Remember when the Jets made back-to-back AFC championship games? Seems like a long time ago, doesn’t it? It wasn’t, really – that Steelers loss was less than two years ago – but with the Jets at 3-6 (outscored 58-16 over their last two games) and hurtling towards their second straight playoffs-less season, those playoff runs might as well have happened before we were born. And the latest sign of a Jets implosion: players anonymously ripping other players! This, of course, is a tried-and-true Jets formula, but the target of the ripping is new: Tim Tebow. And the New York Daily News announced this development with trademark New York tabloid restraint:
What did players say, exactly? Well, the Daily News‘ Manish Mehta must have been salivating as they gave him sound bites like:
“He’s terrible,” a defensive starter told the Daily News.
But could the Jets win with Tebow as the No. 1 quarterback?
“Do I have to answer that question?” a veteran starter said, shaking his head.
To most of the people in the organization, Tebow is nothing more than a specialty player who doesn’t have the requisite skills to be a true quarterback in the league. “We don’t look at him as a quarterback,” another starter said. “He’s the Wildcat guy.”
But most members of the Jets don’t believe that what they saw from Tebow last season is sustainable. “We can’t win running that sh–,” one player said.
They think Tebow’s heroics in Denver were a mirage.
“Now we’re depending on miracles?” a member of the organization said. “You can’t play that way.”
Well, uh, duly noted, guys, whoever you may be. Hey, maybe they were asked leading questions. Maybe Mehta was setting out trying to get some inflammatory Tebow stuff. The Jets still gave it to him – and they (mostly) did it without putting their names to it. One player did: offensive lineman Matt Slauson. He said:
“It’s not even close,” Slauson said. “All the other quarterbacks know it. I have all the confidence in Mark. We don’t really have a choice.”
When asked about the team’s two other quarterbacks on the depth chart as possible alternatives — Tebow and Greg McElroy — Slauson clarified that the Jets really have only one other quarterback.
“We have Greg . . . and we have an athlete,” Slauson said.
Yeah, locker room chemistry tends to be overrated. Yeah, the Jets have several winnable games remaining on the schedule, and if they go on a nice run from here, at most this Tebow-bashing episode will be a blip. And it’s true that, well, what the anonymous (plus Slauson) players were saying wasn’t wrong. Tebow isn’t good as an every-down quarterback.If he were, the Broncos wouldn’t have gone all-out for Peyton Manning and traded him.
But the anonymous Tebow ripping, just like the Sanchez ripping before it, gives the Jets the appearance of a team in disarray – especially when combined with a subpar record. It makes Rex Ryan, who flat-out admitted losing control of last year’s team, look like he still doesn’t have a handle on his players. It was a delicate quarterback situation to begin with, and it just got even worse. The Jets still sound like a team that doesn’t quite know what it’s doing, and that’s why even though they theoretically could go on a run before the season ends, if we had to, we’d bet heavily against it.
Daily News cover photo via Newseum, Tebow photo via Getty, by Alex Trautwig