A rough 1-4 stretch. A quarterback nobody can consistently count on to get the job done. A decimated defense, a paper thin receiving corps and a running back badly needing to salvage his career.
Does that sound familiar? It's the scenario that the New York Jets find themselves in this season. In order to salvage a chance at the postseason, it's time for Tim Tebow to take the reigns under center in the Big Apple.
Or rather, in the shotgun.
The dire straits the Jets are in the midst of are eerily similar to the circumstances the Denver Broncos were in to start last season—until one Tim Tebow was inserted as the starting QB. The second-year signal-caller—already adjusting on the fly to a new offensive system—keyed the team to an AFC West division title and subsequent playoff victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Here Tebow is, in his third system and his third year, with the understanding that he was going to be a project player as a first-round pick.
Has Tim Tebow gotten a legitimate chance to prove himself as a starting NFL QB?
Despite that alleged mutual understanding, anyone who's anyone has gotten on Tebow for his throwing mechanics, inaccuracy and general ineptitude as a conventional quarterback.
Can we just pump the brakes on that for a second, though? To reiterate, it was obvious that Tebow wasn't a polished pocket passer entering the NFL, and when has he had the opportunity to legitimately develop or even learn under a veteran?
Okay, so Tebow had a chance to sit for most of his rookie season. After giving the offense a decent spark in his first start, he went out and threw for over 300 yards in a comeback victory over the Houston Texans.
The last game against the Chargers was uneven, but had some promise to indicate that Tebow could thrive in the system designed by former head coach Josh McDaniels. Unfortunately for Tebow, McDaniels was fired, and the QB fell to the bottom of the Denver depth chart.
Continuing to get reps with a slew of subpar receivers and processing a new offense—which was also going to be a process for Tebow—made him struggle to get any traction in practice.
Once he was inserted for the 1-4 Broncos, though, that Tebow magic began happening in the fourth quarter of pretty much every week. His season was highlighted by the aforementioned playoff win versus the Steelers' No. 1 pass defense, which Tebow somehow threw for 316 yards against.
And here are the Jets, in a 1-4 slide and with a bye week to figure out how to get Tebow more involved in the offense. The answer, though, would be to just start him outright.
Is Mark Sanchez any better than Kyle Orton? Would anyone be willing to make that case?
As somewhat unfair as Orton's benching in Denver may have been, Tebow was still able to crack the lineup over him. Other than the unreasonably monstrous contract extension Sanchez just got, what is preventing the Jets from doing the same?
New York management seems stubbornly set to support Sanchez, who has admittedly played pretty well in the postseason. But the Jets have to get there first, and Tebow miraculously made it happen in Denver a year ago.
Considering Sanchez is the most inaccurate starting QB in football, there seems to not be much reason for Tebow not to get plugged in. Sure, all the problems of before will emerge: He hasn't been "the man" entering the season, has taken reps at QB with the 2s and is still an overall question mark as a passer.
The reason Rex Ryan brought in Tony Sparano as offensive coordinator was so that the Jets could be a run-first team. Sparano should be chief among any current coach in football to maximize Tebow's potential based on his skill set as it stands today.
It might sound crazy, and some may argue that lightnin' don't strike twice.
But with Tebow, anything but a conventional storyline has been the status quo. Newsday's Greg Logan documented what Tebow recently said about his current role:
Spot-playing is fun. You're in different roles. At the same time, it's hard to get a feel. Sometimes, there are a few plays on a drive, and then, it gets easier. Shoot, I just love playing period.
So let the kid play.