4:57PM EST October 2. 2012 - All sides of the argument have been tossed around the past few days in the New York market after a 34-0 loss to the San Francisco 49ers at home:
The Jets should start Tim Tebow now.
The Jets should use a little more Tebow going forward.
The Jets would be nuts to bench Mark Sanchez for a guy whose accuracy is worse.
Put us down as being a staunch supporter of that last statement.
Sanchez is 25 years old – twenty-five – and already has two AFC Championship Game appearances on his resume. The guy can play. A quarterback doesn't throw nine touchdowns to only three interceptions in the postseason -- the way he did in 2009 and '10 at the ages of 23 and 24, only to then forget how to play the game as he's heading into what should be the prime of his career.
No, that's a sign that what's surrounding him isn't fostering his growth as a player.
Mark Sanchez isn't screwing the Jets up. The Jets are screwing up Sanchez.
Allow us to count the ways.
Botched personnel decisions
Let's start with Sanchez's targets. From Derrick Mason to Plaxico Burress to Stephen Hill, Sanchez hasn't had a reliable No. 1 option opposite Santonio Holmes over the past two seasons. Jeremy Kerley shows signs of being a No. 3 option, but come on now. In this league, a team should have three solid options before the season begins.
The Jets barely had one in Holmes - the guy who threw a hissy fit in Miami and quit on his team. As much as that's an issue, we do realize what the guy brings on Sundays. So now that he's got a foot injury that could keep him out a long time, can you imagine how bad the passing game is going to be, even when injured tight end Dustin Keller returns?
Say goodnight to the Jets' chances.
And say hello to a high draft pick, which undoubtedly will tempt them to draft a quarterback. If general manager Mike Tannenbaum is still around to make that selection, he should realize he's on the clock because he hasn't done enough for Sanchez.
Lack of a running game
This is a continuation of the previous point about personnel decisions, because Shonn Greene just isn't getting it done. The offensive line in front of him isn't the league's best but it's certainly good enough to pave the way for more than 2.8 yards per carry.
That's Greene's average through four games. The lack of a running game isn't helping Sanchez. He was effective a few years ago while running play-action and bootleg schemes. If there isn't a running game for a defense to respect, fake handoffs and rollouts are just wasted motion.
First, the problem was former offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer's overly complex system. Now, it's Tony Sparano and the Wildcat. Looking for the Ground and Pound? Try the Lost and Found. The successful offenses have pass-heavy schemes with route-adjustment options that are difficult to keep in check for long. The Jets aren't adjusting to the trend that's developing all around them. If anything, they're trying to buck it. Big mistake.
Not that he's to blame. The poor guy is just trying to win one of only 32 jobs in existence. He's being a good sport and lining up at tight end, running back and wideout because, well, what other option does he have?
The problem is the sideshow and the debate that erupts as soon as Sanchez overthrows a couple of passes. Frankly, all of this "Start Tebow" stuff would've been here a week ago if the Miami Dolphins hadn't tossed away last Sunday's game via a few missed field goals and an unfortunate timeout that was intended to ice kicker Nick Folk but instead negated a blocked field goal.
Sanchez wasn't sharp in Miami and, much as we're supporting him here, he was worse against the Niners. (See the lack of touch on the screen pass that was batted and intercepted.)
But teh Jets knew they had a quarterback with a fragile psyche. Why did they create this circus around him?
The Tebow plan
We remain convinced there's a reason you've seen the Wildcat only in rare cases on Super Bowl Sundays: It's a gimmick, and gimmicks don't win championships, only occasional games. Sanchez needs to stay on the field from start to finish, both for rhythm and respect purposes.
Besides that, do the Jets even have a clear plan for Tebow? Doesn't appear so. Is he a receiver, a running threat, a blocker, a decoy? The answer is all of the above, which means it's none of the above.
Of course, there's the other role: Sanchez distraction.
It's unfair to Sanchez and unfair to the rest of the team. The Jets had the best of intentions and it's not a lack of effort that's the issue. But when this thing starts to spiral downward, as it appears it might, the Jets should remember to foster Sanchez's growth, not detract from it.
It's not too late.