We're not proud of it, but we wrote more than 10,000 words on the Mark Sanchez-Tim Tebow situation last season. Yes, we were part of the media machine that somehow made this a story. But, mercifully, our long, national nightmare is over: The Jets released Tebow on Monday. To commemorate one of the most forgettable seasons in NFL history (and to pay homage one last time to Tebowmania) we culled the Sanchbow archives ... so you don't have to.
Below is a week-by-week account of Tebow's role in the Jets' offense. Click on the links ("Week 1," "Week 2," etc...) for a more detailed breakdown of the horrors as they unfolded in real time.
Now, to the EoF time machine:
Week 1: Chronicling the Jets' QBs
Tebow's totals against Buffalo were underwhelming -- five carries for 11 yards and no pass attempts -- and the wildcat wasn't nearly the secret weapon that Ryan had alluded to in recent weeks. We're guessing that changes.
Week 2: It was a punt-astic afternoon
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 that 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."
Week 4: Is it Tebow Time yet?
Here's all you need to know about the Tebow experiment: His first pass of the season, while a completion, also led to tight end Dedrick Epps getting absolutely destroyed. Epps, for his troubles, has subsequently been waived and placed on injured reserve.
On Sunday, NFL Network's Michael Irvin put Tebow's only pass of the 2012 season in perspective. "Any ball hanging in the air is hanging death."
On the upside, Tebow has really stepped up his game as a blocking back.
Week 5: Table the Tebow talk
Coming into the Texans game, Tebow had been on the field for 12 percent of the Jets' offensive snaps: 18 at quarterback, seven at running back and six at wide receiver or tight end. There was speculation that this could be Tebow's grand unveiling since the Jets (even at 2-2) had nothing to lose.
By the time it was over, Tebow was in on seven snaps, and the first might have been the most exciting. Midway through the first quarter, he threw a beautiful deep pass that must've surprised wide receiver Jason Hill because he didn't appear interested in catching the ball. The rest of Tebow's night was an assortment of rushing plays that harkened back to those halcyon times in Denver sans the success. He ran five times for 19 yards, including one 13-yarder that led to the inevitable Tebow double-fist-pumps.
Week 6: When throwing for 82 yards is considered progress
Tebow continues to putter along, getting a handful of plays each week but nothing approaching the levels of Tebowmania that 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 Shonn Greene on a read-option play that led to a 19-yard gain, and finding Nick Bellore on the fake-punt-turned-23-yard-pass-play.
"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.)
Week 7: The Jets might have themselves a signal caller
Another week, another week of Tebow on the sidelines not doing much. With the Jets thin in the backfield heading into Foxborough, Rex Ryan suggested last week that we might see Tebow play some running back. Turns out, it was just that: a suggestion. Or maybe we all just made it up.
"I think it's more of something y'all just ran with," Tebow said after the game.
Either way, Tebow was on the field for four uneventful snaps, all rushing plays that gained a grand total of 12 yards.
So, yeah. Nothing to see here. Again.
Week 8: Recommence Tebow Watch
For all the talk of finding better ways to utilize Tebow, the Jets don't seem very interested in, you know, utilizing Tebow. Against the Dolphins, he touched the ball on one offensive snap, a two-yard gain.
He was also the punt protector. And, depending on whom you ask, responsible for a missed assignment that led to a blocked punt and seven Dolphins points.
As for the prospects of an expanding role, Tebow trotted out the same talking points that we've heard all season: "I'm a good competitor, and I love playing the game," he said. "I'm ready and willing whenever they call my number."
Week 10: There's no fixing this mess
So the new wrinkle the Jets spent a week working on: have Tebow throw bubble screens. He did it three times on Sunday for a whopping eight yards. He also rushed four times for 14 yards.
Week 11: The game manager returns
A year ago, Tebow was the NFL's biggest story. On Sunday, he was just another backup hoping to get on the field. On the third play of the game, he gained one yard on a designed running play. In the second quarter, Tebow completed a pass that lost a yard on fourth-and-5. And in the fourth quarter, he got his last touch, a run that lost six yards.
Three plays, -5 yards.
This game serves as a microcosm of Tebow's time in New York.
Week 12: Cue the clown cars
This is the infamous Buttfumble game. Luckily for Tebow, he didn't sniff the field.
