NFL

Jets have one option: Start Tebow

Sanchez, Tebow on Texans
Sanchez, Tebow on Texans
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Jen Floyd Engel

Jen Floyd Engel, selected as the top columnist in the 2012 Associated Press Sports Editors annual contest, started working at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in 1997 and became a columnist in 2003 before joining FOXSports.com. Sports opinions? She's never short of them. And love her or hate her, she'll be just another one of the boys. Follow her on Twitter or like her on Facebook.

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Start Tim Tebow.

Not in Wildcat or Razorback or the slot. At quarterback.

Not in a couple of weeks. Now.

Not because of God or faith or any intangibles attributed to him. Not for any reason except the New York Jets are drowning and need a kick in the butt. This is not about belief at all. This is about doubt — doubt about whether the Mark Sanchez who helped the Jets to back-to-back AFC Championship Games is ever coming back or if he really ever existed at all.

If an NFL team is being asked about its backup quarterback, something has gone terribly wrong. It is broken and you are just trying to fling something against the wall and hope it sticks, which properly summarizes where the Jets are.

They are 2-2, coming off of being shut out 34-0 by San Francisco and facing a formidable defense in Houston. What I know for sure about Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips is that, while he is not worth a damn as a head coach, he is formidable as a defensive coordinator. And he unleashes his crew on a Sanchez coming off  back-to-back-to-back, ish-to-worse performances.

The stats are ugly — completion percentage under 50 percent since Week 1, most inaccurate passer in the league and an interception-to-touchdown ratio that makes winning almost impossible. Toss in season-ending injuries to Santonio Holmes and Darrelle Revis, and this season seems to be teetering.

So what about possibly starting Tebow? Or including him in the offense a little more? Or getting him a snap or two?

“I just know in my heart right now that this is not the time,” Jets coach Rex Ryan told media when pressed on Tebow in Monday’s post-loss feeding frenzy.

“I think Tim is an outstanding player. I think Mark is. Right now, I think Mark gives us our best opportunity to win. I will always do, in my opinion, what in the best interest of this team. ... And that interest is what gives us the best chance to win. No matter who it is.”

It is a hard sell right now, this idea of Sanchez giving the Jets the best chance to win.

Forget stats. Watch the damn game.

So this brings us back to Tebow, a complicated subject because people are so strangely polarized about him and his ability. The thing is, he looked very much pedestrian in the preseason. He also led a flailing Broncos team to the playoffs a year ago. This is not Tebow-ing. This is truth. The only thing that changed from the beginning of the year to the end in Denver was the quarterback. It did not always look pretty, but it won, and won a playoff game.

This started with an ostensibly leerier Denver group deciding to bench Kyle Orton after a 1-4 start. So why are the Jets, a team that traded for him, hesitant to act?

Everything that has happened so far this season, in essence, has called the bluff of the Jets. Either Tebow is a real-deal quarterback whom they brought in to push Sanchez and replace him if injured or struggling, or he is a party trick.

If he is a party trick, it further underlines what I wrote about this Jets team after the preseason. Theirs is a leadership problem. Their GM and coach are hip to waders in questionable decisions. And if they really think Tebow is a legit NFL quarterback, he needs to be playing more — Wildcat, quarterback, on the freaking field for starters. He has been involved in just 31 snaps in four games.

I know the arguments for not starting him — the contract extension to Sanchez and the $20.5 million that guarantees him this year and next. There is the fear of losing him, too. How does Sanchez handle being benched? Can you go back to him if Tebow struggles?

STAR POWER

Who needs Hollywood? If you want to see celebrities, just check out the stands at an NFL game.

Here is an idea: Tell Sanchez to pull up his big-boy pants.

He is in this position because he has not played well. If he were killing it, Tebow would be a fun thing they do from time to time in a game. As it stands, he has to be an option.

Jets offensive coordinator Tony Sparano was on hand when then-Cowboys coach Bill Parcells yanked Drew Bledsoe at halftime of a game and went to a kid named Tony Romo. Nobody knew for sure what Romo was going to be, just that what the Cowboys were under Bledsoe was not good enough.

I am not saying that Sanchez is Bledsoe. He is younger, for starters.

Or that Tebow is Romo. He is not as accurate, which is damning coming off Romo’s five-interception performance.

EYE CANDY

We're not just watching the field on Sunday. NFL cheerleaders provide the perfect sideshow.

The parallel is the Cowboys were a team with bigger goals, as the Jets were when this season began. Where they find themselves is .500 and relying on a quarterback who has looked awful.

The obvious solution is to utilize Tebow.

Why not bring in a guy who saved a sinking ship in Denver? The only possible answer is what people suggested all along — Tebow was merely brought in as a party trick to steal back-page headlines and buzz.

And if not, it is time to start Tebow.

Or at very least use him.
 

Tagged: Cowboys, Jets, Drew Bledsoe, Tony Romo, Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow

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