That Tim Tebow has not supplanted Mark Sanchez as the starting quarterback of the New York Jets despite the incumbent's struggles this season speaks volumes. Given Sanchez's consistent inaccuracy and penchant for red zone turnovers, any vote for the status quo by decision makers with this 3-6 team can easily be viewed as a vote against Tebow.
Among the other things that can be considered votes against Tebow are the actual votes against Tebow emanating from the locker room.
“He’s terrible,” an unnamed player described as "a defensive starter" told Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News.
While these latest comments about Tebow to the News will generate headlines in New York, they hardly come as a surprise given the team's statements about the backup as well as the history of anonymous sniping with this group. After the Jets' 28-7 loss in Seattle, Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie didn't hold back when asked what he would tell anyone calling for Tebow to replace Sanchez.
Although Tebow told The News last month that he has made improvements as a quarterback over the past few months, none of the people in the organization who spoke to The News shared that sentiment.
Both offensive and defensive players admitted that they hadn’t noticed any appreciable improvement in Tebow’s quarterback skills in practice since he was traded to the Jets in March. Tebow has been a poor practice player throughout his career. His current teammates echoed sentiments from Denver Broncos players a year ago about the lefthanded signal caller’s poor practice performance.
The 3-6 Jets’ dwindling playoff chances haven’t changed this mind-set in the locker room: Tebow isn’t a panacea.
Despite Mark Sanchez’s league-low 52% completion rate and league-high four red-zone interceptions, the players believe he should remain the starter over Tebow, who has accounted for only 132 total yards and averaged seven offensive snaps per game. Rex Ryan has backed Sanchez without publicly guaranteeing that he will be the starting quarterback for the rest of the season.
Left guard Matt Slauson, who has repeatedly supported Sanchez, made it clear that the fourth-year signal caller is the Jets’ best quarterback.
“It’s not even close,” Slauson said. “All the other quarterbacks know it. I have all the confidence in Mark. We don’t really have a choice.”
When asked about the team’s two other quarterbacks on the depth chart as possible alternatives — Tebow and Greg McElroy — Slauson clarified that the Jets really have only one other quarterback.
“We have Greg . . . and we have an athlete,” Slauson said.
But could the Jets win with Tebow as the No. 1 quarterback?
“Do I have to answer that question?” a veteran starter said, shaking his head.
To most of the people in the organization, Tebow is nothing more than a specialty player who doesn’t have the requisite skills to be a true quarterback in the league. “We don’t look at him as a quarterback,” another starter said. “He’s the Wildcat guy.”
The designation dismisses Tebow’s success in Denver last season. Despite Tebow’s magic from a year ago, the Jets still view Sanchez as a much better option and have no immediate plans to bench him, according to sources. None of the members of the organization interviewed by The News believed that a zone-read offense tailored to Tebow’s strengths can help the Jets reverse their fortunes.
“Hell, no!” another starter said. “You got to keep defenses honest. You just can’t line up in the Wildcat all the time. That won’t work.”
Tebow’s legs provide a tempting alternative for the Jets’ slumping offense. “That’s the real threat he brings,” defensive lineman Mike DeVito said.
“He’s a winner,” said a Jets source, who made it clear that even though he wanted Tebow to get more playing time, Sanchez should remain the starter. “If he stays on the field long enough, usually good things happen.”
But most members of the Jets don’t believe that what they saw from Tebow last season is sustainable. “We can’t win running that sh--,” one player said.
They think Tebow’s heroics in Denver were a mirage.
“Now we’re depending on miracles?” a member of the organization said. “You can’t play that way.”
However, Sanchez’s poor play raises legitimate questions about whether a change — if only temporary — is in order for a team that has lost nine of the last 12 games dating back to last season.
The decision-makers don’t think that’s the right course of action. “It would take extreme poor play. . . . like a five-interception game,” said a prominent member of the organization. “Something where it was just ridiculous. It would take Mark to totally just sh-- the bed and become unglued (before there was a quarterback change).”
The organization has factored Sanchez’s weak supporting cast of skill position players into the equation.
“Look at some of the players he’s throwing to,” a Jets official said. “It’s garbage.”
Said another Jets source: “I’ve seen better receiving corps in college than we have on our team.”