Maybe the Jets Need a Bomber
I want to start by making it clear that I don't believe that anything short of serious injury would cause the Jets to start Tebow, or even give him a half of football - I'll discuss that at post's end - but I think it at least worth talking about the reasons why you might want to start him, some of which may not have been discussed ad nausem.
This isn't about whether Tim Tebow is a better QB than Sanchez, or even about if Sanchez is a good QB. My opinion on Sanchez is that he is an erratic QB. Not good, not bad...erratic. It comes from a lot of things. His footwork under pressure is very inconsistent for instance and results in bad throws even when things go great otherwise. His pocket awareness (clock in the head), desire to make something out of nothing, and ball skills all produce too too many untimely turnovers. Just the same he has been challenged his whole career by an ever-changing - and now very young - WR corps, inconsistent line play, curious play calling, and a constant "don't lose it!" drumbeat from those that he wants to impress. Add to this the thing about erratic is that it can also produce rare magic - for a game, a half, a series, a throw - the stuff that just is inspiring, and that too is a part of what Sanchez is.
What Kind of Team is This?
All of this makes such an interesting and volatile mix at QB. But the case for Tim Tebow does not rest on whether Sanchez is a good QB or not. It rests on realizing what kind of team this is and that Sanchez is not really the KIND of quarterback for it as it is presently constituted. Instead of listing all the unfair qualities of this team that have held back Sanchez and made it difficult for him to show his potential - again: play calling, O-line play, offensive philosophy, inexperienced WRs, no dynamic RB, etc - we have to realize that this is just what this team is. All that stuff is not going to change this season and there is no reason to go on dreaming that it will. This is going to be a team that is going to be inconsistent. Line play will be great, and then not. WRs are going to drop balls and run wrong routes. The Offensive play calling is going to go into a shell when it gets the red zone sometimes. That is this team. You need a guy who can thrive in that. You need to find the part that fits best in that kind of "something isn't going to go right today" machine, and Sanchez as a highly inconsistent quarterback with his own developmental problems just isn't that guy. He needs just too much stability and high performance around him to iron our his own weaknesses.
So the question is: Is Tim Tebow that guy? I don't want to go into the endless career stat comparisons of pretty mediocre stats by both QBs. We need to think about this team in terms of its flaws, flaws that aren't going to change any time soon. Let's take play calling. It is hard to imagine a QB better suited for a ground-first, conservative play calling philosophy (without going into the upper tier of QBs who would do well in most any system). If the Jets want to settle for field goals - no matter what they say about the red zone - and want to run the ball on 1st down a ton, this is your guy. We also have some interesting speed and size at WR and TE that would seem to fit Tebow's spread formation threat. We have two slippery possession receivers in Keller and Kerley, Schilens has great size and Hill can still blow the top off a defense if they just man up against the short throw and run. Both the play calling tendencies and the personnel seem at least friendly to Tebow's skill set. Tebow is no more accurate than Sanchez, we know that, but his threat of the run would create bigger receiver windows and better match ups that Sanchez just won't have with only Greene back there.
Making the Most Out of the Offensive Line
Think about the Offensive line and what a Tebow run-first offense would look like. It's had some pretty good games, but it could be better. Howard is a better run blocker than a pass blocker. Ducasse could replace Slauson and be a road-grater. There is a chance that the Jets could develop into a power Offensive line in just a few games. Nothing invigorates an O-line like run blocking does. They want to go forward, downhill, not backwards, and Tebow could really change the esteem of the O-line just by embracing the run, just as the coaches seem to want to. Related to this of course is that it is clear that the Jets do want to be a run-first team. It isn't just in their rhetoric, it's in their play calling too. We just have to wake up to the reality that Greene - despite some games with a few pops - is not, nor has ever been, a ground and pound lead back. He just lacks the dimensions that make him a true threat: does not hit the hole hard, lacks a 3rd and sometimes 2nd gear (the team was last in 2nd tier and open field yards last year), does not slide or adjust after his first cut, and isn't a good enough receiver to keep defenses honest. If this team is going to run, and it seems like it is bent on doing it, the Sanchez and Greene backfield just doesn't cut it, despite Sanchez's great play action.
The biggest reason why Tim Tebow makes sense is this point in the season of course. Not only the bye week, but because if the Jets lose against Seattle the door to the playoffs is pretty much closed (barring miracles). Before this week's games Seattle was 3rd in pass defense, 2nd in rush defense. It is waiting there like just the kind of buzz saw that will shut down Greene and give Sanchez very small windows for success. This is a near must win game and a Tebow transformation of the offense (without game film) probably would give us a best chance to win a defensive struggle and save our season for at least that one game, just as Sparano pulled out the Wildcat on New England and changed the league for a bit. But it is not only that. It goes beyond this one game - and again this is not about who is the better QB - it seems that between the two Tim Tebow is better suited to how the Jets will have to win, more or less, from here out out....Win ugly.
Turning Lead into Gold
Tebow never, never looks good in wins. With only a few exceptions he wins through excellent ball security - a big weakness for Sanchez - and game management. The balls go here, they go there, but they don't go to the defense. There are three and outs, just like we are having now, but instead of the threat of a QB like Sanchez suddenly turning it on and give a great 94 yard drive out of nowhere, there is a sense of grinding it out, putting pressure on the defense until it breaks. Taking what the defense has given, playing field position, and then when it matters making the big play. Both players have "aura", but Tim's aura is different. It is a roll-up-the-sleeves and pound aura. Because this team is not going to be hitting on all cylinders, we may need blue collar, I can take these broken parts and win ugly magic, not cool guy magic. While Sanchez is continually shaking his head at where the receiver blew a route, or an Offensive Lineman whiffed on a protection, Tim Tebow is pumping his fist. If you watch Tebow on the sidelines he is going over and talking to different guys all the time. He is a team guy, an "us" guy. When all your parts aren't working, sometimes "team" and make-it-work is the glue that you need.
