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The One Good Decision the Jets Made


It’s firing day in the NFL.  Since Tebow’s tenure with the Jets will also soon be over, I can’t resist pointing out that Ryan is being criticizied for one of the few smart things anyone in Jets management did this year — i.e. figuring out that Tim Tebow can’t play.  I’ve seen a similar argument elsewhere, but for old time’s sake let’s pick on Gregg Easterbrook:

Did Ryan bypass Tebow because he thinks McElroy can win, or because he fears Tebow can? The latter is more likely. Throughout the season, Ryan has been refusing calls to lift Sanchez for Tebow, who for all his throwing-mechanics faults led Denver to a playoff victory last season. If Tebow came in and won the final two Jersey/B games, fans would be livid: Snoopy Stadium would rock with chants of “Rex Must Go!” Ryan calculates his chance of holding his job would be greater if McElroy played and lost than if Tebow played and won.

There are two different ways Easterbrook could be wrong here. One interpretation is that Ryan is scared that Tebow could “win,” but (pace Easterbrook) this fear is perfectly rational and keeping with the interests of the Jets organization. In the second half the Jets played a lot of bad teams, and indeed overall their schedule was so weak that even with Sanchez being terrible they got 6 wins. But when the Jets eked out a narrow win over the Jaguars or Cardinals, everybody understood that this doesn’t indicate that Sanchez or McElroy are quality quarterbacks. Conversely, if the Jets had started Tebow and beaten the Titans 7-6 after a Titan fumbled an interception and the Jets returned it for a touchdown, to people like Easterbrook this would prove that Tebow JUST WINS FOOTBALL GAMES. This pressure interferes with the Jets’ ability to find a real QB going forward.

But I don’t think this is Easterbrook’s argument. I think his argument is that Tebow would give Jets a better chance of winning than Sanchez. And the problem is that this is almost certainly wrong. Tebow doesn’t just have “throwing-mechanics” issues; he has sub-replacement-level performance issues. But I especially like the Tebow/Sanchez comparison, because it proves that Easterbrook doesn’t take his own argument seriously. After all, if Tebow’s one good playoff game proves that he’s a winner, he still has to sit in favor of Sanchez, who has won four playoff games (all on the road!) And Sanchez was even OK in the two conference championship games his team lost, while without wildcard round MVP Dick Lebeau generously conceding Tebow the only kind of pass he can throw at an NFL level, Tebow was absolutely hopeless against an abysmal New England pass defense in the division round. Because Sanchez isn’t a celebrity Christian missionary nobody thinks that this history of playoff success makes him a QB you want starting for you in 2013, and yet Sanchez has clearly better credentials than Tebow in every respect.

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  • If you let the GM go, fire the coach, too. Ryan is way overrated and this sets up the scenario after next season’s 8-8 (very optimistic) record when the new GM fires Ryan anyway. The Jets aren’t really a sports franchise, they’re a soap opera for men.

    • Rob

      It buys the incoming GM a ready made scapegoat.

    • John

      Isn’t all football a soap opera for men? There’s only 176 minutes of actual play for each team in the regular season. The rest of the enormous amount of time football fans spend on football is spent on extraneous nonsense. This is almost certainly why football is the most popular sport – it involves the least sports.

      • cpinva

        all sports are soap opera’s for men. the only difference between “my show” and “my sport” is the ads.

        Isn’t all football a soap opera for men?

        ok, i think i’m really, really confused. as you correctly note, tim tebow’s lasting contribution to the world of professional athletics is his “glam boy” christian missionary status. since nyc is “satan central”, i’ve never figured out how he ended up there to begin with? shouldn’t he have been snapped up by the cowboys? if nothing else, it would have let them know they’re actually fortunate to have tony romo, self-shooting in the foot as he is at times.

    • greylocks

      I think both Ryan brothers are good coaches working for bad owners. The problem with both the Jets and the Cowboys start at the top.

      I’d take either one of them here in Tampa Bay over Schiano, although they’d just get another bad team run by bad owners.

      • spencer

        bad owners

        It sure is a lucky thing we decided to let the Glazers’ renege on their promise to pay for part of their stadium, isn’t it?

  • Bob

    Ryan had Tebow penciled in as second string at the beginning of the season. The more he saw of him in practice, the more his opinion of him dropped. That is a perfectly defensible change for a head coach to make: see the player frequently, have your opinion of him change based on what you see.

