From Truth Monday to Competition Tuesday

Brian Bassett , TheJetsBlog.com

Jets fans are rightly morose. Why?  There doesn’t look to be a viable way to extricate Mark Sanchez or Tim Tebow from the unsolvable situation that the Jets offense faces — especially when you consider that the team’s coach has stood by his quarterback the whole way.

Even in the face of this total ignominy.

During Mark Sanchez’s days at USC, each practice day was given a title.  Mondays were known as “Truth Day.”

Well consider this my chance to candidly talk about what I’ve seen about the Jets quarterbacks on this Truth Day.

Mark Sanchez — We’ve seen his body of work and it’s … lacking.  He seems wholly incapable of hitting the the bottom benchmarks for good quarterback play: 60% completions and two to one TDs to INT ratio.  As it stands, Sanchez’s career completion percentage is stagnant at 55% and he’s thrown only 67 TDs to 61 INTs.  Everyone remembers his dreadful TD:INT ratio in year one, but the big jump in year two have remained stable since then at a little better than 1:1.  It’s proof he’s not getting better.  As the talent of his teammates around him have gotten worse, it looks as if he has not advanced enough to cover the lack of talent.  Granted, Sanchez does have seizures of competence, but they are impossible to plan around.  No one seems to know when they will come, or how they go away.

Tim Tebow — Tebow has broken ribs, an injury which has a recover time of 6-10 weeks.  The Jets have exactly six err FIVE games  left to this season – around the minimum recovery time from this injury retroactively considering when it happened and was then diagnosed.  Ryan indicated that he would play Tebow only in the most direst of situations, so it would stand to reason that he is trying not to risk long-term damage to the quarterback … so then why activate him anyway?  For the same reason that Ryan thinks Sanchez gives them the best chance at winning, so too does Ryan think that Tebow gives them the best chance at winning between him and McElroy.  Ribs break with any undue compression of the chest cavity and it’s hard to imagine that someone playing quarterback the way that Tebow does wouldn’t sustain at least 3-5 chest compressions a game should he be the full time starter.  If the Jets were to move to him for more than a game, the pain he could be playing with on a weekly basis could be excruciating.  Beyond the ribs, Tebow is not, in any classical definition, a good quarterback.  People talk about his winning spirit, but let’s not delude ourselves into thinking that the Broncos defense last year and his defense at Florida didn’t have  a lot to do with Tebow’s ability to win games.  I don’t know if without Darrelle Revis, the Jets defense could replicate what those teams did – which was essentially allow Tebow’s team to hang around all game until he got his butt in gear in the fourth quarter once defenses started cheating their safeties down into the box more regularly.  That said, I do think that someone like Stephen Hill would benefit greatly from a player like Tim Tebow in the lineup.  There would be a lot more broken plays which would let Hill get behind the defense and while Tebow’s accuracy is abysmal, his arm is not in question.  Of course Hill has to be able to catch the ball.

Greg McElroy — McElroy has a great pedigree and had more and better collegiate playing experience than Mark Sanchez did just by virtue of starting for two years in the SEC.  That said, McElroy also had the benefit of one of the most electric talents at the WR position in the last five years in Julio Jones during his time at Alabama and that has to be taken into consideration.  This isn’t a Jay Cutler Vanderbilt situation where there was not enough talent around him, Alabama was replete with talent and McElroy was very smart and capable in his time with the Crimson Tide.  The big thing about McElroy is that he was excellent in not turning over the ball.  He might not have been a world-beater, but he did enough to not muck it up for the rest of the team … something that seems to be impossible to say about the Jets current starter.  In many ways, McElroy has a lot of the same attributes that are commonly assigned to Sanchez.  He’s a good leader, he’s smart, he is accurate enough and has an average arm.  McElroy stared down Jones a lot in college and didn’t throw his talent open enough like the best quarterbacks in the league can do.  But then again neither does Sanchez.  I’ve not seen enough of him to make definitive statements, but he seems to me like as a starting NFL quarterback he would be lower rated version of Mark Sanchez with the big upside being that he might be able to protect the football better.  Of course we’ll never know that unless he sees time on the field.  On a macro level, McElroy is the latest iteration of Tannenbaum’s crackpot deep draft quarterback mining.  Tannenbaum seems to relish the idea of coaching up a backup to potentially trade them later on just like the Patriots, Green Bay, Philly and Atlanta have been able to do in recent years.  In fact, Tannenbaum often parrots the aphorisms of Ron Wolf (GM of Atlanta, Green Bay) on the subject when asked why the Jets drafted a player like Kellen Clemens, Erik Ainge and now McElroy saying that good teams draft a quarterback every year.  By my logic, good teams draft good quarterbacks, not just draft quarterbacks every year.  The problem of course is that all those programs mentioned have had masterful talent evaluators with the proper coaching staff to support them when it comes to deep-drafting at the quarterback spot.  As best I can tell, the Jets do not have that same ability.  Of course of those teams’ trades (ie Cassel, Flynn, Kolb, Schaub, etc.), so far only Matt Schaub has actually been able to live up to his pre-trade billing – so the long-term viability of the concept is flawed.

So what to do about it?  We know my version of the “Truth”  but what was the next step at USC?

When Mark Sanchez was a rookie with the Jets, he would talk glowingly about USC’s Competition Tuesday.  Well, I think it’s time that someone on the Jets instill something of the same kind.

Wikipedia defines what Competition Tuesday was under Pete Carroll.

Competition Tuesday is a term used by the University of Southern California Trojans football team in reference to all practices held on a Tuesday. On these particular practices, head coach Pete Carroll and his assistant coaches support an intense, combative yet collaborative environment where a fierce competition among teammates—fighting for a starting position, team pride between the offense and defense—are central to every drill. In the typical practice week, Competition Tuesday falls between Truth Day (Monday) and Turnover Wednesday.

(Learn more about it here, and here.)

We’ve heard over and over again about how great the team’s practices have been in a week leading up to a total trainwreck on Sunday.  So if the practices are great and the results are not great when it matters most, why keep doing the same thing?  Everyone else knows it’s time to change it up, why not the Jets?

I know, I know. This is totally unconventional.  This is completely out of touch with common practices in the NFL.  This could cause a riot among the Jets players.  I get all that.  I also get that the simple answer could be that Mike Tannenbaum has utterly failed at providing any talent in depth for this team to support it based on some onerous contracts and boiling down his draft picks into more concentrated drafts for years.

Another flaw, reps are severely limited in the NFL by CBA rules.  Even so, nothing else seems to be getting through to make the team put it together on Sunday.  So how much worse could it be for the Jets if they used some of their limited weekly practice reps to this purpose?  Other than just saying that Rex “believes” Sanchez to be the best chance for the Jets at winning, then let Sanchez prove Ryan right every week on the practice field.

To that end, let everyone else compete for their jobs too.  Rex keeps saying that it’s not just about Mark Sanchez, well fine, then open up every spot on the team and let players earn their roles.  That was what training camp was supposed to be about, but standing at 4-7 there’s nothing to lose.  Ryan benched Kerry Rhodes a few years ago in the middle of a potential playoff run in favor of Eric Smith – it’s not like he’s never crossed a star player in New York before.  He’s just never done it en masse.

It’s time for Rex to do it again, before he loses this team for good.




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