“We have to bring in another quarterback that will make him work at practice. He’s lazy and content because he knows he’s not going to be benched.” — an anonymous New York Jets player talking about quarterback Mark Sanchez to reporter Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News back in January.
If there was any doubt that sentiment was true, or echoed by decision makers, it was erased on Wednesday when the Jets traded for Tim Tebow.
You do not bring Tebow in because you believe he can, at this stage of development, win you a Super Bowl right away. You bring him in as a one-man, personal come-to-Jesus meeting for the quarterback you believe can do it.
Welcome to Tebowmania, Mark Sanchez.
Work harder, win more, or prepare to be billboarded.
A come-to-Jesus meeting for all of y’all not from Texas is just a way of saying that the time has come to have an honest, no-holds-barred talk about this very huge problem, which in this case is Sanchez. Truth hurts, and rarely do such talks go down easily, yet New York obviously has a Sanchez problem and needs to get his attention.
Bringing in Tebow so soon after giving Sanchez a three-year contract extension says, “We love you but …” And that “but” was summed up perfectly by another anonymous Jets player when asked about the probability of hoisting a Lombardi Trophy with Sanchez.
“How can we when he’s not improving at all?” the player was quoted in the Daily News. “He thinks he is, but he’s not. He has shown us what he’s capable of.”
Mark Sanchez is a good young quarterback. He’s capable of great, though, and has shown that side when properly motivated. When his coach at USC, Pete Carroll, said Sanchez was not ready for the NFL, he came in cocky and firing and led them to consecutive AFC title games.
I do not know if he got lazy last season or just had a bad year. What I know is his fingerprints (along with plenty of his Jets teammates) were everywhere on their end-of-year slide, and there was enough locker room angst that big-time players felt comfortable shredding him to media.
What Jets coach Rex Ryan has to be hoping is that the threat of Tebow serves as a kick in what some Jets players call his lazy behind. Because about two losses and pressure will begin mounting to play Tebow — considering what he did for Denver and this fervent belief that he just wins. They cannot want this in New York, only the fear of it.
The come-to-Jesus meeting is genius if done right, but when you play the hole card, you better be able to back it up.
And therein lies the biggest question: Are the Jets willing to use Tebow?
I think they are because I think Jets offensive coordinator Tony Sparano thinks he can win with him. Sparano and recently suspended Saints coach Sean Payton were on an offensive staff in Dallas that found a way to win with Quincy Carter.
Not a lot of y’all probably remember Qcar, a second-round reach by the Cowboys way back when trying to find a cheap version of Donovan McNabb was a league-wide scramble. His NFL years were hardly memorable.
He could not read defenses.
He was basically not good at any of his assigned objectives — passing, running, decision making.
And the Cowboys reached a playoff game with him.
Tebow, obviously, has shown more promise despite this drumbeat of media who like to pretend he cannot throw. He’s a third-year player with intangibles, a playoff win under his belt and a strong desire to get better.
He is not Peyton Manning. Nor is he a tight end.
If the Broncos could win with him, the Jets certainly could. This leaves only very weak criticisms of the deal — that Tebow will bring a circus element to New York, that Tebowmania will be a distraction, that this undermines Sanchez, that this risks splitting the Jets locker room.
a) When is it not a circus in New York? This is a sports town that brought us Linsanity and the death thereof in the span of two months, text pictures of Brett Favre’s junk, news that A-Rod had his head superimposed on centaur photos hanging in his bed, Madoff and the Mets, and a genius tabloid media always playing along.
b) Despite what John Elway obviously believes, Tebowmania did not exactly hurt the Broncos. It actually forced their hands. It made them do what they were too stubborn or too “smart” to do, which was play Tebow. And as much as this pained Elway to watch, Tebow helped lead them to a playoff W. This helped showcase what is really a good defense. This is at least partially why Peyton Manning decided to go there. This is why Tebow was expendable. Again, what is wrong with Tebowmania?
c) If Mark Sanchez wants to stop a quarterback debate, all he has to do is play well and win. He is not Kyle Orton or Brady Quinn. He is a young, dynamic quarterback who Jets types desperately want to succeed because if he does, they do. They probably win a Super Bowl. So anything they do — including bringing in Tebow — is meant to help this along.
d) What part of “lazy” says great locker room atmosphere? Or have we simply forgotten that Jets backup quarterback Greg McElroy called this the most toxic locker room he has been a part of on any level? I do not buy that Tebow immediately provides a salve for this locker room. About the only cure I know for a toxic locker room — aside from exterminating your “rat” element — is winning.
They believe Mark Sanchez is the guy capable of doing this. They have seen him do this, leading them to back-to-back AFC Championship games. Yes, the Jets expect a lot from him. They also have not put this all on him, bringing in receivers and Sparano and now Tebow.
Yes, Tebow is here for Sanchez.
He is his personal come-to-Jesus meeting.
If Sanchez is wise, he’ll listen because his next meeting may very well be a "come to Tebow and take his headphones" meeting.