With all that was going on, you might not have noticed Tebow's absence on the punt-coverage team. Turns out he had two fractured ribs and spent the evening on the sideline -- which, honestly, wasn't that much different than the previous 10 games.
Week 13: The end is near for Sanchez
Ryan, after weeks of repeating that Sanchez gave the Jets the best chance to win, finally benched Sanchez after another typical Sanchez-tastic performance. But here's the plot twist: Tebow was inactive because of a rib injury, which meant that former seventh-round pick Greg McElroy was summoned from clipboard duty to save the Jets from themselves.
Week 14: The game manager returns
At this point, Tebow is more urban myth than football player. He dressed against the Jaguars but didn't see the field, which isn't much different than the previous 13 weeks of the season. On Tuesday, Ryan admitted that Tebow might not be super-jazzed about coming to New York.
"That's probably a true statement," Ryan told Michael Kay during a radio appearance (via ESPNNewYork.com). "As a competitor, you want to have success. You want to have, probably, more opportunities and things like that."
But while Tebow is disappointed with how the season has played out, Ryan thinks "he's happy to be a Jet." Uh, huh.
"I truly believe that," Ryan continued. "But in my heart of hearts, I think we all thought there might be more success for him, even personally, running the wildcat, doing different things than he's enjoyed so far. But there's still three games left in the regular season and we'll see what happens in those games."
Week 15: This is how it ends
Well, Tebow played an entire series for the first time all season and had mixed success -- he ran for a first down, but he also still can't throw a forward pass. We wrote about this Monday night and highlighted some observations on it all from MNF's Jon Gruden.
"I have no idea what [the Jets are] doing with this sequence of plays. Obviously, the Titans are automaticing to a blitz every time Tebow is in the game. The Jets don't have an answer for it. … This is not what Tim Tebow is comfortable doing. I'm shocked that they left Tebow in the football game. … [The third-and-16 play] was a run-for-your-life play … this play was doomed from the beginning. Hard to explain what they wanted to get done with that series."
Upside: Tebow's "passer" rating was better than Sanchez's. So there's that.
Week 16: Clipboard duty, y'all
Sanchbow was supposed to be about Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow, Jets quarterbacks. And while both are technically quarterbacks on the Jets, neither played in Sunday's loss to the Chargers. So, for the first time all season, there's no unintentional comedy to report, no Rex Ryan circus antics to document, no "they're setting the passing game back decades" observations to make.
Former seventh-rounder McElroy got the nod over two former first-rounders and was … adequate. Which is a huge step up from what Sanchez had been offering in recent weeks.
Week 17: Mercifully, it's over
It's over. Finally, mercifully, the 2012 season is over and, with it, any mentions next week of Sanchez, Tebow, Tony Sparano or Ryan blindly offering support for any of them. There's not even a silver lining in Sanchez getting the Week 17 start 10 days after he was benched for third-teamer and former seventh-rounder Greg McElroy. …
Credit Sanchez for keeping a positive attitude through some of the most dysfunctional football that you ever hope to see. Some of that dysfunction is a result of someone in the organization thinking that trading for Tebow in March was a good idea.
But as the season progressed and all the talk of Tebow's impact turned into the reality of him standing on the sideline, it became clear that maybe Ryan wasn't completely on board with bringing Tebow and his talents to New York. And while the coach was mostly supportive in public, the fact that Tebow was passed over for McElroy after Sanchez was benched spoke volumes. Put another way: Ryan might not have been able to keep the higher-ups from acquiring Tebow, but that didn't mean he was going to play him.
For hopefully the last time ever, Ryan was asked after the Jets' Week 17 loss to the Bills why Tebow spent the afternoon staring wistfully at the field from the vantage point of the bench.
"It was my decision to stay with Sanchez [once McElroy was out with a concussion]," Ryan said. "I was the only one who made that decision. It's on me and, obviously, it didn't work out the way I wanted it to. … If I thought Tebow would have helped us win the game playing quarterback or defensive tackle, I would have played him."
Clearly, such a thought never crossed Ryan's mind.
So what's next for Tebow?
"I think I'll have to take a few days to really soak in and think about everything that happened," he said Sunday when asked if he could remain in New York though he wants to be a starter. "I think you have to take a few days to take it all in and look at the season. Obviously, there were ups and downs."