By Kristian Dyer
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Everything in the Jets’ 27-10 loss at Pittsburgh on Sunday afternoon screamed out for Tim Tebow – everything including the Steelers fans who mocked the Jets late in the fourth quarter with cat calls for the Jets backup quarterback. The much-talked about Wildcat offense was on the field for just three snaps on Sunday with Tebow rushing once in the scheme for 22 yards, the biggest ground gain of the day for the Jets.
The game was lost not because starting quarterback Mark Sanchez was horrid – he was – but because the offense couldn’t move the ball effectively from midway through the second quarter to the end of the game. This falls on a subpar ground game, bad drops by the receivers and poor throws from Sanchez, all of which led to a staggering 13 minute discrepancy in time of possession.
What the game needed was an injection of Tebow – not as a replacement for Sanchez but to help move the ball down the field.
It’s not to say that Tebow should be the starter over Sanchez – he probably shouldn’t be right now – or that he’s the answer to the Jets woes on offense – there’s more issues with the offense than can be addressed with the Wildcat. But Tebow was brought in to run a specific offense and it was one that was tailor made for this game and could have helped actually move the ball. To have him utilized for just three plays is absurd.
After orchestrating a 90-yard touchdown drive on their opening series, Sanchez was just 6-for-21 for just 68 yards for the remainder of the game. The offense clearly wasn’t moving the ball and the Jets decision to not utilize the Wildcat beyond a brief cameo is a large reason why they lost the game.
Outside of the three Wildcat plays which combined to generate 28 yards, the Jets rushed the ball 19 times for just 3.26 yards per carry. Head coach Rex Ryan claimed that his team “needed big plays” and abandoned the Wildcat for more passing – but the game was never really out of reach until late in the fourth quarter and there’s no way that the Wildcat could have been worse than Sanchez’s passing.
What Tebow provides the Jets with is something unpredictable, and he doesn’t offer that carrying a clipboard on the sidelines. Why the Jets would utilize the Wildcat just eight times in a Week 1 blowout loss against the Bills and then a scant three times on Sunday is beyond logic. Yes, Tebow was brought in as a backup but he was also brought in to utilize a unique skillset in an offense that can unsettle and rattle the opposition. Instead, it was the Jets offense that looked off-kilter against the Steelers.
After taking a tough second quarter hit where he was slow to get up, Sanchez was basically a shell of his first quarter form, looking out of sync with his receivers and taking the uncharacteristic risks that have made him a rather average quarterback in his first three years in the league. The insertion of Tebow into the game could have helped the Jets move the ball and perhaps help keep the Steelers offense off the field a bit longer.
Truth be told Tebow, who had a 46.5 completion percentage last year, could have done a better job of passing than Sanchez did outside of that first drive.
So why keep Tebow on the sidelines with a towel around his neck? Logic would dictate that this was a game perfectly made for the Wildcat and the Jets erred in hoping that Sanchez would get out of his funk and perform. He’s shown time and time again in his career that he can’t snap himself out of a slide and when things aren’t clicking, it will only get progressively worse.
The Tebow apologists will point to last year when the then Broncos quarterback threw for 316 yards and two touchdown against the Steelers in the Wild Card round, but that is neither here nor there. With the Jets he isn’t the starter but he still could have played his role in the Wildcat, especially as the offense failed to mount anything credible after halftime.
The time for Tebow was Sunday afternoon and instead he was underutilized. He may not have been the answer for the Jets to win this game but the failure to use him was part of the reason why they lost.
Kristian R. Dyer covers the Jets for Metro New York and contributes to Yahoo! Sports as well as WFAN. He can be followed on Twitter here.
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