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I know you heard it too yesterday. It was barely audible, but ever so faintly it came from the shadows. ‘Put in Tim Tebow‘ they mumbled. Sure, their mouths were sealed after Mark Sanchez‘ great Week 1 performance, but as the running game struggled against a stout Pittsburgh Steelers defense, it was time to test the waters. Then, late in the third quarter, it happened. The Florida product was finally in the game and he ran it up the gut for a 22 yard gain. But as soon as it started, it was over. That was his lone carry of the day, relegated to special teams for the remainder of the contest. Yet with just that one run, he only fell one yard short of the total posted by starting running back Shonn Greene. The difference being Greene needed eleven carries to get his yardage. It’s about right now that you start yelling at your screen and call me a (insert insult). Just hear me out a second.
No, I don’t have a crystal ball, but Bilal Powell led all rushers with 33 yards on nine carries. Is it unreasonable to think that Tebow couldn’t have performed better had he been given another eight carries? He would have only needed to average less than 1.5 yards per carry to match Powell. Given his production on just one attempt, why not roll the dice? You’re screaming at me again! Yeah, I know, why would any sane person leave him in the game when Sanchez was doing a fairly decent job? Well, Rex Ryan did leave Sanchez in the game, and the result was two straight Sanchez incomplete passes. The ensuing drive started off with a 13 yard pass by Sanchez, followed by a five yard run and then two more incompletions. It should’ve been right then that Rex made the decision to get Tebow back in the game. Santonio Holmes was getting frustrated, and the running game had gone stagnant. Why abandon the guy who produced your single biggest rushing gain of the day?
It was deja-vu on their first drive of the fourth quarter, a three yard rush by Powell followed by…wait for it…two incompletions. I’m no savant, but even I see a pattern emerging. Still, Rex stuck to his guns and only fueled the Tebow fire. One which had nearly been extinguished last week. Let’s face it, the Steelers defense is among the best units you can find, and it’s no surprise the going was tough for the Jets offense. Not only was there a negative pattern developing, Rex must have forgotten Tebow was the same player who pulled a playoff upset against this very defense giving you fits. All it would have taken was one more snap for the enigmatic quarterback…errr…football player, and if he gets stuffed, there’s no more controversy hype to deal with. Had he done well, at minimum the momentum could have shifted and resulted in a win. Instead, Sanchez is back on the thin ice of public perception and Tebow supporters are fueled by what could have been. He still should only be considered fantasy waiver wire fodder, but a few more Sanchez performances like this and you’ll be wishing you stashed him on your bench. Remember when I said things could change in a New York minute last week?
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