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Published: December 26, 2012
Back in July when the New York Jets first opened training camp up in Cortland, Tim Tebow seemed amused answering a question that is as valid today as it was five months ago. The sweltering summer heat following the morning work out spared no one, especially the throng of scribes surrounding the newly acquired, ultra-popular back-up quarterback.
“I don’t think there’s a clear sense on anything,” Tebow replied to a reporter who inquired if he knows how he will be used.
After boasting on how much that Tebow was in fact going to be used, Rex Ryan gave the impression that the coaching staff was practically jumping out of their skin in anticipation of finally introducing the Wildcat part of their playbook once the preseason games were concluded. It meant nothing that the offense was invisible through the four summer games.
“I said from Day One (that) I thought Tim was an outstanding football player and the fact that we’re using him as a personal protector (on the punt team) and the fact that he can run the Wildcat,” the Jets head coach said on September 3. “We just haven’t put it out there in the preseason games. I guess we’ll find out on Sunday (in their season opener) how much we’ll use him (that) particular week.” That last part of the statement could have been inserted in nearly every week’s transcript and the answer always being similar – slim to none.
Team owner Woody Johnson also chimed in right before that first regular season affair with, “I am not in this to create a circus environment or any kind of environment other than a winning environment.”
But by bringing in someone with the following that Tebow has – and then dangling him from the sideline week after week – made no sense unless he was going to be used even half as much as the possible 20 or more plays a game that Ryan had suggested. The Jets had a putrid offense all season long and there was more than one perfect scenario in which to give Tebow an opportunity to work some of the magic that he has been able to perform throughout his entire life playing quarterback – even with the limitations on his arm.
Let’s take a look back at some of the more obvious situations where a call to the bullpen at some point in the game was not only warranted, but necessary in order to make a game of it:
WEEK 4: San Francisco 49ers – 34, JETS – 0
The Jets trailed 17-0 at the half and even if Ryan didn’t want to yank starter Mark Sanchez right then and there, when the Niners put up 17 more points in the third stanza should have made him rethink it. Plus the MetLife Stadium crowd booing and chanting Tebow’s name would have got what they paid for that day. (Sanchez – 13 for 29, 0 TD, 1 INT)
WEEK 6: JETS – 35, Indianapolis Colts – 9
Yes, this was a perfect time to give your second stringers more PT, as the starters (mostly on defense) gave the home team a comfortable 26-point lead after three quarters. But Ryan left Sanchez out there as he kept looking good handing off to Shonn Greene, who had a banner day with 161 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. (Sanchez – 11 for 18, 82 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT/Tebow – 1 for 1, 23 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT)
WEEK 8: Miami Dolphins – 30, JETS – 9
Another horrendous home performance by the Jets, who trailed 20-0 at halftime. When it became apparent that Sanchez was not going to be able to lead them back, Tebow could have received some live reps. (Sanchez – 28 for 54, 283 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT)
WEEK 15: TENNESSEE TITANS – 14, Jets- 10
After the fiasco of Tebow’s two broken ribs, being activated for two games with the injury and then deactivated for one, Ryan had him dressed and the only other available quarterback in a Monday night must-win for Gang Green. ‘Wrecks’ left third stringer Greg McElroy in street clothes, even though he was only going to use Tebow in an emergency situation. The former Bronco was not going to be used in the Wildcat or on special teams due to the lingering rib injury. So when it became apparent that Sanchez was having one of his worst games, Tebow needed to have his number called. If McElroy was active, then there was another option. But if losing and being eliminated from playoff contention is not considered an emergency, then what is? (Sanchez – 13 for 28, 131 yards, 1 TD, 4 INT)
Then when the obvious time to bench Sanchez and give Tebow (the number two guy all season long) a start or two came around, Ryan leapfrogged him with McElroy, who took a beating with 11 sacks in the Week 16 loss to the San Diego Chargers. Ryan squashed any speculation if Tebow would see the field in the season finale at Buffalo by announcing that McElroy will get another shot.
All of the speculation on whether Tebow asked to be left out of the game plan because he didn’t get the start is troubling to hear on face value, but frustration must have set in after months of pure nonsense purported by the entire Jets organization regarding him.
This was a team that needed a spark and some positive press, which would have happened if Tebow saw some extensive playing time. It was a win-win situation for Ryan – if Tebow played well, then the team would have had a better chance at a postseason berth; if he fell flat on his face, then the organization would have saved theirs by giving him a real opportunity and it didn’t pan out.
Photo by Bill Menzel
Tagged with: Circus Environment, Five Months, Football Player, Head Coach, New York Jets, Personal Protector, Playbook, Preseason Games, Rex Ryan, Scribes, Season Opener, Sideline, Slim To None, Snake Oil, Summer Games, Sweltering Summer Heat, Team Owner, Throng, Tim Tebow, Woody Johnson