The New York Jets are not in a good place right now. While they are only 2-2, they were utterly demolished by the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, losing 34 to 0. Quarterback Mark Sanchez played one of his worst career games, completing under half his passes for just over 100 yards, losing a fumble and throwing an interception.
Normally, this wouldn’t be much of a controversy. Sure, Sanchez played terrible, but so did the rest of the team. Anyway, who will replace him? This season, however, there is someone to replace him: Tim Tebow. Given his miraculous play last season and Sanchez’s struggles, there may be a switch on the horizon. Some fans clearly want him, as chants of “Tebow” rang around the otherwise quiet Metlife Stadium. Will starting “sexy Jesus” actually change anything, though?
The answer is no. A one-for-one swap won’t actually solve the team’s problems. The main reason behind this is the rest of the offense; there is no one to take the burden off the quarterback. Santonio Holmes, the only legitimate offensive weapon on the Jets’ roster, will likely be sidelined with a knee injury for the foreseeable future: On what can only be described as a freak play, Holmes’ leg slipped out from under him while making a catch. He had to be helped to the sideline and was later driven off the field in a golf cart, with his foot in a boot and crutches beside him.
Continuing down the depth charts, there is not a single name that strikes fear in the hearts of defenses. Chaz Schilens. Jeff Cumberland. Jeremy Kelley. The backfield is no stronger, boasting only Shonn Green, who is averaging less than three yards per carry this season with one touchdown, and second-year pro Bill Powell. Remember when the Jets adopted the slogan of “Revis Island?” Perhaps they should rebrand as “the Island of Misfit Offense.”
With that cast around him, Tebow will likely face as much difficulty as Sanchez. With no receiver to command a double team, opposing defenses will simply stack the line, negating Tebow’s primary threat of running the ball. He will be dared to throw, which the Jets simply have not let him do thus far—on Sunday he threw his first pass of the season, a 9-yard floater to tight end Derrick Epps, who promptly fumbled.
In that case, what are the Jets to do? The best course of action would likely be to integrate Tim Tebow more fully into the offense, while keeping Mark Sanchez as the starter. They could work in a two-quarterback set, similar to how the Eagles used Kevin Kolb and Michael Vick together a few years ago. This would keep defenses thinking, as they would have to plan for two separate players to both run or pass. Imagine the chaos it could cause: Tebow breaking right with the ball but suddenly throwing or Sanchez dropping back for a pass and then running a draw up the middle.
Using both players together, or at the very least more interchangeably, would fix the major issue in the Jets’ current scheme: predictability. As spelled out by Steelers’ coach Mike Tomlin, the New York offense has simple become too easy to plan for and defend. Widespread use of Wildcat formation – in which the quarterback runs the ball rather than throwing it – has been common in the league for years now.
When Tebow shredded defenses last year, it was as a starter. The entire offense ran through him, and he could pass or run at any moment. This year, however, he is a package player, meaning he comes in only as a substitute for certain situations. In addition to his being rarely utilized, defenses know Tebow coming into the game means a running play. In four games, he has thrown only one complete pass while carrying the ball nine times.
Sitting at 2-2 with 12 games to play, the Jets’ season is far from over. After Sunday’s abysmal performance, however, the next few months could get rather depressing for Gang Green. There is no such thing as a quick solution; switching starters from Mark Sanchez to Tim Tebow will do little more than change the name being mocked on the back page of the papers.
Instead, the Jets should adopt a smarter approach, using both Sanchez and Tebow together in an attempt to confuse defenses and make up for the lack of receiving talent. While the team is falling apart on the field, this move could solidify everything from the fans up. Using both players at once would eliminate any rumblings of a divisive quarterback controversy, put the focus back on football and, most importantly, give the Jets the best chance to win.