(The Verge)- The New York Jets are quite possibly America’s most controversial, most debated, and most intriguing team in professional sports today. Consider the fact that the New York Giants just won their second Super Bowl in the last five seasons. Consider the fact that over the summer the New York Yankees held a ten game lead in the competitive AL East Division. You can even go so far to say that the New York Mets were surprisingly still in the playoff race; yet, the New York Jets stole nearly all headlines, whether it be newspaper, local news, or televison. That can be attributed to one simple reason; Tim Tebow. This move was not too shocking for Jets fans coming from Rex Ryan. Ryan is famous for bringing in controversial characters such as Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress to name a few. However, Tebow is not controversial because of his off the field issues. Tebow is controversial because analysts, players and fans alike all debate whether he is truly worthy of a starting position in the NFL. The transaction also was viewed as controversial because it put pressure on Jets current starting quarterback Mark Sanchez.
Who should really be the starter?
You have Sanchez on one hand who led the Jets to back to back AFC Championship appearances. On the other hand, you have Tim Tebow, the college Heisman trophy winner, who led the 1-4 Broncos to a dramatic turnaround leading them to the AFC Divisional playoff round. So far this season, Mark Sanchez has played nearly every snap as the Jets starting quarterback. Tebow has only been used sparingly in the “wildcat” formation for running plays, and has yet to record a passing attempt. Although Mark Sanchez threw three touchdowns in the Jets opener and led the Jets to a rout of the Buffalo Bills, the old Sanchez was back on display Sunday afternoon against the Steelers. Sanchez at one point in the game did not record a completion for 128 minutes of real time. He finished the game completing only 37% of his passes and leading the Jets to only one touchdown. The Jets offense simply looked flat all day.
However, there was a moment early in the fourth quarter where Rex Ryan inserted Tim Tebow into the game. Tebow orchestrated three consecutive plays for the Jets; a 22-yard run, a 12-yard run, and a -6 yard run. Let’s take a closer look at these plays. The first play: Tebow takes the snap and fakes a handoff to the running back, eventually carrying the ball himself straight up the gut for a 22-yard gain. After the play was over, Tebow stood straight up and tried to fire up his teammates. As it turns out, Tebow’s run fired up Joe McKnight, the Jets back-up running back. The second play: Tebow takes the snap, and this time hands the ball off to McKnight. Because of the previous play, Pittsburgh was aware that Tebow may be running and were caught off guard by the handoff. The result was a 12-yard gain by McKnight. The Jets were actually moving the ball. Unfortunately on the third play, Tebow once again handed the ball off and the ball carrier was gobbled up in the backfield as a result of poor blocking. Despite the last play, it was clear that Tebow offered the offense a spark that was much needed. After Tebow’s short stint, Sanchez came back onto the field and completed only two more passes the rest of the game.
The question for all Jets fans now is, “What is Tim Tebow’s role in the offense?” Clearly, Tim Tebow needs to be used more often if this offense is going to be as prolific as Rex Ryan believes it can be. If you ask me, Tim Tebow needs to be inserted into the game when Mark Sanchez is visibly off his game, like this Sunday, or in the fourth quarter for a spark.
Let’s examine Tim Tebow’s career stats as a starting quarterback. According to ESPN stats, Tebow has completed a career 47% of passes with 17 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. 47% as a completion percentage is abysmal, while 17 touchdowns and 9 interceptions is nothing to get excited over. However, let’s take a look at Tebow’s career stats in the fourth quarter. In the fourth quarter, Tebow completes 61.3% of passes with 6 touchdowns and only 1 interception. He also has rushed for 193 yards and 2 touchdowns. More impressively, Tebow has led 6 fourth quarter comebacks and 7 game winning drives in only 2 seasons in the NFL. If he continues that pace, he will lead more game winning drives in his career than Tom Brady and Brett Favre.
Clearly the Jets must have brought Tim Tebow to New York for some purpose. In my opinion, Tim Tebow’s role in this offense is to catch the opposition off guard occasionally with the “wildcat” formation, but more importantly to be the “closer” in the fourth quarter. The stats don’t lie. Tim Tebow is clutch. The Jets just need to realize this, otherwise they will live and die with the sporadic Sanchez.