In some ways, the New York Jets’ quarterback controversy began in the offseason, with the signing of polarizing quarterback Tim Tebow. The Jets’ Mark Sanchez had never played at an elite level, but had showed improvement in his first two seasons, and, most importantly, he had won games. But his third season was only marginally better than his second, statistically, and the Jets hadn’t won anything.
Enter Tebow, the Broncos’ quarterback who also didn’t put up impressive stats, but “just won.” What an odd pair of QBs to put together. Nevertheless, it seemed clear that coach Rex Ryan would use Sanchez as the starter and Tebow in select “wildcat” situations to try and help the Jets’ offense along.
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But the Jets’ offense has been dreadful this season, especially through the air where they were ranked 28th coming into this weekend. And their 4-7 record made it clear that no one was “just winning” anything. In what appeared to be a media created controversy, however, several Jets’ players were apparently asked whether Sanchez should be benched in favor of Tebow. One unnamed player called Tebow “terrible” while LG Matt Slauson simply said that Sanchez was “by far” the best Jets’ quarterback, which ordinarily sounds like choosing to say something positive until you consider that Mark Sanchez has been dreadful this season so if he’s “by far” the best they’ve got then Tebow must something even below “terrible” in Slauson’s opinion.
Again coach Rex Ryan attempted to clamp down on the chatter, telling his players it was “cowardly” to secretly attack Tim Tebow in the media. To be fair to Tebow, he’s been a pretty good sport through all of this, with no whining or complaining about playing time. Keep in mind, this is a guy who led his team to the playoffs last year and the guy in front of him isn’t getting the job done. Ryan, Tebow, Sanchez and the Jets all seemed to get a reprieve from this talk when Tebow sustained an injury and couldn’t have played even if the coach or the team wanted him to.
Problem solved, right? Wait, this gets much, much better. Fast forward now to this week’s game against the Arizona Cardinals, with the 4-7 Jets clinging to their slim playoff chances. Mark Sanchez goes out and. . .turns in one of the worst performances of his career, going 10 for 21 for 97 yards and three interceptions. That was right up until 5:00 left in the third quarter when he got benched. But not for Tebow. Remember, Tebow was hurt. So enter Greg McElroy.
McElroy was a 7th round pick of the Jets in 2010. He had never thrown a pass in an NFL game. Of course, he did win a national title with Alabama in 2009, so I guess you could say “all he had done was win.” That’s exactly what he did on Sunday. McElroy came in and completed 5 of 7 passes for 29 yards and a touchdown. He also carried the ball twice for 7 yards (before two game-ending kneeldowns) and avoided taking a sack. Doesn’t sound like much? Go back and read what Sanchez did in this game.
Greg McElroy? It could be.
And so the Jets will enter next week with a new controversy on their hands. Sanchez? Tebow? McElroy? McElroy got a standing ovation when he entered the game in the third, and I don’t think it’s because MetLife Stadium was filled with Crimson Tide fans. Would Tebow be a better option than McElroy. Would the best move actually be to continue to stick with Sanchez? Not my problem. And although the Jets are 5-7 and still miles away from the playoffs, for one more week at least, people will be talking about them with some passion, and that’s worth something in a town where they’re competing with a team that’s won two Super Bowls in the last half dozen years.