It shouldn’t have happened in the first place, but now the Jets are knee-deep in a quarterback mess of their own creation. Ten days after inking Mark Sanchez to a three-year contract extension, the New York Jets did the unthinkable; they traded for one of the most polarizing athletes of the past decade, Tim Tebow. The national media flooded Jets training camp in the quiet college town of Cortland, New York, chronicling and capturing Tebow’s every movement; a scene akin to the Hollywood paparazzi.
A quarterback controversy was evident from the get-go as speculation ran rampant that Tebow would ultimately replace an embattled Sanchez unless the Jets franchise signal-caller could turn his team’s fortunes around.
After a scintillating start to the season that saw Sanchez and company hang up 48 points in the home opener, the Jets quickly spiraled out of control. Gang Green saw Santonio Holmes and Darrelle Revis go down to season-ending injuries and with Dustin Keller missing the majority of the season, Sanchez had very few viable weapons at his disposable. With an inconsistent running game, an improving yet flawed offensive line and virtually no playmaking ability at the wide receiver position, New York started to plummet down the NFL’s offensive rankings.
Sanchez’s confidence in his teammates began to wane and No. 6 continued to force the issue, which resulted in ugly turnovers and miscues all over the field. The Jets became the laughing stock of the league when Sanchez collided with the backside of offensive lineman Brandon Moore in the second-quarter of a humiliating 49-19 loss on Thanksgiving Night to the archrival New England Patriots.
All the while, Tebow waited patiently for his turn, deflecting questions about his lack of playing time and offering praise and support to his teammates in need. Unfortunately Tebow’s time never came, as Rex Ryan handed second year player Greg McElroy the keys to the offense in the second half of a 7-6 comeback win over the Arizona Cardinals.
Miraculously, after much deliberation Ryan awarded Sanchez with the starting job and seemingly one final chance to prove his worth in a Week 15 match-up with the Tennessee Titans. Somehow the Jets were still in playoff contention and a win could propel them right into the thick of the AFC playoff picture.
The Jets trip to the Music City ended on a sour note as Sanchez committed five turnovers and Gang Green squandered two opportunities to score the game-winning touchdown deep in Titans’ territory. New York was officially eliminated from playoff contention and with the loss Sanchez was officially removed from the starting role.
Once again Ryan would pass over Tebow and turn to McElroy to start the final two games of the season, begging the question, why bring Tebow to the Big Apple in the first place?
Former general manager Mike Tannenbaum admitted this past week that he was the impetus for the Tebow move. With Tannenbaum out, it remains to be seen whether Tebow will follow in suit.
Following a disappointing 2012 campaign, the Jets are aleady overhauling their coaching staff, front office and depth chart. While Tebow’s future outlook with Gang Green appears dim, there exists a remote possibility that he could be back with the organization next season. Newly hired offensive coordinator Marty Morningweg may carve out a role for Tebow, one that Tony Sparano never seemed willing or capable of creating.
As the Jets prepare for an offseason makeover, solving their quarterback dilemma remains at the top of the team’s priority list.