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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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