Quarterback Tim Tebow made his Jets debut against the Bengals in a preseason game over the weekend, completing four of six passes and throwing one pick. The former Bronco passed for a total of 27 yards and added 34 more rushing as the Jets unveiled a secret new "Wildcat"-style offense that gives them the option to play to Tebow's strengths as a runner. Yet the newcomer's contentious relationship with current Jets starter — and arguably perennial underachiever — Mark Sanchez remains one of the bigger story lines early on in this NFL season, as the two fight for the same job. While neither looked particularly dominant in the opener (Sanchez finished four of six passes for just 21 yards), the Jets are looking to rebound from a disappointing 2011-2012 season where they finished with eight wins and eight losses. Tebow, who captivated NFL fans last season with an unlikely string of victories, could potentially give the team the spark it desperately needs. Should coach Rex Ryan pull the trigger and supplant the incumbent Sanchez with his God-fearing rival?
It's worth considering: Making Tebow a starter is "not inconceivable," says Chris Trapasso at Bleacher Report, and could actually make the Jets better. Tebow is a powerful runner, and Coach Ryan has said repeatedly that he wants to return to a "ground-and-pound" offense that sidesteps the Jets' passing deficiencies. If Tebow has indeed improved as a thrower like he said he has, it would theoretically negate any advantage that starting Sanchez (an average passer in his own right) would provide while giving the team the added dimension of a running game. Naming Tebow the starter after limited preseason action "wouldn't be fair to Sanchez, but, sometimes, the NFL isn't fair."
"Can Tim Tebow take the starting job in New York before opening weekend?"
No. Sanchez is still the man: "All the talk, hype, and attention devoted to Tim Tebow can take a big hit if Mark Sanchez does one thing," says Justin Terranova at the New York Post: "Play well." Tebow may grab all the headlines, but as the Jets' upper brass reiterated during the off-season, Sanchez is still the starter, even though he'll have to make due with a lack of worthy targets (save Santonio Holmes, with whom Sanchez reportedly has an icy relationship ). If Sanchez plays even halfway decent to start the season off, the question of whether a shaky but exciting Tebow should replace him will be a non-issue.
Jets' Sanchez will face 'brutal' situation if he struggles
Unfortunately, this question will just keep coming up: Anytime Tebow "does anything, good or bad, quarterback or otherwise," people are going to draw conclusions about what that means for Mark Sanchez, says Will Leitch at New York. The Jets brought this upon themselves. Saying that Sanchez was and still is their guy "is the reason the trade for Tebow was so odd in the first place." All New York managed to do was create another media circus. "People are going to speculate — not just media, but players and fans and anyone keeping so much as a cursory eye on the team." And when the Jets play their next exhibition on Saturday night against the crosstown rival Giants, we "get to go through all this all over again."
"The Tebow madness is upon us"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- China's leader is telling the People's Liberation Army to prepare for war
- The best books we read in 2014
- How I lost all my money
- How to save money: 12 great personal finance tips
- Why Pakistan won't hunt down the terrorists within its borders
- The religious right isn't retreating — it's reforming
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- How to wrap a present with mathematical precision (and waste less paper)
- Diagnosing the Home Alone burglars' injuries: A professional weighs in
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
Subscribe to the Week