By Kristian Dyer
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The Jets knew what they were getting themselves into, and now they have no one to blame but themselves for a season splintering apart.
They should have known better.
In March when the Jets traded for Tim Tebow, they knew all along that a player who defied the odds everywhere he went would eventually challenge for the starting position, especially with Mark Sanchez — who has never truly proven himself — under center.
Now with the Jets at 3-6 and Sanchez arguably the worst starting quarterback in the league, the talk about a quarterback controversy is to be expected. What also should have been anticipated was Wednesday’s controversy, where an unnamed Jets player bashed Tebow to the New York Daily News, calling him “terrible.”
This is a situation, after all, where Tebow was set up to fail. Just a few days before the trade was made, the Jets signed Sanchez to a five-year contract extension, which for better or for worse makes him the franchise quarterback. Against this backdrop, Tebow could only ever play a bit role or see Sanchez diminish, becoming embroiled in yet another quarterback controversy. Either way things would get ugly, and either way Tebow would be the focus of unwarranted attention through no fault of his own.
The Jets knew the likelihood of this, and they still decided to do the unthinkable and trade for a quarterback controversy. No matter how they spin it, that is exactly what they got.
And now as the Jets face a must-win game in a season ready to slip through their grasp, they aren’t focusing on the 3-5-1 Rams and a very winnable game in St. Louis. Rather, they’re defending Tebow and defending comments and reputations to the press. There is a split attention span here, and it isn’t good for a team that must figure out how to begin executing or risk missing out on the playoffs.
Good teams can overcome this type of controversy.
Then again, the Jets aren’t a good team.
But the Jets knew better when they opened this Pandora’s box and traded for Tebow, the singularly most recognizable athlete in the United States. He’s a polarizing figure, certainly evidenced by the lack of support received in that Daily News piece, and there is a wide range of opinions on his style of play and mechanics. The Jets knew all this when they traded for him, and they should have known better.
Instead they hoped against hope that it would all work out, instead of taking a hard look at the reality of the situation.
They also should have known that placing Tebow and his larger-than-life persona into a locker room that a season before was described as “toxic” by one of the players was a recipe for disaster.
Let’s be clear that Tebow has brought none of this on himself. Instead, he’s been above it all and has brought his lunch pail to work every day. Every question he’s answered with class, and he’s only ever said that he wants to be the best possible teammate and help the Jets win.
There’s only so much he can do on the sidelines — watching Sanchez throw into double coverage — to help the Jets win games, but he has in fact been the model teammate.
But not even the cherubic Tebow — with his snow white appeal and sterling reputation — can whitewash a tomb that is the Jets locker room.
The problems with the Jets go beyond Tebow and perhaps head coach Rex Ryan, and to the very core of who this team is and the players inside those four walls. This isn’t a matter of the world ganging up on the Jets. Rather, the Jets need to do some housecleaning first. Throwing Tebow into the mix only brought a greater spotlight to the systemic issues holding this organization back.
An organization that should have known better.
Kristian R. Dyer covers the Jets for Metro New York and can be followed on Twitter here for news, insight, snarky comments and breaking Jets news.
Has the Jets’ performance — both on and off the field — been even more disappointing than you envisioned prior to the start of the season? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below…