(The Verge)- The New York Jets came flying out of the gates to start the 2012 NFL season, shocking many by scoring 48 points on the heavily favored AFC East rival Buffalo Bills. A lot of people were stunned to see Sanchez throw for three touchdowns, while Tim Tebow struggled to run the ball in the Wildcat formation, amassing 11 yards on 5 carries.
The Jets and their fans got snapped back to reality after their week 2 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Sanchez led a 90 yard scoring drive on the Jets first offensive possession, hitting former Steeler Santonio Holmes for a touchdown, and Jets fans were thinking it would be a good day. It all took a turn for the worse however, as Sanchez and the offense looked like the offense that struggled like it did during the preseason. Sanchez almost went three quarters without even completing a pass to a wide receiver! To put all the blame on Sanchez isn’t fair, as he clearly lacks the weapons around him. His wide receivers, Jeremy Kerley and Stephen Hill were pretty much invisible the entire game, as they struggled to get away and gain separation from the Steeler’s cornerbacks physical pressure at the line of scrimmage. With Santonio Holmes proving he is not the number 1 receiver the Jets need him to be, this makes it all the more reason for the Jets to consistently run the ball.
When the Jets hired Tony Sparano to run the offense, he immediately came in and said the Jets will get back to that “Ground and Pound” mentality. While the Jets did run the ball plenty of times Week 1, they couldn’t get anything going against a Steelers defense that was without star safety Troy Polamalu and lineman James Harrison. Shonn Greene has maddened Jets fans and fantasy owners alike with his inconsistencies running the ball. Greene left the Steelers game after suffering a head injury, and his backups, Joe McKnight and Bilal Powell failed to impress.
Enter Tim Tebow. Tebow came to New York to be the backup to Sanchez, as well as run the ball in the wildcat. Tebow ran the ball 1 time against the Steelers for 22 yards, pumping his arms in excitement, desperately trying to get the Jets’ offense rolling. He didn’t have a carry after that, and Sanchez and the offense continued to struggle. The Jets need to utilize Tebow more though. The Jets should use him more as a running back or fullback. Tebow is a beast of a man, with a crazy workout ethnic. He is 6’3 and weighs 250 pounds, and when you see him in person he is a giant. Shonn Greene has always been at his best when he splits carries with another running back, like he did a few years ago when the Jets had Thomas Jones. Greene clearly can’t carry the load by himself, and if Tebow was able to get between 10-15 carries as a running back, that would truly equal a ground and pound offense. By the fourth quarter, many teams will be tired from having to stop two big, physical running backs.
Tebow shouldn’t be replacing Sanchez, no matter what the Tebow fanatics think. Sanchez has shown that he is clearly the better QB of the two, and with protection and time he can throw the football. Tebow is not a good thrower at all, but as a runner he is hard to tackle and is fast and agile for a man his size. Tebow would definitely help to get the running game going. He plays with such a raw emotion that any big run gets him pumped up and can help inspire the team, which had a number of locker room issues last year. With the Jets lacking weapons for Sanchez to throw to, they will need to run the ball more, especially to keep other offenses off of the field and to give the Jets defense a breather from time to time.
For the upcoming Week 3 game against another AFC East rival team, the Miami Dolphins, the Jets should definitely insert Tebow in as a running back. The Dolphins haven’t allowed a back to rush for over 100 yards in 16 games, so Tebow splitting the carries with Shonn Greene (if healthy to play) will definitely keep the Dolphins on their toes and hopefully wear out their physical defense so Sanchez can throw a touchdown or two. Will the Jets realize they need to utilize the man who came to New York with much hype and fanfare? Or will they continue to give carries to unproven backs like Joe McKnight instead? It would definitely seem more like ground and pound if you have a 6’3, 250 pound man in the backfield ready to run over opposing defenses.