  • Tebow was absolutely hopeless against an abysmal New England pass defense in the division round

    After he’d seen their schemes only a few weeks before, don’t forget. He wasn’t great (or terrible) in that regular season game (11-22 194, 0 TD/0 Int, 8.82 YPA), he regressed in the second one (9-26* 136, 0/0, 5.23).

    *Six of these nine completions were in garbage time!

    But if there’s one thing this year has shown, it’s how vital Tebow was to the Broncos’ success last year.

  • efgoldman

    As a Patriots fan since the AFL was created, I’d just as soon see the Jets get a top five draft choice for the next several years. They’ll screw it up anyway.

  • Tebow is the Mark Fidrych of football–one hot season, big personality, subsequent mediocrity.

    • Someone call Malkin; Lev just wished for Tebow to be crushed to death by a tractor.

    • efgoldman

      To be somewhat fair, Fidrych blew out his arm.

    • Scott Lemieux

      When was Tebow’s hot season? This a slander against Fidrych.

      • djw

        For that matter, where’s the mediocrity?

      • bk

        For that matter, where’s Tebow’s “big personality”?

      • Steve in the ATL

        When was Tebow’s hot season?

        In college

  • Boots Day

    I have to say I think Tebow has become a bit underrated at this point. No, he’s not good, and I wouldn’t want him starting for my team, but he’s a perfectly cromulent second-string quarterback. He can’t throw so well, but he runs well, and he’s pretty good at avoiding turnovers. And his teammates seem to look up to him, which is a nice thing for a quarterback to have.

    If I were a team with an awful QB situation, like the Cardinals or the Jaguars, I’d be happy to give Tebow a few starts.

    • Rob

      All that does is create controversy when you try to bring in a real QB. Tebow is a terrible backup for most teams because there will always be pressure to get him more plays. Unless you have a top starting QB, every single press conference will be about Tebow and how you can get him more snaps.

      • jmauro

        I honestly think Tebow would be a decent tight end or wide receiver, but as you say above there would be so much fan pressure to make him the starting QB.

        I don’t know what team would take a chance and try to convert him to another position, because of the media storm that will always surround him.

        • ADM

          Back in August, I remember the Jets floating the idea that Tebow could be playing special teams (specifically, playing the “up” back on punts.)

          This told me two things: The Jets already knew that Tebow wasn’t qb material yet wanted to get him on the field, but that Tebow wasn’t open to changing positions.

          Can’t blame him – I’m sure he knows his image is wholly dependent upon being the qb. If he’s any other position, his mystique – the entirety of his game – goes “poof.”

          • spencer

            Yeah, but didn’t Jesus have some choice words on the subject of keeping your ego in check? Maybe somewhere in the back?

            I guess what I’m saying is, fuck that arrogant sanctimonious no-arm-having gasbag Tim Tebow.

      • Boots Day

        Well, that’s hardly Tebow’s fault.

        And apart from the Tebow discussion, if any NFL franchise manages its team with the goal of minimizing media questions or fan pressure, they’re probably sunk anyway.

        • Steve in the ATL

          Well, that’s hardly Tebow’s fault.

          Actually, it is: he has refused to consider any position other than QB, even though teams have asked him to.

          • And anyway, what’s the argument that he’s likely to be an NFL-quality TE or FB supposed to be? Sure, he’s big and he knows the game. But guys who play those positions have years of practice behind them. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it seems like it’s just hunch coming from a weird view that Tim Tebow playing football is a necessity.

      • efgoldman

        All that does is create controversy when you try to bring in a real QB. Tebow is a terrible backup for most teams because there will always be pressure to get him more plays.

        Also too, because he can’t throw the way modern QBs are required to, the poor coach would have to have a special package of plays just for the backup.

        Tight end, maybe, or running back. He’s not fast or quick enough to play wideout or even slot. How about linebacker?

        • spencer

          He would *never* stoop to playing defense.

    • It seems Tebow’s good teammate cred should be diminished since refusing to play as a utility wildcat QB after McElroy was named Sanchez’s replacement and Tebow stayed third stringer.

      • Green Caboose

        To be fair to Tebow it’s not clear what actually transpired there, as different things were said.

        There have been a lot of info leaks out of the Jests in recent weeks – so many that I have to wonder if they were intentional. It is clear Ryan has a poor opinion of Tebow from his choices not to play him, and Ryan isn’t beyond creating a rumor like that himself to undermine Tebow – especially if Tebow said something close enough to that. It’s also clear from Tebow’s statement that he was pleading with Ryan to get some real QB time and that could have pissed Ryan off.

