By Jeff Capellini, WFAN.com
NEW YORK (WFAN) — While my colleagues at WFAN and most, if not all, of the members of the media across the country are correct in demanding that Mark Sanchez sit and someone assume the starting quarterback role with the Jets, there really is no point of making a federal case out of that someone being Tim Tebow.
The Jets are a disaster, and no one change at any position, including quarterback, regardless if the player getting the call is as potentially dynamic as Tebow, will matter.
These are the dark times and there’s little anyone can do in the short term to get this team back to being what it once was.
Please stop talking about how supposedly “favorable” the schedule appears. For any of the remaining seven games, of which the Jets would likely have to win six to make the playoffs, to be viewed as “winnable,” you’d first have to make an argument — and a strong one at that — that the Jets are actually better than anyone they will play.
Seriously, which of St. Louis, New England, Arizona, Jacksonville, Tennessee, San Diego and Buffalo are the Jets really better than? Which of those teams can you say with confidence the Jets “will” beat? Now, I realize we’re talking about some of the worst teams in the NFL here, but, really, when are the true optimists going to realize the Jets are as bad as bad gets?
This team needs to be completely rebuilt, something that actually started this past offseason, though the powers that be lied to the public about their true intentions, instead preaching playoffs with a roster that would inevitably be exploited. They operated under the guise of assuming their fans were stupid and only ownership and likely an unwilling coaching staff were the smart ones in the room. They somehow figured the fan base would accept their bait and switch because Rex Ryan had once taken a fairly talented team to a pair of conference championship games.
Well, that little ruse is over now. The Jets have no more vacations to sell. Nobody will open that piece of mail that claims that they’ve won a prize, even if Ed McMahon’s face has been replaced by Woody Johnson’s.
Now, rebuilding the Jets will not be this Herculean task. Yes, it will take a little time, but with the way the NFL is these days with parity, free agency and a seemingly watered down college talent pool to divvy up between 32 teams, this team can muddle along in mediocrity for a few more years and at least give the illusion of being competitive, while all the while getting younger and, eventually, better.
Don’t expect the Jets to ever suffer through 1-15 again, but get ready for some pretty poor records going forward.
But this piece today is not so much about how to fix the Jets as it is to create a movement on behalf of Tebow. If you want to call it the “Free Tebow Campaign 2012,” by all means do so, because this guy is stuck in a prison with absolutely no chance of parole.
And it’s not like he even committed a crime in the first place to land himself behind these green and white bars.
I know I’ve written this a lot and screamed about it on Twitter even more, but it bears repeating so, please, hear me out yet again. The Jets never had any intention of starting Tebow as a traditional quarterback while Sanchez still had a pulse. And while it’s clear to most everyone now that Sanchez has basically used up the last of his lifelines, the Jets are and shall remain, at least for a little while, one of the worst game shows on television.
This is not to say Tebow is even a good quarterback. That debate has been raging for quite some time, with one side pointing out his obvious shortcomings with mechanics and accuracy and the other just believing because he did it in Denver, he can do it here. What isn’t open to debate is Tebow is a winning quarterback, even if his resume doesn’t scream a ton of experience and his actual play shows he’s about as unorthodox as they come. We all know how ugly his throws are. We all know if we’re looking for a quarterback that will complete even 50 percent of his passes we’re probably better off sticking with Sanchez, albeit by a hair.
But what we don’t know is if “Tebow Time” can work here because the Jets flat out refuse to even give the guy a chance. They have not even considered playing him in the hope he provides a spark. Most any other team in the NFL would have at least sat their quarterback down for a series or a quarter or a half if he had performed as poorly as Sanchez has this season. The Jets? Of course not. And the reasons for that, in my opinion, show just how distrustful this organization is.
Initially, I gave the Jets the benefit of the doubt, assuming they traded for Tebow to use him as the ultimate weapon. I never once thought he’d be the starter, but I figured, with the hiring of Tony Sparano, the so-called “godfather” of the wildcat, they would have figured out a way to maximize Tebow’s potential.
They haven’t. They haven’t even tried. In game situations that scream Tebow, he’s largely been nowhere to be found.
It’s been clear to me for weeks now that Tebow was forced upon Ryan by Johnson with the intention of selling PSLs, merchandise and, when that all petered out, those $50 seats. Where general manager Mike Tannenbaum fits into this conspiracy is unknown at this time, but considering his recent job performance which side of the ledger he fell on when the trade was consummated was likely inconsequential.
The Jets gave Sanchez an insane $50 million extension in the offseason, one that all but guaranteed that short of him suffering a season-ending injury, he’d be the starter in 2012 and probably 2013. That extension meant he’d be given every chance to succeed, or, as his 70.4 rating and 52 percent completion mark suggest, every chance to fail.
Tebow and his people have to ask themselves if they are really ready to endure three more years of this utter nonsense. If I’m in his inner circle I’m screaming at him to demand a trade to a team that will at least appreciate his potential. The Jets may say they do, but they have no intention of letting him even begin to realize it, even when the current QB situation demands a change be made.
I’d guess, considering all the hell the Jets have taken this season and are sure to continue to receive in the offseason, if Tebow politely asks for a trade the Jets will comply. They can’t hide behind any false intentions anymore because most everyone knows at this point trading for Tebow in the first place was, indeed, the ultimate PR move and nothing more.
Suppose, for the sake of argument, Rex eventually pulls the plug on Sanchez this season. Is there any guarantee the job would be Tebow’s? I know it seems like he’s the natural successor, but there is a groundswell of enthusiasm out there for Greg McElroy. The Jets lead the league in doing the bizarre. If the Sanchez era does end soon, there’s absolutely no guarantee the Tebow era will begin in earnest.
You just can’t trust the Jets to make a decision with conviction, unless it’s tied to money they have to pay or money they can potentially receive. It would seem that Tebow starting could be a financial windfall, but, again, it would be the owner’s call and, like the initial trade that brought Tebow here, would be a situation likely thrust upon an unwilling and highly skeptical coaching staff.
Tebow, I can’t emphasize this enough, get the best lawyers and get out of Dodge. You’re 25 and seemingly have it all — except a place to play, to flourish and, most importantly, to be appreciated.
Get out, if you can, while the getting is good.
Because, trust me, when the Jets go into an organizational nosedive, they rarely, if ever, pull out of it. And even if by some miracle they do this season or next, you can bet you’ll be flying in coach instead of in the pilot’s seat.
Read more columns by Jeff Capellini and follow him on Twitter at @GreenLanternJet
Would you want Tebow starting if Sanchez gets benched? Do you think the Jets can win with Tebow as the starter? Or is this team simply beyond the point of saving in the short term? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below …