By GEORGE BRETHERTON
Don’t count the NFL Network’s Brian Baldinger as a fan of the Jets’ changes on offense.
One day after President Obama chimed in on the state of the Jets quarterback situation, Baldinger tried to best him (or undercut him, depending on how you look at it).
In an interview on Friday with WEEI sports radio in Boston, Baldinger declared the Patriots as this season’s default winner of the A.F.C. East. While some will not consider those views controversial, Baldinger added some acidic comments about the Jets’ newly installed offense. He focused on Tony Sparano, the new coordinator, and Tim Tebow, who was acquired in a trade with Denver.
“I think Bill Belichick and the Patriots, privately, were like doing a little golf clap when they signed Tim Tebow and they signed Tony Sparano,” Baldinger said. “I don’t know what offense Tony Sparano is going to unleash, but I saw what he did in Miami, it was a joke.
“They started like every year at basically 0-6.”
Never mind that the Dolphins won the A.F.C. East in 2008 in Sparano’s first season as the Dolphins’ coach — we’ll get to the fact-checking part of Baldinger’s rant in a minute. Let’s continue as he moved on to target Tebow, dismissing him as less of a threat than Brad Smith, who ran the Jets’ Wildcat packages in 2009 and 2010 before he signed with Buffalo last year.
Baldinger said: “If you think you are just going to throw Tim Tebow on the field and you’re of going to surprise people, you’re not going to surprise anybody. Brad Smith could give you an element of surprise when he was there. Brad Smith could line up at wide receiver and he was a legitimate threat.
“I don’t think anybody is going to fear Tim Tebow coming on the field and go, ‘Oh my God, what are we going to do in short yardage now with Tim Tebow?’ You know what you’re going to do. He’s not a good thrower. I don’t think he’s ever going to be a good thrower. He’s 260 pounds now.
“Fullbacks aren’t good passers, and that’s what Tim Tebow is.”
It is impossible to fact-check Baldinger’s crystal ball. That will have to wait. But we can put a spotlight on his statements regarding Sparano’s record in Miami and regarding Tebow.
1) The only season the Dolphins started 0-6 was in 2011, Sparano’s last in Miami.
2) In 2008, the Dolphins’ offense committed an N.F.L.-low 13 turnovers as Miami won 11 of its final 14 games to win the A.F.C. East. The 13 turnovers set the N.F.L. record for the fewest in a 16-game season (the Giants also committed 13 in 2008), which has since been broken. The new record is 10, set by New England in 2010 and equalled by San Francisco last season.
3) Baldinger seems to have forgotten the praise he heaped on Tebow for his play in the closing minutes of Denver’s 18-15 victory last season over Sparano’s Dolphins.
You can watch that clip here, courtesy of NFL.com
4) In two seasons in the N.F.L., Tebow has rushed for more yards (887 to 854) and more touchdowns (12 to 3) than Brad Smith has in six seasons.
Extra Point Perhaps one can dismiss Baldinger’s comments as merely an attempt at attention-seeking. Or do you think he (and President Obama) have a point?