        OTOH, it’s not like Tebow hasn’t been caught stretching the truth before. When Elway reported that he gave Tebow the choice between NYJ and JAX Tebow denied it – although Elway had no reason to lie about it – apparently because Tebow realized his JAX fan based was pissed off that he’d jilted them.

        BUT – in terms of a good teammate rep there is a lot of other evidence against that. Perhaps he was a good teammate in Florida when he was recognized by all as the local God, but in Denver he was clearly impatient with any secondary role. Both Orton and Quinn were pissed off that Tebow did nothing to discourage – and tacitly encouraged – the teBowel Movement’s pressure on the team to start Tebow, including the billboard across from Broncos’ HQ – so much so that they fined Tebow. Denver is more disciplined than NYJ (but then most teams are) so the players weren’t openly anti-Tebow while he was here, but since he left many comments have leaked out suggesting annoyance at his poor practice habits, inability to see beyond the first read, and his tendency to allow the media to award him all the credit while he gave rote “I have great teammates” answers that didn’t sound in the least sincere. To a man, every Bronco was thrilled when Manning replaced him.

      • Sherm

        I think it’s fair to say that this talentless, self-promoting phony was finally exposed in his final days as a jet. He’ll be out of the nfl by 2014.

        • apocalipstick

          And in the US House of Representatives by 2020 and the Senate by 2026.

          • LosGatosCA

            Just like Heath Shuler.

    • Joshua

      The problem with Tebow as a second string is that he just can’t operate in a pro offense. The success in Denver came from John Fox revamping the offense mid-season to accomodate Tebow’s skill set.

      A second string QB needs to be a guy they can just slot in and run the same plays everyone has been practicing. Not as well, obviously, but do it so the team is a semblance of what it was before. Tebow absolutely cannot do that.

      • LosGatosCA


      • Green Caboose

        Exactly. He had limited success playing the standard offense at the end of 2010 in meaningless games against other non-playoff teams that didn’t prep well and in the first SD game when he entered mid-game. But once teams did prep for him he was hopeless. They were down 15-0 vs. winless Miami with pathetic QB stats until they got two lucky passes (requiring incredible athletic catches), a lucky on-side kick, and a lucky fumble recovery in FG range in overtime, to win. The next week Detroit killed them so bad and Tebow looked so bad that everyone figured Tebow was done.

        But then, to their great credit, Fox and McCoy chose to use the bye week to install a Florida-style option offense. Interesting choice. I guess they figured that that they had no good options so it was worth a shot. Oakland was totally unprepared for it and it worked the best it did all year. The next week KC was somewhat prepared but the ineptness of KC’s Offense and some luck allowed Denver to win with Tebow only 2 of 8. Then things got crazy, winning 4 games (2 in OT) by slim margins on a combo of good D, a lot of luck, and opponents still not able to make the complete adjustment needed (as with Tebow’s TD run against NYJ – the defense blitzed the middle and let him free to run outside). Then NE adjusted in the 2nd qtr and totally shut him down and the defensive book on Tebow was complete – he was destroyed by Buffalo and lost to KC 7-3 with no offense at all. Only Dick LeBeau’s strange defensive scheme prevented Tebow from ending on a 4 game streak of total ineptitude.

        So it’s crazy to think this guy is a second stringer – he cannot be successful in a standard offense if the other team has time to prep for him – he might be useful as a surprise substitution mid-game, but that’s it.

        And furthermore, the Denver evidence suggests that he won’t be successful in a Tebow-specific offense either now that teams have figured out how to play him. Unlike RG3 or Russel Wilson he isn’t a passing threat unless a player is obviously wide open so defenses can play close and shut down his running lanes.

    • greylocks

      he’s a perfectly cromulent second-string quarterback

      Admit it. You posted this just so you could use that word.

    • wengler

      If Tebow weren’t treated as the Second Coming he could be a good role player, even though he is undersized in today’s NFL.

      • If Tebow was not believed to be a first cousin of Jesus, himself, his career would be similar to that of Gino Torretta.

        • Sherm

          Exactly. He parlayed his religion into an nfl career. Goddamn phony

  • Which, Boots, is apparently what will happen next year. How much did FL taxpayers pay to their new QB?

