The New York Jets have been an example in dysfunction this season as the quarterback situation has blown up in the teams face. After trading for Tim Tebow in the offseason, head coach Rex Ryan and the organization touted his skills as a player and how they would use him as a Wildcat option along with Mark Sanchez.
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The quarterbacks and the coaches said that there would be no issues with Tebow playing a backup role and that he would figure into the offense in some way during the year. ESPN covered the Jets' training camp as if it were a shuttle launch and continued to cover Tebow until finally network President John Skipper mandated that shows take it down a notch in December.
So what was everyone saying when Tebow first arrived and during training camp? How did it turn out later down the line for the Jets? Let's take a look.
-- "I think we'll have a great relationship and, hopefully, we'll thrive together," said Tebow, adding that Sanchez seemed excited about the pairing when they talked last week by phone. Quote from ESPNNewYork.com from March when Tebow was introduced to the media.
Tebow and Sanchez seemed to be getting along fine for most of the season, but things hit a wall recently when Ryan benched Sanchez in favor of third-stringer Greg McElroy. While the move doesn't mean that Tebow has any animosity towards Sanchez, it's clear that Tebow was hoping to get the starting job at some point.
Many times during the season Sanchez has shown frustration on his face when he is rotated out of games for Tebow for a few plays. There were a few times, even as recently as the Tennessee game last week, when Sanchez was in a rhythm on the field, then was forced to come out for Tebow. One example was in the 28-7 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, when Sanchez completed a 32-yard pass to Dustin Keller in the fourth quarter and then was pulled for Tebow.
-- "We're adding another player and we're not replacing anybody," Sanchez said. " ... I'm not worried about losing my spot but I think [general manager Mike Tannenbaum and coach Rex Ryan] have been perfectly clear on the purpose of the signing is to add a new wrinkle and not to replace anybody." Quote from ESPNNewYork.com from March when Tebow was introduced to the media.
Tebow never actually did take over Sanchez's spot-but Greg McElroy did. Sanchez has been terrible this season, completing just 54 percent of his passes while throwing for 2,678 yards and 13 touchdowns. He has 17 interceptions this season with 12 fumbles and has turned the ball over 50 times in the past two years, more than anyone in the NFL.
-- "I don't see Tim just holding a clipboard," Ryan told a group of reporters in Florida. "He's going to be playing for us. There is no doubt." Ryan added: "There won't be a better Wildcat quarterback in the game. Is that his only role? I don't believe that. We'll see." Quote from ESPNNewYork.com from March when Tebow was introduced to the media.
So far this season Tebow has been on the field for approximately 70 snaps on offense. He has completed six-of-eight passed for just 39 yards and rushed the ball 32 times for 102 yards without scoring a touchdown. He has barley factored into the offense and shown only flashes on certain plays, including on fake punts.
-- "First and foremost, I've always said that I'm a football player first, and then a quarterback. But that's always been my dream and what I've wanted to be is a quarterback," he said, adding: "I'm excited to be a Jet and help this team in any way that I can in whatever my role is, and if I can expand that role, I'm going to try to do that. Quote from ESPNNewYork.com from March when Tebow was introduced to the media.
Tebow did not show the Jets enough for them to give him the starting job when Sanchez was benched. Despite being the backup quarterback all season, he will not be starting for the Jets when they take the field on Sunday against the Chargers. The idea of being on the sidelines one year ago would seem crazy to Tebow after he led the Broncos to a thrilling overtime playoff win against the Steelers last season, but that's his job now for the Jets.
-- "He has to make it work," a former general manager said of Ryan. "If he doesn't, it's all fluff. He's got as much pressure on him as Sanchez. He can't screw up the quarterback deal; he'll lose credibility, big time. It's going to be a slippery slope because Rex is probably feeling pressure to win." Quote from ESPNNewYork.com story from Jets training camp.
Ryan so far has not made the situation work. If anything, things have only gotten worse since Tebow was acquired. Quarterbacks are supposed to take a step to the next level in their fourth season, but bringing in Tebow has only hurt the development of Sanchez and may be the move that ends the Ryan and Tannenbaum era in New York.
--"One of my favorite quotes is, 'I don't know what my future holds, but I know who holds my future,'" Tebow said in minicamp. "That is something that gives me peace and comfort in whatever situation I'm in and whatever circumstances are thrown my way. That's how I try to handle everything. I'm not too worried about being The Man; I'm just worried about being the best man I can be." Quote from ESPNNewYork.com story from Jets training camp.
Tebow was a good solider for nearly the entire season, barely speaking up about his role on the punt team or his lack of playing time on offense. Things finally boiled over on Wednesday as he voiced his frustration at being passed over to start this week's game.
"All you can ask for, all you want is a chance -- a chance to go out and play the game you love and help this team win football games," he said. "That's all I wanted. I tried to make the most of every opportunity I had. I would've loved to have had more."
--"For me to go out and put something on the field and give somebody a month to prepare for it ... No disrespect, but you guys could figure it out in a month," offensive coordinator Tony Sparano told a room of reporters. "I might have a chance to figure out your job in a month. A month is a long time. I'm not interested in that." Quote from ESPNNewYork.com story on keeping the Wildcat a secret during training camp.
The Jets have barely used the Wildcat this year and when they have, it has been ineffective. Sparano has directed one of the worst offenses in the league and has left Tebow on the sidelines for most of the year. The Jets are ranked 30th in passing with 181 yards per game and are averaging just 18 points per contest.
The team acted during training camp as if the Wildcat was something that no one had ever seen before and that would give the team a competitive advantage, as opponents would have to practice it during the week. So far it has done nothing for the Jets except to distract the team from the play on the field and to point out how Tebow has not been used in the right way.
So what does all this mean for the future?
Head coach Rex Ryan may be in New York for next season, but he will have to show to owner Woody Johnson that his team is competing over the last two games despite being eliminated from the playoffs.
Sanchez is not the answer for the future, but unless the team decides to trade him, they likely will keep him on the roster as at least a backup. He is over $8 million in guaranteed money and would be a $17 million cap hit for the Jets if he is cut.
Tebow is likely to be traded, although a couple months ago Johnson said he would remain with the team for his full three-year contract. The fact that the Jets have seldom used Tebow only plays into the conspiracy theory that he was brought there strictly for business purposes to sell seats and jerseys.
The Jets could find a suitable trade option for Tebow, but that would depend on other teams and their willingness to build an offense around him, something New York was unwilling to do. Denver did do that last season, but opted out of it right away once Peyton Manning hit the market.
No matter what happens the rest of the year, it will be a dramatic offseason for the New York Jets, just the way they like it.