"I just know in my heart, right now, that this is not the time."
Those are the words New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan used about turning his team over to backup quarterback Tim Tebow and, in turn, benching Mark Sanchez. His comment came on the heels of New York's embarrassing Week 4 wallop at the hands of San Francisco, 34-0, the third worst home loss in franchise history. Sanchez, in a word, was heinous, completing a wretched 13-29 passes for 103 yards with one interception and one lost fumble.
This of course, should hardly come as a surprise to anyone.
The truth is that Sanchez has been meddling in mediocrity for the vast majority of his career. While he did help lead the franchise to consecutive AFC Championship games in 2009 and 2010, the argument that the team's success was mostly a byproduct of a dominant defense is not untrue
Now, in his fourth season as a pro, the 25-year-old still appears as frightened by the rush as an acne-plagued teenager staring at a mirror. Happy feet and a general lack of confidence to trust secondary reads have the Jets' offense in a tailspin, lacking any vertical threat or the slightest reason to fear Sanchez's deep ball. To be fair, running back Shonn Greene was awful before being supplanted by Bilal Powell -- who, even at his best, is not going to prevent defenses from routinely stacking the box with eight defenders. Furthermore, a porous offensive line highlighted by a patchwork right side make it hard for Sanchez to confidently go about his drops.
At some point however, Ryan and the rest of his minions (yes, you Mike Tannenbaum) need to realize that Sanchez is not the answer. Maybe he never was, but he definitely isn't anymore. Through September, he was the only NFL quarterback completing under 50 percent of his passes. He ranks 29th (out of 32) in yards per attempt and 30th in passer rating, ahead of rookies Ryan Tannehill and Brandon Weeden. To further complicate matters, Sanchez has lost his best weapon with wide receiver Santonio Holmes now out for the season.
Tebow, for all his faults as a pure thrower -- and there is a laundry list of them -- actually makes sense with this roster. He is a humming team machine brimming with confidence who doesn't need great protection to make plays. He doesn't need an elite wideout for throws, and, as last season taught us, he definitely doesn't need the benefit of an entire season starting to be effective.
Despite whatever decision the Jets' ultimately make on starting Tebow, the simple fact that they brought him in says it all. Love him or hate him, No. 6 will always create havoc, if nothing else. The second he even put on a uniform, the controversy began. (I, for one, labeled the over/under for Sanchez to lose his job at under 4.5.) While Tebow hasn't played more than three straight plays all season, the player has the good faith that Sanchez doesn't, considering the Jets' offense has scored a mere two touchdowns over the past 12 quarters. Ryan can talk about his emotions all he wants, but at a lucky 2-2 without Holmes and injured All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis, he is the captain of a torpedoed ship. Sanchez has proven that he surely cannot save it, but perhaps Tim Tebow can salvage it.
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