|Sanchez probably won't be happy if Tebow takes over in the red zone. (Getty Images)|
However, a report from Rich Cimini of ESPN on Thursday is definitely causing a stir, as Cimini reports that the Jets plan to yank Sanchez from the game in favor of Tebow when the team gets in the red zone.
As Cimini points out, the Jets have said that Tebow's the backup quarterback and that he'll be in Wildcat-type packages.
"[The Jets] haven't divulged any specifics, but it'll probably be closer to the read-option offense he ran in Denver than a true Wildcat, which is a direct snap to a running back," Cimini writes. "Team insiders say the plan is to use Tebow in the red zone, where they can replace Sanchez with another player/blocker to bolster the running game."
There's no disputing that Tebow's the backup. Rex Ryan's made sure that's clear to everyone who will listen. And that's smart of him, because he'd probably like as little attention paid to the non-competitive competition as possible.
But if the Jets really do plan on plugging in Tebow every single time they get into the red zone, it's going to end very, very poorly. Sanchez is going to end up furious (quarterbacks are programmed to score touchdowns; not hand them off to someone else), or he's going to end up booed, unless Tebow simply can't get into the end zone.
This is entirely possible -- my CBSSports.com colleague Pat Kirwan did an excellent breakdown of Tebow and Sanchez in the red zone, noting that Sanchez, for all his flaws, is actually quite good near the goal line.
"Sanchez has thrown 43 red zone touchdown passes in 53 games. Six of those TD passes came in six postseason games," Kirwan wrote. "Tebow has nine red zone TD passes in his 25 games and none in his two postseason games. The strategy is also puzzling when you consider that more teams score in the red zone throwing than running. Last year there were 342 rushing touchdowns and 492 passing touchdowns in the red zone.
"Mark Sanchez threw 21 of his 26 touchdown passes in the red zone and only threw three interceptions. Is Tim Tebow going to run for 21 touchdowns in the red zone?"
The answer to that hypothetical is "Um, no." In each of Tebow's first two seasons in the NFL, he ran for six touchdowns. And do you know how many touchdowns Tim Tebow ran for in the greatest season of his career, 2007 when he played at Florida? 23.
Think about that: it would take Tebow's greatest season ever in terms of running the ball in the red zone to top what Sanchez has done as a pro. And Tebow won't be running against the likes of Western Kentucky, Troy, Florida Atlantic and Vanderbilt either.
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