    In (weak tea) defense of Sanchez, see how well your QB appears to perform without his two best receivers and a key offensive lineman or two. (This is the OL that lead to McElroy being concussed with the most sacks the Jets have ever given up.*)

    *No, I don’t care that the NFL counts the Scab Games as if they were real.

  • T. Paine

    Tebow convinced me a benevolent god exists! He left Denver the same time I moved there from New York, so I haven’t had to hear about him at all. If that’s not an answer to prayers, I don’t know what is!

    • efgoldman

      He left Denver the same time I moved there from New York, so I haven’t had to hear about him at all.

      Hell, I live near Providence RI, twenty minutes from Gillette Stadium and in the Boston radio/TV market, and I hear about him all the goddamned time. Maybe it because we all hate the J-E-T-S so much, but shit, I hate it.

    • You have a very, very personal god.

      • Bill Murray

        and loving

  • James E Powell

    Kind of surprised that Ryan survives, but it is the Jets, so who can tell? Also too, how does Schwartz keep his job?

    • Good question about Schwartz. Detroit is still the place where football coaches go to die.

  • liberal

    Easterbrook? Blech. The one and only reasonable point I ever recall the guy making is that only nukes should be considered WMD.

    • Because poison gas is so selective?

      • Bill Murray

        hey it only destroys lungs and livers, so quite selective

      • Pseudonym

        More selective than, say, land mines, which aren’t considered WMDs AFAIK.

  • Lacking Moral Fiber aka Useless Muthfucka frmly Nemesis

    I can not remember any other athelete in the 50 years Ive been following football that is so routinely felated as Juicebox Jeebus. He had a solid college career. Now its big boy ball time and timmy cant cut it. No shame in that. Its happened to many a man. Problem, timmy and his minions know nothing about manhood. And yes, ESPN and the like have turned football into a salacious sideshow pathetic enough to make Rupert Murdock envious.

    • LosGatosCA

      Bret Favre.

      • efgoldman

        Favre was a great QB who won, at least for a while. Unfair comparison, unless you’re just talking about the media’s favorite fellation object.

        • LosGatosCA

          Strictly the fellating part. The Favre retirement/unretirement episodes were a complete embarrassment at every stop.

          Luckily, after he dissed Rodgers for only winning as many Super Bowls as he did, the hero worshipping at ESPN subsided quite a bit.

  • ocularity

    A lot of profit in football derives from merchandize and concession sales. I’m convinced that the Jets signed Tebow solely to market jerseys and bobbleheads to Tri-state fundies for a quick Christmas buck.

  • Next question: Is Ryan’s slow trigger finger responsible for Munchak keeping his job?

  • Joe

    Tebow wasn’t that good in Denver, but you know, he managed to play decently enough. He probably has some ability to play & if you are going to sign him, play the guy some. The way they used him was downright random at times. Even Gruden on MNF was led to criticize and that just isn’t his thing.

    Why NOT play him yesterday, e.g.? Afraid he’d do bad & the Jaguars (2-14) will suddenly say “OH NO! can’t take him off their hands!” Someone will probably take Vick, after his 42-7 perf yesterday even with all his baggage. Too late in the week to prep him? Yeah, don’t want a lousy result like a 28-9 drubbing or something.

    I think there is something to the idea that by some quirk Tebow would do good short term (heck, even McElroy managed to score a bit before he was knocked around silly, including a few times at the end that was rather gratuitous) against let’s say TN (which just BEGGED the Jets to take that game) & there will be some chatter about it was something they worried about.

    I don’t think he would be their savior or anything. Hard to get much WORSE than the last few games and if anything the hyper-safe plan they would likely use might make the games less painful. Still, should have let him start at least that last game or be McElroy’s back-up. It was like a fourth pre-season game, and that is what you do. You play your scrubs.

  • c u n d gulag

    Go North, St. Timmeh of Times Square – become Jesus of Northareth.

    The Canadian Football League, might have some use for you.

    A hockey team with a Goalie who can’t skate a lick, is probably far better off than a football team with a QB who can’t throw the ball at all.

    • Colin Day

      How much do goalies have to skate?

    • apocalipstick

      As a fan of the CFL, I think Tebow might actually be quite successful there. His mobility and running ability make that big field awfully inviting. His sub-NFL accuracy and wonky release would not be as crippling in the Great White North. Frankly, I’d love to see him try it.

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