How About Those Jets QBs, huh?

Tim Tebow

by Jason Gay August 21, 2012, 9:09 p.m. ET

The Jets and the Giants played a shrill but meaningless preseason football game in the Meadowlands on Saturday night. The Giants beat the Jets, 26-3, an outcome that should not be surprising to careful or even casual followers of the Giants, Jets or football.

But the lukewarm drama inside the lukewarm drama was about the comparative performances of two Jets quarterbacks: Mark Sanchez, who has led the Jets to two AFC championship games in his first three seasons, and Tim Tebow, who is the greatest football player who ever lived. Since late March, teams of sports psychologists in white lab coats have been working around the clock to determine why the Jets brought the league's biggest attention magnet to a franchise already staggering under the self-inflicted weight of media pressure. Nobody seems to have a clear answer.

Now the murky water is even muddier, after both Tebow and Sanchez played poorly in the Saturday loss to the Giants.

Here is Sanchez's line:

9 of 11 passing (82%), 59 yards,
0 TD, 1 INT, 4.4 yards/attempt,
3 sacks, 51.1 QB rating

Associated Press

New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez

At first glance it's not a disaster. Nine of 11 passing is very good. But those numbers hide some uninspired play; the Jets did not move the ball very well with Sanchez in the first half. When they finally did push the ball down field, Sanchez was intercepted by Giant Jayron Hosley, who ran it back 77 yards for a touchdown. Sanchez wasn't protected well, and got sacked three times. It was a rough thirty minutes of football.

Now here is Tebow's line:

5 of 14 passing (38%), 69 yards,
0 TD, 0 INT, 4.9 yards/attempt,
4 sacks, 52.4 QB rating

At first glance this is a disaster. Five out of 14 is terrible by any measure: If you were throwing rings over milk bottles at a state fair, 35% wouldn't even get you the small panda with sunglasses. But Tebow did lead the Jets on their only scoring drive of the evening, marching his team downfield in his first possession and nearly missing a touchdown pass when he badly under-threw receiver Stephen Hill. This became an unfortunate theme, as Tebow would repeatedly miss on his heaves. And he did not make up for his poor passing performance with excellent running. He ran twice for five yards.

Now it's hard to say that the Jets now have themselves a quarterback "controversy," as a "controversy" would suggest that at least one party is moving the ball effectively and shows great promise.

This is not the case. The Jets have not scored a touchdown during preseason play. Do you know how hard it is to not score a touchdown during the preseason?

Do they have other options? Let's take a look at some other performers from Saturday.

Jupiter Images/Getty Images

Is this cat better than Sanchez and Tebow? Too soon to tell, writes Jason Gay.

0 of 0 passing (0%), 0 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT, 0 yards/attempt, 0 sacks, 0.0 QB rating

I know what you're thinking: This cat you see here did not play Saturday night. And this is true. He was curled up in the closet in a basket of socks. He briefly ate some Fancy Feast and then it was back to bed. But it is important to point out he did not hurt the Jets at all. He did not score any touchdowns, but he did not record any interceptions, either. He wasn't sacked once. Is he better than Sanchez and Tebow? Too soon to tell. Let's take a look at another contender:

Consider how little the End Table hurt the Jets: no interceptions. No fumbles.

0 of 0 passing (0%), 0 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT, 0 yards/attempt, 1 sack,
0.0 QB rating

Like the cat, the End Table did not see action at the Meadowlands this weekend. All it did was just sit there at home. It held two beers, one bowl of popcorn and one copy of Cooking with Paula Deen magazine. But again: Consider how little the End Table hurt the Jets. Like the cat, no interceptions. No fumbles. It did get sacked once, apparently, but this might be a misprint. Will check now with the office interns.

Here's another contender.

0 of 0 passing (0%), 0 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT, 0 yards/attempt, 0 sacks, 0.0 QB rating

Getty Images

Joe Namath

If you follow the Jets, you know that Joe still pipes up now and again, which is his right, since he's the only man to ever guide the franchise to a Super Bowl, and looked great in a stylish coat. Joe hated the Tebow trade, saying it undermined Sanchez, but if you look at his statistics from Saturday night, you see that Joe still has a touch of the old Broadway greatness. No sacks, no interceptions, no incompletions. He did not play, but give it up for Joe: He's wily and evasive!

Now if you consider all these options, beyond just Sanchez and Tebow, you will see that the Jets do, in fact, have a bona fide quarterback controversy. At this point, they should put the depth chart this way: End Table, Namath, Sanchez, Cat, Tebow. But it's close. You easily could flip Namath and Sanchez, and Cat and Tebow. But everyone needs more time. Patience is important. Is it really just the third week of August? Oof. Will the regular season ever get here? Tebow! Sanchez! Sanchez! Tebow! It's enough to make you lose your mind.