This isn't to say that Sanchez doesn't have his own leadership qualities. He sincerely does. In fact so does his head coach too. But you have to look at the state of the team and just admit: It isn't working. Whatever that recipe is: too much of that, not enough this + Sanchez leadership = not performing well enough to win. It is time to change the recipe, and we need to change it fast. It could be that Tebow - even though not the QB that Sanchez is - is the right fit for a team full of contradictions and mix-matched personnel. We get the turnovers down, get the OL playing smash mouth, get the rah-rah up and see if Rex's defense can win games.
Defense First - Try It
I think the Defense is the final piece of the Tebow equation (just as it was in Denver). I'm not saying that the Defense has the potential to be as good as Denver's, but I am saying that we have to just realize that the Defense is the strength of this team, even if it is not dominant. It has played VERY well in the first halves of games all season against some very good teams, often keeping us in the game even though the Offense is flailing. Now Coples and Davis are looking good, Po'uah is coming back online, the secondary has been much better than we ever thought with even Trufant provide a spark. Outright making this team about the Defense in the same way as happened in Denver seems like the kind of cure that might work. Tebow fits right in with giving Rex and his D shine. A Tebow clock grinding offense rests the Defense too. I don't think it out of school to believe that if this team goes to the playoffs this year it will because its Defense had risen to being top 8 in the league at least, not because its offense suddenly turned it around and became merely even average. Because it is a desperate time this team has to play to its strengths and all that potential - like it or not - is on Defense.
Tough Guy and Saving Sanchez
There is one more reason why Tim Tebow makes sense, and that is Mark Sanchez. Sanchez will BE our starting quarterback next year. Given his erratic play and the instability of everything around him this year I think it is highly unlikely that he is going to turn this team around, but even more importantly, going through an entire year of this and ending up with some pretty rotten stats and lots of bad headlines may very well destroy anything we have left in him in terms of potential. For instance I think the end of last year with all the locker room chaos and Sanchez's inability to finish strong on the field hurt Sanchez as player, it did not make him better. The one thing nobody has tried is to let Sanchez sit and watch, and to do it for real. Quite the opposite, Tebow reminds me of those B-17 bombers of World War II, called the Flying Fortress. They were designed to take hits. gunfire, shrapnel everywhere tearing through the well-armored fuselage. Gun turrets turning to fire on on-coming aircraft. Famous for battle-damaged returns on missions, they were meant to get through heavy enemy fire and drop their payload. Tebow is tough. TOUGH. Mentally he is quite rare, even his detractors will admit that. Let him take the slings and arrows of misfortune. Let him see if he can piece together magic in the hail of bullets. Let him take the NY media heat. Let Sanchez watch, learn and advise. The team is just too mis-made to work right for Sanchez.
And then let Sanchez put it all together. Let him be ready for next year. There is no doubt that he will work intensely hard to regain his starting position. He would also have the benefit of watching and learning, the hunger to go and get it.
So what is the worst thing that could happen? Tebow leads us to the playoffs and it is a miracle and we have a full-blown QB controversy next Summer - Rex can still be bullheaded on Sanchez in that case, at least we saved a season. Tebow crashes and burns and we know for real that he isn't the answer - Sanchez survives in tact untarnished by a final 6 games that likely wouldn't have looked good;; we have Sanchez ready to bust out 2013 Revis' last year, with a great defense. Or Tebow produces some wins and we almost get to the playoffs - the decision would be the same as the one where we make the playoffs, the eyeball test.
Why the Jets Won't Do it
For all these reasons I don't think that McElroy really is the answer that Tim Tebow is. He might be a nice little short passer who could make the offense a little better, but he isn't a B-17 Bomber. He isn't the thing that might make a broken team whole enough to win ugly.
It's pretty clear though that the Jets will not make the move to Tebow. Their use of him (or mis-use, or non-use) is nearly comical in comparison with how they talked him up in pre-season. They have him at half-back running patterns as a decoy. They have him running straight ahead. Very few plays. They seem utterly mystified on how to use him creatively or with rhythm, and to my eyes actually genuinely afraid of the possibility of Tebow success. If they used him in anything that he was successful in at Denver, or anything that looked like an offense that could be run, and Tebow completed passes or big runs at a high clip it would just produce a media chaos the Jets want no part of. They envisioned Tebow as a kind of great cherry on top of a Mark Sanchez Sundae. When Sanchez is doing great put Tebow in and really confuse them. They never imagined that Tim Tebow would have to rescue Sanchez from a game he was performing poorly in, or taking over for Sanchez. Tebow was an extra dimension of offense. And because this is finally coming clear we have to say that getting Tebow as insurmountably stupid. If you were not ready and planning to turn to him, he shouldn't be here. It is like pulling a gun out to defend yourself. If you aren't going to pull the trigger you should never have mentioned "I have a gun" or reached into your pocket.
Also culturally this team does not react to what is actually happening. Whether it is being behind by 20+ points late in the 3rd quarter and still calling running plays on first down and walking to the huddle, or addressing big Offensive Coordinator issues in season, or team chemistry falling apart. Something about this team - and maybe it is Rex - is a little head in the sand. They wait until it is all over and then say "Whew! Didn't see that coming." The season is hanging n the balance, this week and next. it is just about over. It is time to go into the two minute drill with almost 10 minutes left in the game...and maybe it is time to launch your B-17 and win ugly.