Liberated from his title of special teams coordinator for the Jets, Mike Westhoff was free to be candid in the wake of a disappointing and at times comical 6-10 season.
Westhoff, in his first few weeks of retirement, gave an interview to the Joe Rose Show on 560 WQAM in Miami on Friday morning and was critical of the way the Jets managed the salary cap, starting quarterback Mark Sanchez's ability to shoulder an offense and, most pointedly, Tim Tebow's baffling role in the offense.
"It was a mess," Westhoff said of the Tebow situation. "It was an absolute mess. You can say whatever else you want, it was really a mess. I was very, very disappointed. There are things that Tim Tebow as an NFL quarterback, he's very limited in some things. If you throw him in the middle of a drop-back passing offense, he will look very, very average at best. But if you incorporate him in different facets of your offense, I think he can be a factor. That's what I thought we were going to do, but we never did it."
Westhoff said there were some legitimate questions after a season in which Ryan and one-term offensive coordinator Tony Sparano failed to incorporate Tebow into the scheme with any success. Westhoff worked with Tebow as a punt protector, a role that went full time when safety Eric Smith was injured, and was impressed with Tebow's work ethic and skills.
Westhoff envisioned Tebow would be used as a combination tight end/halfback/fullback/quarterback and was dismayed to see that his largest role was essentially on special teams after his ribs were fractured in Seattle on Nov. 11. So what happened to the secret offense that was supposed to be so innovative?
"To be honest I don't think anyone ever answered that question, 'Why did we do it?' " Westhoff said. "I honestly don't know. I know we didn't practice it, we didn't practice it in training camp. We were going to unveil it. Well, I'm still waiting for the unveiling. And it didn't happen."
Now, Tebow is under contract to the Jets, his future in doubt until a new general manager and offensive coordinator are hired. The one other team to express interest in Tebow last season, the Jaguars, are no longer interested. After a year with the Jets, Tebow finds his prospects to start in the NFL are dim.
"It was a distraction, and really a shame because that's a hard working young man," Westhoff said.
As for starting quarterback Sanchez, Westoff expressed doubts that he could be the kind of talent that shoulders the burden for an imperfectly designed offense. The first two years of his career, when the Jets went to the AFC Championship Game twice, were the result of an all-around good team, Westhoff said.
"[Sanchez was the] manageable part of a good football team," Westhoff said. " ... Then all of a sudden the burden was thrust on Mark and that's just too much for him, in my opinion. Also, I think the whole offense needs to be designed around Mark, and you can say that it was, but there are just some things he doesn't do as well."
Westhoff also critiqued the way the Jets' personnel was put together, a task that fell to fired general manager Mike Tannenbaum.
"So much of the money is directed at the very top," Westhoff said. "Sometimes if you don't budget your team well you can destroy the middle and the bottom of your football team. And that's what happened to us. It happened. It's tough, if you're playing a handful of guys [that are] 40 percent of your salary cap, what the hell are you going to do with the rest of them?"
Westhoff even took a swipe at the defense, even though he praised defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, who was hired this week by the Bills.
"I want to stop teams in the top 10, not the bottom 5," Westhoff said when discussing the unit.
In the short term, Westhoff is shopping for a broadcast-style job that would allow him to discuss special teams the way that other analysts take on quarterbacks. When asked if he would ever coach again in the NFL, Westhoff did not hedge.
"There's a possibility, sure," Westhoff said.
About the only subject that he didn't tackle was the tattoo on Rex Ryan's arm that a snooping photographer produced for the world. The photo was taken while Ryan was poolside in the Bahamas last week.
"We all probably have quirky things we don't want the world to know," Westhoff said.