|Steelers LB Lawrence Timmons hits Jets QB Mark Sanchez during Week 2's game. (US Presswire)|
Like it or not -- and, yes, we know, many of you hate it -- Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow will be inextricably linked this season. And as such, we plan to chart their ups and downs from one week to the next in something we're calling Sanchbow: Chronicling the Jets' QBs in 2012.
Now this looked more like the Jets team that we saw in the preseason: an offense unsettled at right tackle, questions at wide receiver and running back and with no idea if the quarterback(s) is a viable long-term solution. New York came into Heinz Field on Sunday seven days after hanging 48 points on a hapless Bills team. Though the Steelers were without two of their best defensive players -- Troy Polamalu and James Harrison -- the Jets' offense was nonexistent after two first-quarter drives produced 10 points.
Some perspective: New York's final eight drives that spanned the final three quarters ended like this: punt, end of half, punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, end of game. The Steelers scored 24 points during that same span and, well, you're not going to win a lot of games playing like that.
Not much to smile about in Week 2. (Click to enlarge)
Sanchez finished 10-of-27 for 138 yards, including a nice touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes. Brief glimpses of chemistry with Holmes aside, it's tough to get excited about your fourth-year franchise quarterback completing only 37 percent of his passes (Sanchez started the game 4-of-6 before going 6-of-22 the rest of the way). Then again, it's hard to realistically expect much more than that when the Jets are facing an above-average defense (even one missing its two best players) given the current state of the wide receiver corps. There's the mercurial Holmes and … that's it.
Tight end Dustin Keller was out with an injury, and that was huge. But even with Keller healthy, Sanchez doesn't have many viable options. Stephen Hill is raw, Jeremy Kerley is Jeremy Kerley and the Dolphins (the only team in the league with a worse situation at wideout) thought so much of Clyde Gates that they cut him before the season. After the game, Sanchez diplomatically blamed it on execution (John McKay's all for it).
"Everything we prepared for, a lot of pressures that looked the same as we saw in practice," he said afterwards. "For the most part, the guys kept me upright. We've just got to be better throwing and catching."
Shonn Greene had some promising runs early but suffered a head injury in the first half and was understandably ineffective after that. It would've been the perfect opportunity to bring in Tebow, who played a whopping three offensive snaps. He did his Tebow-tastic best (one carry, 22 yards, two handoffs), but it's more unclear than ever why the Jets traded for him this spring. Luckily, coach Rex Ryan can explain.
“We've always said from Day 1 we can do it 20 times, 40 times, 10 times, two times, whatever, but we determine that,” he said via the New York Post.
So why take Tebow out after he came in and promptly jump-started the offense? Because, as Ryan explains, the Jets were "behind the sticks" following a Greene run that lost six yards leaving the Jets in second-and-16. Putting that through the Rex-o-lator: "Yeah, we're not letting Tebow throw the ball unless both of Sanchez's arms are broken." But what Rex might be thinking and what he says are two different things.
“He can pass,” Ryan said of Tebow. “Right now, we think Mark gives us the best chance to be successful in that particular situation against that particular opponent. Those are things that we'll always look at. But I believe Tim can pass and, you know, we'll make the decision on when a guy's out there, when he's not out there or whatever.”
If nothing else, it appears the Jets are primarily a one-quarterback team. That's good news for Sanchez because it means fewer distractions and, more importantly, more snaps. And knowing that the coaches don't appear to have much confidence in Tebow outside of running and protecting on punts makes it much easier for Sanchez to come out for a handful of plays every game, too.
"As soon as Mark gets to the sidelines he's like, 'Oh, what's next? What are you thinking?' " offensive coordinator Tony Sparano said in defending the rare instances when Tebow comes in. "For me, it's an additional timeout ... it's another way to get more information to him. I think those are real positive things during the course of a game."
Maybe, but there wasn't much positive to take from Sunday's loss. The biggest takeaway was this: Why did the Jets spend any time going after Tebow -- especially if there are no plans to use him -- when that time would've been better spent on finding a right tackle or wide receivers?
With the Jets trailing 17-10 in the third quarter and facing a third-and-16, the Steelers rush four but OLB LaMarr Woodley easily beats RT Austin Howard to the outside and QB Mark Sanchez doesn't have a chance. Four plays later, Pittsburgh's offense would score again, effectively putting the game out of reach. (Click to enlarge)
Tracking Tebow, Redux
We spent many, many, many words last season on the Phenomenon that was Tebow and we could very well end up doing it again. ("Tracking Tebow" was supposed to be a preseason feature because coach John Fox told everyone that Kyle Orton was the Broncos' starter. That lasted a month. At this point, we wouldn't be surprised if Tebow eventually earns the Jets' gig and is subsequently named head coach, owner and NFL commissioner.) For now, we'll just update his progress from one week to the next until the inevitable happens.
Another week, and nothing much to report on the Tebow front. He had one carry for 22 yards and that was about it. Oh, and he lined up wide in punt formation and forced the Steelers to burn a timeout though we're guessing that wasn't the sole reason he was brought to New York. When asked about his current role, Tebow gave a decidedly Tebow response: “I just go in when they tell me and try to do the best I can in whatever role."
Eye on Sanchbow
|This is the only time that Tebow is allowed to throw: pads off, before the game. (AP)|