bill-swift - August 31, 2012
The New York Post recently took a jab at the offense of the New York Jets with a little story that described a football field--more specifically the end zone--as a crime scene. Apparently there was some concern over a strange white substance (coke? anthrax?), the goal line. Since the Jets were likely not going to see it again there was nothing to be concerned about.
Jokes like this one are not uncommon in the NFL; there is always at least one or two teams in the league that are seriously impaired when it comes to their offense. If the preseason is any indication the Jets definitely qualify as scoring deficient. The solution to what ails the Jets offense is really quite simple--Tim Tebow.
Go ahead. Scoff. Laugh. Call me all sorts of mean little names while you question my intelligence and logic while you wonder if I'm drinking while typing this (I'm not). Once you're done with that just hear me out.
Mark Sanchez is not going to get the job done. His one season as a starter at USC was good, but not great. Single seasons like that can be attributed just as much to the system and the players surrounding a quarterback and not the QB. In fact, the success the Trojans had in 2008 was due as much if not more to the running game (three backs over 600 yards; 2,533 total yards) and a dominant defense (No. 2 unit in the nation).
He can't be that bad if he was able to lead the team to the AFC Championship two years in a row!
Did he actually lead the team there? or was it once again a powerful running game and defense that did the trick? In 2010 the Jets had the No. 4 running game in the league and the No 3 defense. The year before they were the best in both categories; the passing game--not so much (31st in '09 and 22nd in '10).
Okay, so Mark Sanchez is not the man; what makes Tim Tebow the guy for the job?
Tebow has been ripped to shreds for his unorthodox throwing style, and justly so--it looks kind of awkward and takes too long to get the ball out. The mistake in using Tebow is expecting him to be a passing quarterback.
In college Tebow was an effective passer; he actually set the SEC career record for passing efficiency and completion percentage by time he graduated. What made that possible (besides a solid offensive line) was a quality running game (11th in the nation in '08 and 10th in '09).
When a defense has to game plan to stop a running game and passing game like they did against the Tebow-led Gators, it is impossible to stack the defense against either. Load up the box against the run and they'd pass; try to blanket the receivers and they'd run.
That's the college game! The NFL is a different beast!
That is true, but the NFL is a pass friendly game today because the rules definitely encourage it. Passing leads to big plays, quick drives, and high scores. It's exciting; methodical running games not so much. Once upon a time that was how the game was played in the NFL.
Up until 1988, teams ran the ball nearly as much or more than they passed. During the '88 season teams in the NFL averaged 30.3 running plays to 31.5 passing plays. Only two teams passed for 4,000+ yards (10 did in '11 including two 5,000+ teams) while there were 15 that rushed for over 2,000 yards (nine did in '11).
Running the ball used to be the path to success in the NFL. It was not unusual for a team to have a pair of quality backs or for the quarterback to be used for that purpose as well (i.e. Greg Landry, Fran Tarkenton, John Elway, etc.).
Tim Tebow, Shonn Greene, and Joe McKnight together could turn the Jets into the most feared rushing team that the NFL has seen in years behind the offensive line that the Jets have. That will in turn loosen up the pass coverage since teams will have to key on the run, and maybe--just maybe--that will give Tebow the time to make better throws (even with his passing motion).
Tim Tebow has done it before; the Broncos had the No. 1 rushing game due to the efforts by Willis McGahee, Lance Ball, and Tebow in 2011. Had the defense been better than No. 20 in the league, Elway might not have been as quick to get rid of him.
It could work or it might not, but there is one thing that can be said for certain. The current offense is not getting the job done for the Jets, and it is time for change.