Jets Should Have Started Tebow for Week 17

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The ball is Rex Ryan’s court now, who must show the world again Mark Sanchez is his guy and QB Tim Tebow isn’t worthy of a start. Photo credit: Kirby Lee/USA Today.

Just when you think the Jets’ QB carousel couldn’t get anymore crazier and tiresome, the last week of the NFL’s regular season proves to be the most erratic as Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan announced earlier today that last week’s starter, Greg McElroy, their seventh round pick in the 2011 draft from Alabama, suffered a concussion following his first NFL start against the San Diego Chargers. No.2 on the depth chart a week ago, Mark Sanchez returns to his starting roots in Buffalo this week, in a game that is essentially meaningless for both teams.

Against the Chargers, McElroy was sacked a whopping 11 times, went 14-24 for 185 yards, and threw one interception. At the press conference announcing the news of McElroy’s injury, Ryan referenced the numbers Sanchez posted against Buffalo in the Jets’ inaugural game of the 2012 season, also admitting “…that doesn’t mean Tim [Tebow] won’t play in this game, but, I’m more comfortable starting Mark.” Against the Bills on Sep. 9, Sanchez went 19-27 for 266 yards with three touchdowns and a passer rating of 123.4. Since then, it’s all been downhill for Sanchez, culminating in the infamous “Butt-fumble” Thanksgiving night game versus the division-rival Patriots as well as the Monday night game against the Tennessee Titans where Sanchez threw four interceptions.

Since giving up fourth and sixth round picks for the presence-carrying Tebow back in March, we’ve heard the words “dynamic” and “special” when it came to the Jets’ plans for their offense this season. Used sparingly in the wildcat and even lining up at tight-end in a game against the Miami Dolphins, Tebow has had 39 yards for the year and not a single touchdown to his name for the 2012 season. Depending on who you ask, he may or may not have asked out of the wildcat role in last week’s game against the San Diego Chargers; duties went to WR Jeremy Kerley.

About a year ago, when nothing mattered to them considering they had the No.1 seed locked up as well as home field advantage, the Green Bay Packers started QB Matt Flynn, who had the game of his life, throwing for 480 yards and a whopping six touchdowns. A free agent at the end of the 2011-2012 season, Matt Flynn drew high demand from those looking for a Quarterback; the Cardinals, Jets, and Dolphins, to name a few. Flynn’s stock was never higher, and with Russell Wilson leading the Seahawks to 150 points in their last three games, Flynn could again be on the market.

Tim Tebow

It has been a lost year for Tim Tebow, in terms of production and his career, which already has plenty of questions. Photo credit: Joel Auerbach, Getty Images

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With Sanchez’s confidence clearly shaken, what reason does anyone have to believe that he’ll post numbers similar to Week One against Buffalo? Sure, Sanchez has posted pretty good numbers against them aside from his sixth career start (in 2009) in which he threw five interceptions; but who’s to say the Jets won’t catch lightning in a bottle with Tebow similar to the Packers last year with Flynn? Yes, there are rumblings of Tebow being a terrible practice player, but when the team goes from saying they’ll put him in 20-25 plays a game to not using him at all, the question becomes why are the holding him back? We know what we’re getting with Sanchez– a mediocre performance, so why not give Tebow a shot to appease his large fan-base, as well as the numerous fans all over the league that have been chanting his name since the infamous “butt-fumble” game? One other aspect to think about is if this were a home game; is one really led to believe Ryan would subject his guy Sanchez to a crowd filled with spite and anger in a season gone totally wrong? We may never know who truly authorized this Tebow deal (my guess would be Tannenbaum and owner Woody Johnson, as is probably yours), and while Ryan doesn’t seem like the culprit, I’d have to think a home game would conflict his decision a little bit more.

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Tebow is expected to move on to Jacksonville following this year, and who could blame him? If the Jets were smart, they’d start him; even if he does a poor job–does it really matter? Jacksonville is hungry for a name that sells tickets, and who better than Tebow? If he does well–the Jets end the season on a high note, and while some will call for heads to roll for not using him earlier on in this lost season, it’s very likely the heads of General Manager Mike Tannenbaum, Offensive Coordinator Tony Sparano and perhaps Rex will roll anyway. The Jets owe it to their fans after a season of false hopes and strange controversy, and to Tebow, after costing him a year of his career, whether he’s a quarterback or not.

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