Five Thoughts on the Jets, Tim Tebow, Sean Payton and the Saints
|03.21.12 at 2:15 pm ET|
Five thoughts on an absolutely crazy afternoon in the NFL:
1. From a football perspective, the Jets’ decision to acquire Tim Tebow makes very little sense. (In truth, it’s one borne out of a desperate front office, hoping to retake the back pages of the New York tabloids after seeing the crosstown Giants win two Super Bowls in five years.) The Jets recently gave starting quarterback Mark Sanchez a three-year extension after losing out on Peyton Manning, a move designed to provide Sanchez with some sort of comfort — a confidence booster designed to tell the world that come hell or high water, No. 6 was their man. And they follow it up by creating an absolutely no-win situation for him — the first time Sanchez stumbles, the cries for Tebow will start. The Jets have guaranteed themselves a quarterback controversy even before training camp starts.
2. So you have Tim Tebow — what exactly do you do with him? New Jets offensive coordinator Tony Sparano was the man who helped bring the Wildcat to South Florida when he was head coach of the Dolphins, and you have to figure that’s what he has in store with the acquisition of Tebow. It’s also not like the Jets and Rex Ryan aren’t familiar with the Wildcat package, as they used it extensively in 2010 with Brad Smith. According to Pro Football Focus, Smith was the best Wildcat quarterback in the NFL that year, as Smith ran the ball from the wildcat 30 times for 212 yards and a touchdown, an average of 7.1 yards per run. (Half the time he handed the ball off, and the Jets other rushers had 4.0 yards per carry and a touchdown.) Per PFF, in Week 17 of the 2010 season against the Bills, when the Jets had their playoff spot secured, they used him at QB 13 times, and in those plays he managed runs of 20 and 40 yards.
3. What does this mean for the Patriots? Wildcat package or not, with the exception of one quarter — the first quarter of the regular-season game where Tebow and the Broncos ran up 224 yards and 16 points the first three times they had the ball — the Patriots have done a very good job of defending Tebow over the course of his relatively brief professional career. In two games against New England (one regular-season start and one playoff start, both last year), Tebow is 20-for-48 for 338 yards, with no touchdowns and no interceptions. In addition, he has 17 carries for 106 yards and two touchdowns. As for big picture analysis on what this might mean for the Jets’ offense as a whole, while they will still throw the ball with regularity, expect New York to use more gadget plays on the ground, and that includes the Wildcat. (One think to remember — the Patriots were occasionally vulnerable to gadget plays last season, as both the Broncos and Redskins used them against New England, with varied levels of success.)
4. As for the Saints, the wrath of Roger Goodell was not totally unexpected, especially with all the talk of player safety over the last year-plus. I don’t care how solid a franchise you have, there’s a thin line between success and mediocrity in this league, and the removal of one of the most key parts of a franchise even for a brief period of time can create chaos. Expect New Orleans to take a step back in its overall development as a football team. While there’s still a solid support system in place with some of the best talent in the league on both sides of the ball, the loss of a head coach for a season, an assistant head coach for six games and a GM for half a season will likely leave the franchise in a holding pattern for the 2012 season. And that doesn’t even take into account the additional penalties of cash and lost draft picks. (It will be interesting to see how much, if at all, this tarnishes the feel-good legacy of the 2009 Saints.)
5. When it comes to Gregg Williams, to quote Bob Dylan, you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. The culture that was created by Williams (and fostered by other players) is one that will be nipped in the bud going forward. The fact that he has been suspended indefinitely sends about a strong a message as possible that this sort of behavior will not be tolerated throughout the league, and should be a cautionary tale for other assistants going forward that the bounty culture, one that has been in place in many dark corner of the NFL for several years’ prior to Williams arrival in New Orleans (or even Buffalo, depending on who you believe) will finally be done with, once and for all.