|You can't stop Mark Sanchez and his 4.6 yards per attempt, you can only hope to contain him. (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.
Devil's in the details
Clearly, the Jets have made a deal with the devil. We don't say that metaphorically, either. First, there was Tim Tebow celebrating the team's appearance in the 666th Monday Night Football game last week, then there was this little nugget that made the rounds prior to Sunday's 35-9 win over the Colts.
That's a lot of 6's.
Whatever otherworldly power that coach Rex Ryan might or might not have summoned, the Jets finally looked like the ground-and-pound outfit that we'd heard so much about during the offseason but saw virtually none of through the first month and a half. A lot of that had to do with New York being thoroughly outplayed and often finding themselves in need of a lot of points in a short amount of time. Not a situation ideal to running the ball.
Sanchbow is back, baby! (Click to enlarge)
You could rightly point out that the Colts are barely an NFL team; they're coming off a two-win season, cleaned house this spring, and are in the process of rebuilding around their franchise quarterback.
Fair enough. But Indy also beat Green Bay a week ago which, if nothing else, reinforces the "Any given Sunday" bromide. And on this Sunday, it was all Jets, all afternoon. It was a refreshing change, if for no other reason than we were spared the "Is this the week they go to Tebow" speculation.
(Yes, the irony of that remark given this is not lost on us. In fact, it was delivered with all the subtlety of a frying pan to the face.)
So what to make of the Jets' quarterback performances? Not a whole lot, really. This is what happens when the running game accounts for 72 percent of the offense and Sanchez throws a whopping 18 passes for 82 yards, none longer than 12 yards.
(The longest pass of the day came courtesy of Tim Tebow -- on a fake punt, no less -- when he successfully found Nick Bellore on a play similar to the one that ended Dedrick Epps' season. This time, Bellore left the field under his own power and with both legs attached. Progress.)
CBSSports.com's Clark Judge wrote Sunday evening that "Sanchez bought himself considerable time" with Sunday's performance and those five words illustrate perfectly the exceeding low expectations for the fourth-year quarterback. It's also a commentary on how Tebow is in no way prepared to handle the full-time duties.
But this isn't news, and it's why the Jets will continue to give Sanchez most of the reps and occasionally mix in a little Tebow for … well, we don't know why. He has been an adequate special teams player, but his vaunted red-zone skills have yet to show themselves -- partly because the Jets haven't used him much in those situations but also because when Tebow has had the opportunity he hasn't done anything with it.
Whatever, a win's a win and as Bill Parcells famously said, "You are what your record says you are." And New York's 3-3 -- along with every other team in the division -- and travel to New England Sunday for what suddenly becomes a very interesting AFC East get-together. It was enough to make a suddenly giddy Ryan proclaim "Here we come" when asked about this week's matchup before adding “I don't feel like tugging on Superman's cape today. But maybe tomorrow.”
|This is pretty much how Sanchez's day went: take snap, turn around, extend arm, hand ball to Shonn Greene, repeat. (AP)|
There wasn't much to critique and that's probably how Ryan would prefer it. But if you're looking for a good laugh, there's this from ESPN's QB ratings metric, QBR: for a day, at least, Sanchez and his 82 yards passing was better than Tom Brady's 395-yard (on 36-of-58 passing), 2 TDs, 2 INTs effort in a loss to the Seahawks.
Of course, this is the same statistic that last season had Tebow outperforming Aaron Rodgers. Interestingly, Tebow and Sanchez had similar numbers, as did Brady and Rodgers.
Tebow's final line (Oct. 2011 game) -- passing: 4 for 10 for 79 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT; rushing: 6 for 38, 1 TD.
Rodgers' (Oct. 2011 game) final line -- passing: 26 for 39 for 396 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT; rushing: 1 for -1, 0 TD.
As we noted at the time: yeah, this makes a ton of sense.
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.
Tebow continues to putter along, getting a handful of plays each week but nothing approaching the levels of Tebowmania we were subjected to a season ago. By our count, he touched the ball six times against the Colts, running the ball four times for seven yards, handing the ball to Greene on a read-option play that led to a 19-yard gain, and finding Bellore on the fake-punt-turned-23-yard-pass-play.
Here are, ahem, the "highlights" of said fake punt.
|The Jets line up in punt formation with Tebow as the upback and Bellore on the right side of the line. (CBS)|
|Tebow takes the direct snap -- and at this point in the season this can't surprise anyone (and yet the Colts seem surprised) -- rolls left, sees Bellfore WIDE OPEN, and ... (CBS)|
|… throws what looks like a punt. Fitting. It's a perfect pass to a perfectly wide open receiver (there isn't a player within 10 yards of Bellafore), and he rumbles for 23 yards before he's finally taken down. It's so easy even Tebow can do it! (CBS)|
|All this makes Rex Ryan very happy. (CBS)|
“That's what I planned going into the game -- being one of the leading receivers on the team,” Bellore joked via ESPNNewYork.com. “It was a great throw by Tim and we executed it well and luckily it worked. Those are always high-risk, high-reward plays.”
The Jets are now 3-for-3 on fake punts this year. This gives us an idea: maybe they should play every down like it's fourth down, line up in punt formation, snap it to Tebow and see what happens. (We wouldn't be surprised to learn that this has already been discussed as an actual offensive philosophy.)
Eye on Sanchbow