By Kristian Dyer
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Here come the Jets, making a mess of things yet again.
On Thursday, head coach Rex Ryan had to announce that Greg McElroy would not start this Sunday in Buffalo due to a concussion. McElroy made his first NFL start last Sunday and hung in there admirably despite 11 sacks, with Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow both active against the Chargers but did not play. Now with McElroy out of the upcoming game, it will be Sanchez who gets the nod against the Bills.
It doesn’t add up.
When the Jets traded for Tebow in March, they said he would be the backup behind Sanchez and would run the Wildcat. Tebow has run the Wildcat offense sporadically since mid-November and has thrown just one pass since that game against the Rams. So he hasn’t been a factor in the Wildcat and now, he’s not being utilized in the role the Jets proclaimed he was brought in for.
Tebow deserves better than this after the year he’s had in New York.
Since he arrived in March, Tebow has said all the right things, done all the right things and never once sought attention. He’s been praised by the coaching staff for his work ethic and on Wednesday, Ryan gave him a rare compliment in saying of Tebow that “he’s a full-time quarterback with running back skills.”
But Tebow didn’t get the nod for the season finale for one simple reason: If he came in and performed well against the Bills, the outrage from the fan base would be incredible.
Against the hapless Bills, there’s a rather high possibility that Tebow could come in and find success, leading the fan base to question why the team’s supposed backup quarterback wasn’t put in sooner. The reason of course is $50 million – the amount of the five-year contract extension that Sanchez signed this past March. The Jets owe Sanchez plenty of guaranteed money this year and next year, making him nearly impossible to bench.
In addition, the fact that he was the No. 5 pick four years ago and recently given an extension means that the Jets had to justify Sanchez being the starter no matter the return on that investment.
No matter that Tebow or McElroy, a former seventh round pick, gave the Jets the better chance to win this season as the decision to start Sanchez was done with perception largely in mind. But with Sanchez’s performances being so bad, it was necessary to bench the man once called the “Sanchise.” But Tebow should have gotten better than he got.
If his last name wasn’t Tebow and if he wasn’t as big of a lightning rod as he is, in all likelihood he would start over Sanchez this week in Buffalo.
For in Tebow, the Jets had a player as a backup who was 7-4 a season ago with a bad offense. He won the division with the Broncos and then a playoff game, showing flashes of a player who earned a reputation in college with Florida of stepping up in big moments. Now with Sanchez’s struggles and McElroy hurt, it should have been “Tebow Time.” Instead, the Jets slapped him in the face with this decision.
Ryan said during his Thursday press conference that his conversation with Tebow was going to be “private.” But before that, he let the world know of his decision that “obviously Tim’s not happy with that, as you’d expect.” It was perhaps a bit of Machiavellian maneuvering from Ryan to let that slip out, enforcing the image, supported by recent reports naming sources who said that Tebow is a malcontent right now.
But Tebow from the onset of the trade has played down the quarterback controversy angle and instead has focused on his role as a teammate. He’s never publicly voiced his displeasure, never pouted. Instead, he’s done what he’s been asked to do, a remarkable feat for a 25-year old to show such restraint. His time in New York showed class despite the circumstances.
Now in turn, the Jets are giving him the ultimate slap in the face.
He deserved this opportunity to start on Sunday but instead fear ruled the decision. Fear of what Tebow in his unconventional style might do. Fear that Jets fans will see the fraud of Sanchez and clamor for more Tebow. Fear that Tebow will show-up the failed master plan of management this year. Fear that Tebow would come in and win a game after so many Sanchez-inspired losses this season.
Fear ruled the day and Tebow deserved better than this. May he find better next year.
Kristian R. Dyer covers the Jets for Metro New York and also contributes to Yahoo!Sports. He can be followed for Jets news @KristianRDyer
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