.