Ongoing and increasingly fervent debate of playboy vs. altar boy, Sanchize vs. Tebowmania in New York feels almost too perfect to be accidental.
Actually, screenshots of N.Y. Jets quarterbacks Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow answering somber versions of what basically boiled down to “about this inevitable QB controversy . . . ” during halftime of Sunday Night Football felt downright Karl Rove-ian.
This controversy is straight from a political playbook: When in trouble, distract.
I’d suggest the Jets brain trust orchestrated this except I do not think they are smart enough. It is genius, really. They are not very good, a long list of reasons existing as to why, and we have been focusing on a backup quarterback. And as long as we debate these two, we will ignore the elephant in the war room.
The Jets do not have a quarterback problem. From the owner to the general manager to the coach, theirs is a failure of leadership.
The Great White Hype debate that Skip Bayless and Merril Hoge have turned into a cottage industry is a smoke screen for and a symptom of what really ails this NYJ team. The Jets are winning all the wrong battles.
They have confused attention with talent, headlines with performance, hype with Lombardis. The Jets are emblematic of everything that is wrong with America nowadays.
We like the shiny and the loud and too often ignore substance. We distract from problems with lies and palliative measures. We do not fix what is broken, but rather distract ourselves with what does not matter at all.
Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum has general managed this team into train-wreck territory, and we have been talking about shirtless Tebow and Tebow and more Tebow. New York Giants owner John Mara, fresh off yet another Super Bowl victory, joked about this phenomenon in the offseason after the Jets held a press conference for Tebow that turned into a rollicking affair.
“I don’t know,” Mara joked, when asked his thoughts, “but the David Carr press conference will be tomorrow, too.”
You can joke when you win Super Bowls, when you know the difference between owning the back page and owning December, when you know what the hell you are doing.
When you do not, you trade for Tebow and divert.
The Jets are starting to look like the T.O. of NFL teams, what happens when you have more drama than talent. Too bad Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis is the only one with enough brains, guts or both. He somewhat bravely decided to tell the truth recently, questioning whether the Jets had put enough talent around Sanchez.
“You’ve got to do what’s best for the team,” Revis told Newsday, “and I don’t know if we’ve been wise in that department.”
This is not to suggest Revis and I are the first to note that Tannenbaum is the problem. I have seen this beautifully dissected — offseason folly by offseason folly elsewhere. This is merely to remind that we become easily distracted when one of the names involved is Tebow. We forget what is really wrong with a team, and we focus on a single position. We watch games and pretend Sanchez and Tebow are what is wrong.
I am not defending Sanchez, per se, or Tebow. I like both as quarterbacks, yet I recognize the flaws and questions. What I cannot abide is the presumption that you can’t win with them. This is a Jets problem, a problem that Revis clearly defined.
What possibly is his motivation for lying?
It is why I cringe upon reading lists of quarterbacks who improve themselves like quarterback play is some have it/lack it proposition. Yes, some quarterbacks crater under the weight of their incompetence, their own limitations. On others though, the pocket collapses around them.
Nobody is going to argue against Tom Brady’s brilliance. He is also very fortunate to play for a coach for whom winning the press conference was never a priority. He plays for a guy who was focused on putting a winning team around him.
Ask yourself, is this what Rex Ryan is all about? Or Tannenbaum? Do you trust them to build a winner? Is there any evidence to suggest they can build one? That they are getting closer, not further away after tasting the AFC Championship Game?
Any GM who could look at the Jets roster after last season and determine they needed only Tebow and a few tweaks is not simply clueless. He is dangerous. Yet the focus is on the lack of touchdowns by Sanchez’s first unit in preseason games or Tebow’s much-discussed limitations, and everything else gets whitewashed.
Sanchez deserves better. So does Tebow.
And, really, enough of them.
Guys like Revis deserve better. At the very least, he deserves a real conversation about what is wrong with this team.