Will Rex Ryan's Treatment of Tim Tebow Cost Him His Job?

Zach KruseSenior Analyst IDecember 19, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 14:  Head coach of the New York Jets, Rex Ryan talks with Tim Tebow #15 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 are going to finish this season with no more than seven wins and likely as many as 10 losses. 

Given the talent base on the green side of New York, a finish in the middle of the pack of the NFL was much more likely than a playoff appearance or 3-13 season. Given the presence of a normal team environment, maybe Rex Ryan would keep his job as the Jets head coach, build during the offseason and then take one last shot at turning around this team in 2013.

However, this isn't a normal season, Ryan shouldn't keep his job and the Jets now need to be purged clean of each man leading this franchise. 

Ryan can blame each of those realities on his treatment of Tim Tebow—from the beginning of the relationship to the brutal, nasty end that is quickly approaching.

The Jets have always had a circus feel under Ryan. It was a controlled craziness that somehow put New York on the doorstep of the Super Bowl in back-to-back seasons. For better or worse, pushing the line between beneficial and haphazard has been a staple of Ryan's locker rooms. 

Adding Tebow to the explosive mix and then completely mismanaging the entire situation was the giant push that should send Ryan's tenure in New York over the cliff. 

The mess began with trading for Tebow, flaunting him as some kind of new toy and then allowing him to rot on the bench while the Jets got another forgettable season from Mark Sanchez. The move to get Tebow proved to be nothing more than a gimmick, an attempt to sell tickets and make headlines week after week in the country's biggest sports market. 

Motivation aside, the trade for Tebow backfired. His presence all but doomed Sanchez, who—after taking some tiny steps forward in his career—regressed into arguably the worst starting quarterback in the NFL this season.  

Sanchez hit rock bottom on Monday night in Tennessee, throwing four interceptions and fumbling away New York's last chance at making the postseason after the Titans put the game on a silver platter. It was as poor a quarterbacking performance as we've seen in the NFL in 2012.

With 50 turnovers in two seasons, Ryan finally pulled the plug on Sanchez. The former No. 5 overall pick now has as cloudy a future as Ryan does as the head coach. 

Ryan isn't giving a meaningless start against the San Diego Chargers on Sunday to Tebow, the Jets backup quarterback. Instead, Ryan is giving it to Greg McElroy, who did very little in a 7-6 win over the Arizona Cardinals and may never be anything more than a clipboard holder in the NFL. 

The decision was the strongest sign yet that Ryan never had any intention to allow Tebow a place on the Jets besides protecting for the punter. 

No matter how these next two games play out for the Jets—win big, lose big—the futures of Ryan, Tebow, Sanchez and general manager Mike Tannenbaum are very much in jeopardy. 

When it's all said and done, we may look back on the entire situation and see Ryan's handling of Tebow as the linchpin to the entire implosion. 

Trading for Tebow slowly eroded what was left of Sanchez's confidence. As Sanchez continued to regress, so did the Jets' ability to win football games. Allowing Tebow to sit idly on the bench while the whole thing collapsed in on itself now has Tebow's NFL career in the balance. 

Ryan's handling of Tebow sent ripple effects far and wide, but the only one that should matter is his exit from the high chair in New York. For better or worse, he's earned it.