By Kristian Dyer
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It has to be “Tebow Time” sooner rather than later.
Tim Tebow is many things, from motivational speaker to spokesman to being the most recognizable athlete in the United States and a lightning rod for criticism. He is unorthodox and uncharacteristic in how he plays, his mechanics this year improving but still a bit baffling. He doesn’t always make the simple throws and his career completion percentage is lower than Mitt Romney’s national polling number last Tuesday.
But Tebow is one thing that the Jets aren’t right now: He’s a winner.
An afternoon that saw Sanchez go 9 of 22 for 124 yards should be enough to spell the end of his time as Jets starting quarterback in 2012. Tebow is the only prayer the Jets have this season of making the playoffs.
The time has come for the Jets to consider benching Sanchez or at least curtailing his role, another subpar performance on Sunday in his team’s 28-7 loss at Seattle being a major setback in a season that was supposed to see the Jets return to the playoffs. Instead, New York is now 3-6 and has lost five of their last six games, with Sanchez only netting two reasonably good performances in that stretch. He was taken as the No. 5 overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft, but this year, Sanchez isn’t playing like a difference maker.
Instead he’s just part of the problem. Which means it has to be time for Tebow. There are flaws to Tebow’s game for sure but right now the Jets possibly can’t do any worse.
There was Sanchez on Sunday just six yards from the end zone, throwing in an interception early in the second quarter. Sanchez dropped back, and after two pump fakes in the direction of Dustin Keller had drawn in Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman, he inexplicably threw in that direction and Sherman was in prime position to make the pick on the play. It is the new norm for Sanchez, who has become a liability near the end zone as the pick by Sherman represents the Jets fourth red zone interception this season. He is nowhere near clutch anymore, a far cry from the player who, early in his career, seemed to get better as the game wore on. He was a player who thrived come the postseason.
But now Sanchez is a shell of that clutch player, someone who clearly has seen his confidence rattled and appears hollow under center. There is no poise, no belief in himself or his wide receivers in him. The decision to bench Sanchez has as much to do with the Jets current starting quarterback bringing nothing to the field as much as it has to do with what Tebow offers.
Tebow brings something to the table, an impromptu ability to take off and get yardage when things aren’t open down the field. His critics say he can’t throw the ball but on Sunday, Tebow completed all three of his attempts showing at least something – even if those three completions combined for just eight yards. He made the throws he needed to make and he’s shown a maturation under center this season in his limited glimpses.
More than anything, what Tebow brings at this point is that he isn’t Sanchez.
Last year, Tebow had just a 46.5 completion percentage, among the worst in the NFL and pointed to by many detractors as proof that he can’t be an NFL quarterback. Sunday afternoon at CenturyLink Field, Sanchez had a 40.9 completion percentage, the fifth time in nine games this season that his numbers were below Tebow’s 46.5 percent from last year. And while head coach Rex Ryan can cling to the podium after the game and state his belief that Sanchez gives the Jets the “best chance to win,” that is clearly not the case anymore.
Despite the fact that Sanchez led the Jets to consecutive AFC Championship games in his first two seasons in the league, he isn’t that winner anymore. Since Nov. 13 of last year, nearly a year to the day, Sanchez is 6-11 as the Jets starting quarterback.
Simply, that isn’t good enough and Tebow can do better. After all, he put up better numbers a year ago in Denver with a lot less talent around him on offense than Sanchez has in his unit and unlike Sanchez, Tebow’s confidence isn’t likely to be shot. He has proven he can win in this league, even if his playing style and fundamentals continue to confuse and confound.
It’s time for Ryan and the Jets to embrace a Tebow miracle. It is their only chance at redeeming the season.
Kristian R. Dyer covers the Jets for Metro New York. He can be followed on Twitter for news, insight, snarky comments and breaking Jets news @KristianRDyer.
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